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UPDATED: US TV shows on British TV 2013: JJ Abrams’ Believe heading to Watch

UK broadcasters have started to unveil their purchases from this year’s crop of new American TV drama and comedy, with a few surprises.

We’re already eating our hat at the Channel 4 picking-up of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Sky 1’s very limited shopping spree this year.

We’ll keep updating this story, so who’s got what?

Today’s news: UKTV snaps up JJ Abrams’ Believe for Watch.

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US TV shows on British TV: S.H.I.E.L.D., Sleepy Hollow, Mom and more
Mom stars Alison Janney and Anna Faris


ITV’s modern identity is centred on home-grown shows, so US shows are always chosen carefully, usually to complement ITV2’s focus on young women.

Mom: From the creator of The Big Bang Theory, Chuck Lorre, Mom stars Anna Faris as a newly-sober single mum who has to take care of both her daugher and her mother while making up for her mistakes.

Channel 4 (plus E4 and More4)

A shrewd purchaser of US TV rights, often taking second-run after a pay-TV channel, Channel 4 has stepped up to some big names this year.

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Avengers’ director Joss Wheedon produces this Marvel-inspired resurrection of Agent Phil Coulson and his team, who tackle superpowered threats with merely human strength and ingenuity.

Hostages: Filling in during Homeland’s absences, this is also inspired by an Israeli series, and stars Toni Collette as a surgeon who must operate on the president when kidnappers holding her family order her to kill America’s leader.

The Tomorrow People: An E4 cert, this is a remake of the 1970s British kids’ show about superpowered youngsters, with shaky sets and scripts swapped for glossy production values and glamourous 20-somethings playing teenagers.

The 100: Another E4 star full of shiny fake teens, this is a post-apocalyptic drama where 100 juvenile delinquents are sent to a devastated Earth to rebuild and repopulate the planet.

Channel 5 (plus 5* and 5USA)

Breaking Bad may have been a low point in Channel 5’s relationship with US drama, but it’s the home of Once Upon A Time, and is already showing Under The Dome.

Under The Dome: Adapted from Stephen King’s story, a small American town finds itself locked within a mysterious invisible wall, which becomes a pressure cooker for the inhabitant’s personal secrets and rivalries.

Betrayal: A powerful mob lawyer and a photographer begin an affair, but her husband is leading a prosecution against the lawyer for the murder of a high-profile Chicago family.


US TV shows on British TV: S.H.I.E.L.D., Sleepy Hollow, Mom and more
Sleepy Hollow brings American gothic back to the future

Sky (Sky 1, Sky Living, Sky Arts)

With a hefty roster of US shows such as Revolution, Arrow, Modern Family, Elementary and the unkillable Supernatural, Sky doesn’t have much room to gamble on new signings.

Doll & Em: Sky Living will host this ‘true-life’ comedy in the mould of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, following the Hollywood lives of actress Emily Mortimer and her best friend Dolly Wells.

The Blacklist: James Spader plays a fugitive who reveals a list of terrorists and criminals to the FBI, and helps track them down in return for his freedom.

UKTV (Drama, Alibi, Dave, Watch, GOLD, Eden, Yesterday, Home, Good Food, Really)

With successful comedies and dramas across its channels, from Suits to Criminal Minds: Suspect Behaviour, and Beauty And The Beast, UKTV has yet to reveal its purchases from this May’s LA screenings of network pilots – but we understand there will be quite a few.

Believe (Watch): Star Trek reimagineer JJ Abrams has crafted an ongoing mystery, mixed with weekly Littlest Hobo-style tales as Bo, a girl with psychic powers, flees Kyle MacLachlan’s evil businessman across America with her guardian, a former Death Row inmate.


The pay-TV channel is a surprise bidder, hoping first run drama will attract loyal, high-end viewers alongside NCIS, Major Crime and Royal Pains.

Sleepy Hollow: A time-travelling spin on the 1999 Tim Burton/Johnny Depp supernatural gothic detective show, with hero Ichabod Crane teaming up with a modern-day female sheriff.

Bates Motel: Produced by Lost’s Carlton Cuse, this Psycho-drama tells the story of how young Norman Bates became the stabby man behind the shower curtain.

Graceland: A group of FBI, DEA and Customs agents are assigned together, working from a glamourous beachside house, with relationships in team developing as they tackle their mission.

Comedy Central

It’s hard to believe there’s room for new shows on Comedy Central since they still don’t have The Colbert Report, but they’ve been shopping with parent company Viacom:

The Millers: Arrested Development’s Will Arnett stars as a newly-divorced man who’s looking forward to his single life, until his parents’ marital problems get in the way. Premieres October 14.

We Are Men: Three men (Jerry O’Connell, Tony Shalhoub, and Kal Penn) help their friend (Chris Smith) get over being jilted at the altar.


SyFy makes a lot of its own shows, but it’s not averse to buying interesting shows that fit the fantasy and sci-fi style of the channel.

The Originals: The channel has picked up the rights to show The Vampire Diaries spin-off. The show debuts in the US on The CW channel in October, and focuses on the Mikaelson siblings. 

What’s left?

US TV shows on British TV: S.H.I.E.L.D., Sleepy Hollow, Mom and more
Part human, part machine, all cops in JJ Abrams’s Almost Human

There are still a surprising number of new shows to snap up, suggesting Hollywood might have over-delivered after a fairly successful year for 2012’s new shows.

There are several crime shows with star names: Gillian Anderson in hostage drama Crisis, Mind Games with Christian Slater, and a remake of Ironside with Blair Underwood. Amazingly, no-one has admitted buying 24: Live Another Day – but Sky may have sewn that up already.

JJ Abrams, creator of Lost and Alias, and re-creator of Star Trek on the big screen, has two shows on the slate: Android-human buddy cop drama Almost Human, and psychic child show Believe (coming to Watch).

Reign is a teen drama based around the young Mary, Queen of Scots, while Intelligence stars Lost’s Josh Holloway as a spy with a chip in his head (Chuck, anyone?).

Stars are going spare on the comedy side too, with a full season of The Michael J Fox Show going begging, and Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar in The Crazy Ones.


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