Edge Of Darkness (2010)
The Original: The BBC’s acclaimed 1985 Cold War thriller about a copper (Bob Peck) discovering a massive conspiracy after daughter Joanne Whalley dies.
Directed by future Bond reboot king Martin Campbell from a complex script by Italian Job scribe Troy Kennedy Martin, it swept the BAFTAS with six wins, including Best Drama Series and Best Actor.
The Makeover: Unusually for a remake, the original team – director Campbell and producer Michael Wearing – are on board, alongside three alumni from The Departed : producer Graham King, writer William Monaghan and co-star Ray Winstone.
Sturdy credentials, then – but all eyes are on Mel Gibson, in his first acting role since 2002 after taking time off to direct two obscure foreign-language movies.
Moment You Know You're Watching A Hollywood Movie: Sombre and downbeat it may have been, but the British version didn't skimp on set-pieces, notably an agonisingly tense infiltration of the enemy's stronghold.
The one thing it didn't have, though, was a car chase. Then again, the original didn't star Mad Max.
The Avengers (1998)
The Original: Freewheeling, oh-so-Sixties carnival of surrealism and kick-ass action, starring Patrick Macnee as bowler-hatted secret agent John Steed, investigating bizarre crimes with the help of feisty, kinkily-dressed female partners, notably Emma Peel (Diana Rigg).
Little known fact: the long-lost first series was a hard-hitting revenge thriller, with Steed joined by genuine avenger David Keel (Ian Hendry).
The Makeover: Based on the show’s mid-Sixties Steed/Peel period, Jeremiah Chechik’s blockbuster paired Ralph Fiennes with Uma Thurman to fight mad weatherman Sir August De Wynter (Sean Connery).
Mistaking the original’s show eccentric whimsy for raucous spectacle, the film’s lack of coherence was underlined when an hour was lopped off the running time after disastrous test screenings. If you have any idea what's going on, let us know.
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Movie: Any of the film's overblown set-pieces would do...but nothing trumps the misbegotten casting of the leads.
Chosen, presumably, based on one-note reading of their acting (Fiennes, posh; Thurman, sassy), nobody’s thought about whether they’d have any chemistry. Macnee and Rigg luxuriated in flirtatious banter; these two come across like bored commuters making small talk.
The Original: Not a series, so much as a sketchbook - cheerfully racist Kazakh reporter Borat Sagdiyev was the break-out star of Sasha Baron Cohen's The Ali G Show .
Usually given only a few minutes of screen-time, Borat confirmed that his creator's character ventriloquism, sharp mind and utter lack of fear weren't confined to the West Staines Massiv.
The Makeover: When The Ali G Show went Stateside with a second series on HBO, Baron Cohen's movie career as "the new Peter Sellers" took flight.
While Ali G's transfer to film, Ali G Indahouse , had been a typical scripted Britcom, Baron Cohen now had the confidence to bring the style of the original sketches to a larger canvas.
Moment You Know You're Watching A Hollywood Film: Baron Cohen gets so close to avoiding it. The cruel irreverence of letting real people hang themselves on film is relentlessly funny and subversive.
But when Pamela Anderson turns up, that well-forged realism takes a hard knock - she has to be in on the joke. It might be a parody of a standard-issue celeb cameo, but that still makes it a standard-issue celeb cameo.
Pennies From Heaven (1981)
The Original: Revered telly dramatist Dennis Potter’s groundbreaking serial juxtaposed the harsh realities of 1930s Britain with elaborate musical numbers, as a struggling sheet-music salesman retreats into fantasy for a bit of song-and-dance.
In the role that made him a star in Britain, Bob Hoskins cuts an unlikely but infectious twinkle-toes as Arthur Parker.
The Makeover: Potter earned an Oscar nomination retooling his series for the big-screen, with Herbert Ross directing Steve Martin (in his first serious role) as Arthur.
For purists, it's a case of hammering Potter's round peg into the square hole of studio formula: Potter himself ended up loathing it. But those ambitious tonal shifts still proved too much for Martin’s fanbase, expecting a Jerk -style zaniness that just wasn't there.
Moment You Know You’re Watching A Hollywood Movie: Unsurprisingly, the musical numbers are epic and dazzling in a way the humble budgets of the BBC could never cope with. Christopher Walken's tap-tastic 'Let's Misbehave' predates that Fatboy Slim vid by two decades.
