Only One Episode of ‘The Office’ Was Based on the British Version of the Show
The Office was a hit series on NBC that ran for about eight years and became one of the most popular sitcoms of the 2000’s. While the show was well-known for being an American classic, it actually got its start across the pond.
However, despite being based off of a British series, The Office in the U.S. only had one episode that was similar to its British counterpart. Read on below to find out which episode this is.
The British version of ‘The Office’ premiered in 2001
In 2001, BBC premiered The Office, which was created by comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The show starred Gervais as David Brent, the manager of the white-collar office in which the series is based around.
Even though BBC’s The Office did relatively well with critics, it aired only two seasons (each with six episodes) as well as a Christmas special before being canceled due to low ratings.
The American version of ‘The Office’ was a lot more successful
The failure of the British version of The Office did not stop producer Greg Daniels from importing the show to American audiences. He went on to create the American adaptation of The Office for NBC starring Steve Carell as manager Michael Scott. The show premiered in 2005.
NBC’s The Office soon became a hit with both viewers and critics alike. It became a pop culture phenomenon and won many awards, such as one Golden Globe and four Primetime Emmys. The series also ran for nine seasons long before going off the air in 2013.
There is not a clear cut answer as to why the American version of The Office did significantly better than its British counterpart, though some fans have pointed to things such as Michael Scott’s likability compared to David Brent and the more engaging love stories in the American version as reasons why viewers stayed year after year.
Only the pilot episode of the American series was based on the British version
The two shows might be based on the same premise with very similar characters, but NBC’s The Office did things rather differently than the BBC version. For one thing, there was actually only one episode that was based on BBC’s The Office and it was the pilot.
As shared by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey in their podcast, Office Ladies, the pilot for the American Office utilized the same script as the British one, though of course some changes were made wherever necessary. Nevertheless, fans who watched both versions will notice the same jokes and punchlines appearing in both pilots.
Fischer revealed: “Greg Daniels was the person who was tasked with Americanizing the British show, and Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant kind of oversaw that process, but they were not on set when we were shooting the pilot.”
However, Gervais and Merchant were there when the cast did a table read and they even had lunch with a few actors to discuss more about the show.
The British influence could clearly be felt in the pilot, but NBC’s The Office took on a life of its own after that. The second episode of season 1 — “Diversity Day” — was a completely American invention that ultimately set the tone for the rest of the series.
“After the pilot episode of our show, we started writing original story lines,” Fischer said. “And the writers refer to [‘Diversity Day’] as ‘the pilot after the pilot’… because they felt like this was establishing what the American version is going to be like.”
To this day, “Diversity Day” remains one of the most memorable episodes in the American version.