Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Format Rights

Just heard the Americans have remade the very British "Skins". Got me wondering about a London based remake of "Mad Men".

What you'd call it, I don't know. The "Mad" of the title refers to Madison Avenue and, since the whole point is not to set it there, the most likely British model for an early 60's creative ad agency would seem to be Collett Dickson Pearce, whose offices were on the corner of Howland Street and Whitfield Street. Hmmn. Maybe I'll leave the name for later.

While we're on the subject of offices, I gather CDP's were a little less than opulent than Sterling Cooper (maybe even less than Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price). It's the usual problem with making glamourous TV set in the UK - everything's just that much smaller, and usually less impressive.

Not so the glittering British talent though, eh? What about the cast? Try this:

Jason Issacs (Lucius Malfoy) - Don Draper (Jon Hamm)
Malcolm McDowell* - Roger Sterling (John Slattery)
David Jason (no, really - think about it) - Bert Cooper (Robert Morse)
James Buckley (Inbetweeners) - Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser)
Sam Janus (Game On, Eastenders) - Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks)
Claire Foy (Little Dorrit, Upstairs Downstairs, Going Postal, The Promise) - Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss)

* I did think Keith Allen (Lily Allen's dad, kids) would be great, if you didn't mind losing the white hair, but there's something about McDowell that makes me wonder why he's never played an ad man before. That mix of charm and sleaze, perfect.

Well, that's how I would do it, if I were to follow the US pattern of re-casting like-for-like and just adjusting the cultural references. After all, why would you buy the format rights to a TV show (that would be Television Programme in the UK - note the double 'm' and the 'e' at the end) and then make something that wasn't in the same format?

Of course, you've always got the option of just setting it in the same universe (in Comic, sorry, Graphic Novel-speak) and having this British agency inhabit the same world as Lane's former colleagues. Characters from one show could pop-up (that's 'guest' in American) in the other. You might get some realistic British accents in "Mad Men" then.

And, in all fairness, some realistic American accents in… whatever the hell we were going to call it.

Answers on a postcard please.

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