British Sensibilities

A line in Career of Evil, a Robert Galbraith (JK Rowlings) novel, got me thinking.

Career of Evil

It was mentioned that the questions she asked were way too personal to be coming from a complete stranger. Upon reading that I immediately thought, “How British.”

The level of personal space, in terms of what is acceptable from people that aren’t well known, is very different in the two countries. Americans talk to strangers, especially on trains and airplanes; we ask about what type of work a person does on first meeting someone; and we use first names. I thought I was going to cause an aneurism in one of my British friends when I described a situation in which I didn’t know a person well enough to know his last name.

While both Americans and Brits are not keen on reading subtitles for foreign television series, and thus there is a propensity to remake them, the ways in which that remaking is done is quite different. First off, the British are used to American programming and typically don’t redo a series simply because of the different accent and context. I’m surprised at how many British shows are redone here, and especially ones that are redone and kept mainly the same. Broadchurch, the British version, was wonderful.

Broadchurch - British Version

The American version simply showed that David Tennent is the only British actor that can’t pull off an American accent. Strangely enough, Americans went crazy over Downton Abbey, accents and all.

What really impressed me was the British remake of Wallander, a Swedish detective series.

Wallander (UK)

The British production of the show was redone in English with Kenneth Branagh as the lead, but it still takes place in Sweden. Best yet, all the writing that is shown in the show (book covers, writing on vehicles, etc) is in Swedish. How awesome is it that they wanted to preserve the integrity of the show that much?!?! I was so sad when I watched the last episode available on Netflix. Fortunately, there is another season out there that will hopefully become available soon.

What is your willingness to watch programming in an accent that varies from your own? Or For a remake, would you rather the setting be familiar or what the original work described?

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