Five French TV shows that should be remade in English

French TV shows like Lupin and Call My Agent have become global hits in recent years, showcasing French talent to the world, but there are other shows which could easily be remade for an English-speaking audience.

Five French TV shows that should be remade in English
Hosts of the show Quotidien on TMC in 2019. Photo: CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT / AFP.

It’s something the French do all the time – take an English-language hit and remake it for a domestic audience. Reality TV shows and competitions lend themselves best to this with versions of everything from The Great British Bake Off to Survivor finding great success with French viewers.

READ ALSO Five reasons the Bake Off is better in France than Britain

But French channels have also come up with some great ideas of their own. And it’s time English-language executives started taking note. Here are our ideas for shows that could use an English remake.


Quotidien, which, as its name suggests, airs every weeknight on TMC except for during the holidays, is a satirical news show which is hugely popular, particularly among a young audience.

While it clearly draws inspiration from American infotainment shows like The Daily Show, there is nothing quite like Quotidien. That’s because it gives air time to real journalists, who report from the field, in France and beyond, often travelling to the United States to cover big stories like election campaigns.

It does still make fun of politicians and cover lighter subjects, but its longer air time – each episode is around an hour and a half – allows the team to present their own stories, even if the balance between humour and information isn’t always easy to get right. Overall, introducing the formula to English-speaking countries would make a welcome change from the tried-and-tested formula.

Below is a clip of Quotidien’s take on French hath minister Olivier Véran’s demi-shirtless vaccine photoshoot.

21 cm

This is another show which has travelled to America in the past. In every episode of 21 cm on pay TV channel Canal+, literary critic Augustin Trapenard interviews a different author. It’s named after the average size of a published novel.

READ ALSO How French TV is going global thanks to streaming

The show has featured French authors like Virginie Despentes and Edouard Louis, and Americans including James Ellroy and Bret Easton Ellis. Each time, Trapenard takes the writer to different places which have played an important role in their life and work, before interviewing them in his Paris apartment and having them select a book from his personal bookshelves to take home. It’s like you as the viewer are there with them at a relaxed dinner party.

It’s a perfect illustration of how seriously culture is taken in France, and more countries could do with dedicating that kind of space to literature.

Here, Trapenard interviews Sylvain Tesson while trekking through the snow.

Chasseurs d’appart

The French may be famous for embracing nudity on film, but there is one type of porn most countries agree on: property porn.

While Netflix recently tried to emulate the drama-fueled success of Selling Sunset with the French show The Parisian Agency: Exclusive Properties, French channels have already come up with their own, original concepts which could easily be replicated.

Chasseurs d’appart (Apartment hunters) takes the idea behind shows like House Hunters and Location, Location, Location – ordinary people seeking help to find their dream home – and adds its own twist. In each episode, three different estate agents show the same person or couple one house each, and the buyers must choose their favourite. Each week showcases a different city, with the agents competing over the course of the week to find homes for five different buyers, with an episode airing every night.

They fact the agents only have one attempt each raises the stakes, and who doesn’t love a bit of competition?

Nus et culottés

This France 5 show is very low budget, or “charmingly rustic”, if you will, meaning it’d be incredibly easy to remake. The name means “Naked and daring”.

It follows two friends, Nans and Mouts, who begin each episode naked, with no money, and only a few discreet cameras to film their adventures themselves. Every episode they have a different objective, which involves travelling to a different part of France, or beyond, and achieving a goal, like drinking tea with a Lord in England.

Throughout, they rely on the kindness of strangers to give them food, a place to sleep, and a way to get to their end point. With no big camera crew following them, it’s easy to understand why people would be afraid, but watching the show will restore your faith in the fundamental goodness of people.

Their overseas episodes have already shown that it’s not just French people who are willing to give a helping hand to strangers in need, but maybe that’s down to the pair’s Gallic charm. There’s only one way to find out.

Here Nans and Mouts are trying to get someone to give them a ride without saying a word.

Call My Agent

Okay, we couldn’t resist. Most of the TV shows on this list are factual, because English-speaking audiences have shown in recent years that they are willing and even excited to discover fictional French series in the original language, meaning there is no need to remake shows that are already popular.

