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Lost in adaptation

interior-adaptbrent This report was broadcast on BBC World Service radio in March 2009.

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“We turn now to a report about the ‘special relationship’ between British and American television. An adaptation of the acclaimed BBC series Life On Mars was recently cancelled by its US network after just one season. The Hollywood version of State Of Play – another British hit – has done good box office business by condensing a tricky conspiracy thriller into a third of its original running time. Meanwhile, shows like Lost and Heroes are crossing the Atlantic in the opposite direction, faster than ever before.

So why do American networks still insist on adapting British concepts, while we just buy up their products wholesale, without changing a thing? And is the idea of national television audiences, with distinct likes and dislikes, an outdated concept in the digital age? Our New York correspondent Andrew Purcell has been investigating.”