In North America, just like fishnet stockings and a push-up bra, a tuxedo and a British accent is so close to being soft core porn it should have a warning label. This is why we’re up to our entertainment elbows in expat Brits. They’re all over the place, from John Oliver’s weekly dose of escalating indignation to this new guy, James Corden, whose nightly impression of Ricky Gervais isn’t actually all that bad. But that’s the secret. The British accent is so sexy on this side of the Atlantic, Brits don’t have to do much except show up. You could give Bobo the dancing bear a bowtie and a few long vowels and even PETA would tune in. There’s nothing wrong with this, BTW, I just find it fascinating.
Check it out. Need a Lincoln? Look in London. Batman? Same again, please. Superman? One more time. Even Spiderman is a Brit, if not by birth. How about a villain who will literally steal the show? If Alan Rickman’s busy, try calling Tom Hiddleston. David Tennant could read the Ipswich telephone book and get an Emmy, and Benedict Cumberbatch has so many Cumberbitches is tow he wouldn’t even have to read it. Mark Strong, Kit Harington, Henry Cavill — the list goes on, and I haven’t even cracked open the Who’s Who of the Harry Potter franchise yet. There are so many Brits kicking around the American media these day that Jude Law, Hugh Laurie and Damien Lewis don’t even count anymore. It’s a wonder Clooney and the boys aren’t reduced to marrying rich lawyers or doing Chanel™ commercials just to make ends meet.
So what’s the deal?
Some people say our Anglophilia comes from watching too much PBS as children. After all, Masterpiece Theatre has been American highbrow for over forty years, from Upstairs, Downstairs (the first time) to Downton Abbey, with any number of Emmas thrown in the middle. Plus, for decades, Public TV has been so successfully murdering Brits every week that they’ve worn out one Sherlock Holmes and possibly three Miss Marples! That’s a lot of cultural tea and crumpets for impressionable young minds to digest.
Personally, though, I disagree. I believe our insatiable love affair with the Brits started here (see video) and is now irrevocably twisted into our DNA. (And kids, if you don’t know who this is, ask your grandmother — she’ll remember.)