Why the British (Successfully) Invaded Television

A number of US shows feature a British lead playing an American character. Consider what happened when Damian Lewis won his best actor Emmy for Homeland, playing a former hostage in the Showtime drama. Twitter lit up in surprise as Lewis announced he was ‘one of those pesky Brits’. Why are they successful? Are they inexpensive as many of them joke, or does it say something about how both side of the Atlantic approach entertainment or fame?

  • Is it not possible that British actors are just good at their job? I am only half-joking, but I really don't feel like the Brits are given enough credit; they're always "stealing American parts". But on the flip side the quality of american shows is far superior to anything Britain has; you don't see many, if any, American actors in British shows or many quality British actors for that matter. The US has Fargo (Brit: Martin Freem), Hannibal (Brit: Hugh Dancy), Elementary (Jonny Lee Miller) and as you said Homeland/ Band of Brothers (Damien Lewis). Britain has shows that aren't even worth the time (Atlantis, Doctor Who (controversial I know)). So I don't think that Brits are stealing American jobs, rather they are enchanted by and drawn in by the wonderful American shows. – Jamie 9 years ago
  • I take much offence to the statement that the UK has bad shows. Maybe America just needs to show the good ones beyond the BBC? Atlantis is awful in many respects, but it should be remembered that it is for families unlike the american shows mentioned. Also, if you look beyond the BBC there are great shows. Downtown Abbey (i'm not a fan, but America is...) Misfits (series 1-3) Camelot with Eve Green (didn't get the recognition it deserved) The Tudors (where Superman and Margery Tyrell began...) For anyone who wants to write the article, it is worth bearing in mind that actor training in America and the UK is very different. UK has more emphasis on collaboration and (i think) physicality, multiple different practitioners from Europe, whilst America is very much The Method and Strasburg. – Francesca Turauskis 9 years ago
  • But the British have been "invading" for centuries, haven't they? – T. Palomino 2 years ago

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