REVEALED: The French in-jokes from TV series Call My Agent

But Call My Agent (Dix pour cent for those who watched it in France) has enormous potential for spin-offs and remakes in other countries. In fact, a British remake is already in the works.

For anybody who has somehow managed to avoid the hype, the comedy-drama series, which is available on Netflix, follows a group of agents in a Paris talent agency who manage a wide variety of famous actors. The actors appear as themselves, and not always in the most flattering light.

Just imagine the possibilities of a similar show set in Hollywood (although it looks like the original series could beat them to it).

The BBC show Episodes has already shown that it’s possible to make good TV when global superstars – in that case Matt LeBlanc – are willing to appear foolish by playing satirised versions of themselves.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


How to make the most of France’s ‘night of museums’ this weekend

More than 3,000 French museums will stay open long past their bedtimes on Saturday May 14th for the 18th Long Night of Museums.

How to make the most of France's 'night of museums' this weekend

The annual event takes place on the third Saturday in May each year in towns and cities across the whole of Europe. There are temporary exhibitions, themed guided visits, musical entertainment, lectures, concerts, food tasting, historical reconstructions and re-enactments, and film projections. Best news of all, almost everything is free. 

Here’s The Local’s guide to getting the most out of the night:

Plan, plan, then throwaway the plan

Consult the online programme and map out your route. A little preparation will make the night much easier – 3,000 museums will be open long into the night in France, and you don’t want to waste hours standing on a bridge arguing about where to go next. 

The site has suggestions for major cities, including Lyon, Dijon, Bourges, Strasbourg, Lille, Rouen, Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Marseilles. And four museums that have been closed to the public for years – Musée de Cluny in Paris, the Musée de Valenciennes, the Forum antique de Bavay in Nord and the Musée départemental Albert-Khan in Boulogne-Billancourt – are reopening on the night.

So, decide where you’re going beforehand – then feel free to dump your carefully plotted plan in a bin when you overhear someone else talking about this extraordinary thing they have discovered and go with the flow.

Be patient

When you are consulting the official website, try not to scream. You have to navigate a map rather than a traditional programme format – though, at least, this year it’s broken down in to French regions, which is marginally less frustrating.

It is actually much easier if you know the specific museums you are interested in visiting, as they have individual programmes of events. But half the fun of a night like this is visiting somewhere you’ve never been before.

Wear comfortable shoes and travel light

Wear shoes for the long haul rather than the first impression. There will be distances to cover and you might even find yourself dancing in the middle of a museum. 

And blisters are never a good partner with great art. Leave your skateboard and shopping trolley at home, they will just prove a nuisance when you are going through security checks.

Come early – or late – to avoid endless queues

Arriving at the Louvre at 8pm is always going to mean a giant queue. And nothing ruins a night quicker than spending most of it standing in an unmoving line. Try to escape peak times at the major museums – but check they’re not doing something interesting that you don’t want to miss – hip hop dance classes in the Department of Oriental Antiquities, in the Louvre’s Richelieu wing, for example…

Go somewhere you’ve never been to before

Do a lucky dip. Pick somewhere you’ve never heard of and know nothing about. What about the Musée de Valenciennes, which reopens after years of being closed to the public, for example. Its giving visitors the chance to see its fine art under ultraviolet light – which will reveal things you wouldn’t normally see.

Or you could delve deep into the Aude Departmental Archives, in Carcassonne, and discover the amazing life stories of some of the region’s historical figures

Make it social

Gather the troops, this is a night for multi-generations of family and friends. Art, history and culture, is very much a shared experience and you can usually find something that everyone loves – or hates.

Plan a pitstop

You will always need refreshing and wouldn’t a night of culture be wonderfully enhanced by a delicious picnic on the banks of the Seine, if you’re in Paris. 

Your mind will need a little pause from all the intellectual overload. Find a spot, listen to the music (there’s always music from somewhere) and watch the Bateaux Mouches go by as you eat a baguette with some good local cheese and some saucisson.