A Touch of British – The Times When Pop Culture Took on a UK Spin

9 February 2023

We’re all very well aware of the cultural exports of the UK. The nations of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have given the world some incredible pieces of art, music, movies, and games.

Some of the most famous examples of this include The Beatles, Elton John, James Bond, Adele, Banksy, and Lemmings.

But every now and then we Brits take a piece of culture from elsewhere in the world and give it a distinctly British twist. Sometimes, we keep it for ourselves and other times we export it back for others to enjoy.

British Roulette

Roulette is a game that is known all around the world. It is distinctly French-sounding, though the two most popular variants are versions referred to as “American” and “European”. These and other lesser-known variants all work in similar ways, using a wheel, a ball, and a table where players can place their chips.

However, you will usually find that there are different numbers on roulette wheels, depending on the variant you’re playing. For example, while European roulette uses 37 individually-numbered pockets, there is a 38th included on American wheels. This is because games on the other side of the pond use an additional green pocket labelled “00” that increases the house edge from 2.7% to 5.26%.

There are many more niche variants of roulette too, such as ones in California that do away with a traditional wheel and use numbered playing cards instead. For a while, a unique version also existed here in the UK that was more favourable to players than any other type.

Due to a quirk in a 1960s law, casinos in Great Britain were not allowed to have a house edge. Instead, they could only earn revenue from charging entry and serving food and drink to their customers. This meant that British roulette was created, removing the green 0 pocket from the wheel.

It didn’t catch on elsewhere in the world and has pretty much become extinct now at home, too, but for a while, it was very popular among players.

Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto is, by many accounts, a British game. It was originally conceived in the 1990s by British developers at DMA Design up in Dundee, Scotland, and continues to be developed by Rockstar North, the successor to DMA.

However, you could be excused for thinking that GTA was a purely American game. After all, almost every release in the series has been set in satirical versions of US cities, has used American voice actors, and has riffed heavily on American culture.

The Houser brothers who were behind the games until very recently both hold American citizenship and have spent many years living in the USA. Additionally, Rockstar Games is owned by US-based Take-Two Interactive.

But in the late 1990s, the Houser brothers decided to put a British spin on their game by creating Grand Theft Auto: London 1969. This was originally released as an expansion to the first release but later as a stand-alone version and featured left-hand traffic, famous London landmarks, and popular culture from the late 1960s.

The Price is Right

The Price is Right was originally an American TV game show that tested contestants’ ability to estimate the cost of items. It first aired in 1972 and featured Bob Barker as the host, a job he held until he retired in 2007. It continues to run today having aired more than 10,000 episodes.

The show made it to British TV screens in 1984 when ITV purchased the rights to it in the UK and was hosted by Leslie Crowther until 1988 before it moved to Sky One for a year. ITV revived the game show in 1995, appointing Bruce Forsyth to the main role.

His run from 1995 to 2001 was, by far, the most successful and helped Forsyth to use some of his most famous catchphrases and even coin a few extras. These included, “Nice to see you, to see you nice”, “Oh, isn’t that a shame”, and “What do points make?”.

With Forsyth at the tiller, The Price is Right took on a distinctly British vibe that made it a very different show to the American one, despite it following a nearly identical format.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.



Go toTop