Britain and the Entertainment Industry
Brits in Film
The Brits have been part of Hollywood since the beginning.
Charlie Chaplin was a key figure in the creation of the movie
industry. Boris Karloff (whose brother was a senior British
diplomat!) and Stan Laurel were among the many influential Hollywood
Brits of that era. Fifty years ago, Cary Grant (a Bristol man) was
the leading Leading Man, and Alec Guinness and David Niven won
Oscars®. Over the ensuing years, Britain has amassed an amazing tally
of around 320 Academy Awards.
The Brits have excelled not only in acting, but also in
directing, screenwriting, music, costume design, animation and
special effects. The Star Wars movies were made in Britain because
of the strength of special effects expertise there. Many American
filmmakers choose to make all or part of their movies in the UK,
even if the story is set elsewhere.
British film organizations in Los Angeles include BritWeek's partners
BAFTA/LA and the British Film Commission.
Brits on TV
British television formats have been popular in the US since the
sixties. Several successful TV shows in America have been based on
British originals. These include Sanford and Son, Three’s
Company, All in the Family and more recently The Office.
Today reality TV show formats from the UK reign supreme in America,
including Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Dancing With the Stars and American Idol.
Many landmark British shows have been exported to the United
States without being adapted for American audiences. These include
numerous British comedies, from the zany Monty Python’s Flying
Circus in the Seventies to Ricky Gervais’ original version of The
Office. British crime dramas like Prime Suspect, historical
epics, and costume dramas remain perennially popular. Most recently, the Golden Globe and Emmy Awards winning global phenomenon Downton Abbey has taken the US by storm.
Finally, innumerable Brits have been involved in purely American
TV shows, often in the lead roles, from Angela Lansbury in Murder
She Wrote and Jane Seymour in a variety of series, to Ian McShane
in Deadwood and Hugh Laurie in House today. Everywhere in the TV
industry, as in the movies, there are Brits behind the scenes, as
producers and production experts.