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Which British Reality Shows Should the CW Re-Air?

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 24th 2010 5:30PM
raymond_blanc_last_restaurant_standing_bbcaSome of the best reality shows on American television are based on ideas from other countries. That's not big news; it's a fact. This, however, is news: The CW is thinking about broadcasting a couple of British reality shows this summer instead of new programming. As Deadline.com reports, the network is not looking to do their version of the UK shows. They're simply going to re-run the shows as they aired in England.

For a network that's struggling for ratings, like the CW has all year long, this is a wise idea. And if they're smart enough to pick the right Brit shows, they could turn a tidy profit -- which is the point for the bean counters after all. From our point of view, there are at least six excellent British imports CW could re-air without altering a thing. Here are our choices:

'Last Restaurant Standing.' If there's one type of reality show that American TV has completely bungled, it's the restaurant show. NBC tried twice and failed. First there was Rocco DiSpirito's 'The Restaurant,' then there was 'The Chopping Block' with Marco Pierre White. This British series has Raymond Blanc as a genius chef who is giving one couple the chance to partner with him in opening a restaurant. The competition presents nine pairs who have to open a restaurant, achieve certain goals and live up to Blanc's Michelin star standards. Having seen the program on BBC America, it's a winner. If the CW could get the rights, this would definitely appeal to American viewers.

'Gordon Ramsay's The F Word.' Could the CW snag a Gordon Ramsay show and steal Fox's thunder? I don't know for sure, but of all the Ramsay shows around the dial, this one is superb. It's a blend of Ramsay's cooking, a little bullying, some UK celebs and food education (like 'Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.') Since Ramsay already has a big following in America, CW would do well to grab this show if they can.

'Top Gear.'
Perhaps it's not strictly a reality show, but you can't find a better import from England than 'Top Gear.' The three presenters -- James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson -- are simply brilliant as they trade barbs and digs while racing, ogling and delving into cars of all sorts. They're like a comedy team, and while networks on this side of the Atlantic try to replicate what 'Top Gear' does so well in the UK, the CW should get the rights and show the original. There's no need to do anything to it; just broadcast it as is.

'Shipwrecked.' This reality game show has elements that remind you of 'The Real World' and 'Survivor,' but there are differences, too. The contestants are all young and good-looking -- running around in swim suits -- and there's a lot of strategy involved that's not unlike 'Big Brother' politicking. The latest edition was in 2009, and it would fit perfectly with the CW audience.

'Dragon's Den.'
You would recognize the set up of 'Dragon's Den' instantly because it's the same as ABC's 'Shark Tank.' It's simply the British version of a show that actually originated in Japan. What was so good about 'Dragon's Den' was the variety of inventions and ideas that the "dragons" were pitched. It wasn't overly hyped or dramatized, it was pretty down-to-earth. The fact that they're talking about pounds instead of dollars is the only significant difference for American viewers to absorb.

'The X Factor.' Why wouldn't the CW want a little Simon Cowell on their network? This talent competition show is coming to America in 2011 on Fox, but could the CW snag the rights to Cowell's British version? Maybe the 2006 season, for instance, which was won by Leona Lewis? The thing about 'The X Factor' is that great talent has no borders. CW viewers would be just as caught up in watching British aspiring performers as they would American wannabes.

So, what do you think the CW should grab -- one of these six or is there a choice you have in mind? Let us know.

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Top Gear already airs on BBC America, so it's unlikely CW would bother with it.

April 24 2010 at 11:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"The Business Inspector", "Country House Rescue", any of the "River Cottage" series with Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall, all of Rick Stein's programs but especially "French Odyssey" and "Mediterranean Escape", for late night viewing "Alan Carr, Chatty Man". For the record, I'm a Californian who has never lived in the UK; all of my Brit telly viewing is accomplished via USENET.

April 24 2010 at 8:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Top Gear is a great family show. These guys are hilarious, especially Jeremy Clarkston. I love seeing Europe from their prospective. And of course, the cars are always interesting.

April 24 2010 at 7:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
D Colin

I love Last Restaurant Standing. They changed it slightly this last season on BBCamerica,but it's one of my favorite reality shows. Though I'm not sure if this fits in with the CW at all.
I saw a season of Shipwrecked and I liked it, dodn't know why BBCamerica stopped showing it. I could totally see this on the CW.

Well, I'm excited to see what the pick up. Hope it's something good

I guess I don't know why BBCamerica never brought over DTWS from England, maybe it was legal issues too. But they tried airing a past season of the US version. Though I don't see th UK version winding up on The CW either.

hmmm- and with Dragon's Den, Top Gear and Gordon Ramsey's F Word (along with LRS) they all air on BBCA now anyways, so I don't know if CW would pick them up.

Heck, UK Apprentice was good, but CNBC scheduled it so weird I missed a bunch.

We won't get British Got Talent or their X Factor for legal reasons. I remember reading that NBC has exclusive right to the Got Talent in the US and Fox/American Idol had exclusive rights to Simon Cowell.

There's shows like Living On The Edge (like our Laguna Beach), UK Top Model, Project Catwalk (their Project Runway) would be interesting cause except for Top Model haven't seen these in the states (and then only once) but they'd also appeal to CW viewers I think. Or since it's CBS' little kid sister what about a UK Big Brother, that be fun - but they'd have to do a lot of editing I guess

April 24 2010 at 7:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It would be great if they showed season 1 of any of those shows. How about we get some Doctor Who on CW?

April 24 2010 at 7:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't know about any of the other shows or what network, but I met a guy at a dinner a month ago who had to get up early the next day to start shooting the American version of Top Gear. Everyone at the dinner worked in production - mostly reality so I believe he was honest.

April 24 2010 at 7:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's actually kind of puzzling that more UK reality shows don't get aired in the US, as a lot of the perceived "problems" with airing UK drama in the US is totally avoided. I mean, there's very little in the way of a cultural barrier to watch and enjoy The X Factor. Or Britain's Got Talent. In fact, considering the Susan Boyle phenom, I'm amazed a small US channel hasn't picked up BGT.

Here in the UK, quite a few minority channels air AGT, DWTS and American Idol, so I have no idea why it couldn't work vice-versa. The shows you mention would all be good purchases. I guess people in America just have to show execs that they CAN be entertained by shows that don't star Americans. Y'know, broaden your horizons...

April 24 2010 at 5:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dan's comment

Dan, not sure why but in Australia the channels here ignore almost all the British Reality shows (a very small number are on cable), but there's around 300-350 US reality shows that are shown here either on free-to-air or cable.

April 24 2010 at 8:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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