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.
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.
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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.
— Quotidien (@Qofficiel) February 8, 2021
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.
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.
— CANAL+ (@canalplus) December 27, 2017
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.
Nouveau défi de Nans et Mouts : faire du stop sans parler !
— France 5 (@France5tv) August 17, 2021
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.
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.