The Original: Made in Supermarionation, Gerry Anderson’s 1960s adventures charted the adventures of the Tracy family aka International Rescue, racing against time to rescue disaster-prone eejits using way-cool vehicles and gizmos.
The Makeover: While faithful in design and featuring a spot-on Sophia Myles as Lady Penelope, International Rescue’s girl in London, Jonathan (Commander Riker) Frakes’ kids-first reboot puts teenage Alan Tracy at the forefront of the action for an anonymous Spy Kids / Agent Cody Banks clone.
It doesn't help that the film is live-action. In its own fucked-up way, Team America: World Police is probably your better bet for the spirit, if not the letter, of Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds .
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Movie: Much of the series' random chaos was generated by mysterious villain, The Hood - but, on telly, his motives remained opaque.
The film translates that into a cookie-cutter revenge backstory, paving the way for a stereotypical 'mad Brit' performance from Ben Kingsley, who appears to be told to play it like Sexy Beast... without the swearing.
State Of Play (2009)
The Original: Before showing us how to party on Shameless ’ Chatsworth Estate, writer Paul Abbott stalked the corridors of power in his Edge of Darkness -influenced conspiracy thriller.
John Simm is Cal McCaffrey, the reporter investigating the murder of a young woman who happens to be the mistress of old buddy-turned-politician Stephen Collins (David Morrissey).
The Makeover: Although the story’s bogeyman changes from an oil company to a private defence contractor, the Stateside relocation is pretty faithful if inevitably condensed.
That a decent amount of the original's homegrown cynicism remains is largely due to Brit ex-documentarian Kevin MacDonald's grounded style. If anything, Russell Crowe is so dishevelled as Cal he makes the well-groomed Simm look like the Hollywood interloper.
The moment you know you’re watching a Hollywood film: The film relies on us buying that Cal and Collins were bezza mates back at uni. But as soon as larrikin Crowe shares the screen with preppy Ben Affleck, all bets are off. How'd they meet? Were they shagging the same bird or something?
OK, we're being unfair - both are excellent individually, all the more impressive since they were last-minute replacements for Fight Clubbers Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.
But, together, it suggests the casting was achieved by throwing darts at pictures of yeah-they’re-famous-enough actors.
The Singing Detective (2003)
The Original: Another Dennis Potter gem, with his stylistic sequel to Pennies From Heaven again marrying bleak, literate drama with old-school hoofing.
This time, the setting is the 1940s and the focus on crime writer Philip Marlowe (Michael Gambon), suffering hallucinations and flashbacks as he recovers from a debilitating skin disease.
The Makeover: Such was Potter’s reputation as a maverick that many directors (including, allegedly, Robert Altman) wanted to adapt his masterpiece, but were thwarted by funding. Shame: Altman would have been perfect for Potter's freeform style.
In the end producer/co-star Mel Gibson - obviously a big fan of the BBC's back catalogue - used his influence to make the big-screen version, with the then down-on-his-luck Robert Downey Jr a brave but prescient choice as the mercurial lead.
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Film: In a surprisingly reverential remake, it's the rare notes of dumbing-down stand out the more.
Updating the original’s cleverly-integrated 40s jazz standards to more commercial rock and roll tunes, for example, or the ridiculous renaming of Marlowe as Dan Dark (robbing the film of one of Potter's best in-jokes).
The Saint (1997)
The Original: If we're getting technical about it, Leslie Charteris' heroic thief-cum-sleuth Simon Templar - aka The Saint - was a Hollywood character long before he became a telly icon, thanks to a series of 1940s B-movies starring George Sanders.
But it's the 1960s ITC adventure series starring a pre-Bond Roger Moore that everybody remembers, not least for its catchy musical refrain.
The Makeover: Philip Noyce's action movie arrived in the midst of the late-90s obsession with rebooting bankable TV properties ( Mission: Impossible ; The Avengers ; Lost in Space ).
Perhaps because Val Kilmer's Templar is a master of disguise, this one ended up being the most generic of the lot, despite Orbital's funky techno update of the theme tune.
Moment You Know You're Watching A Hollywood Movie: Every time Kilmer dons a disguise, basically.
In order to hide those chiselled good looks, he's saddled with a succession of mullets and moustaches, each one a masterclass in unintentional hilarity.
The Original: Inspired by Chaplin and Jacques Tati, Rowan Atkinson's innocent but hapless man-child brought old-school slapstick back into vogue.
Bean's near-wordless exploits transcended language barriers: Mr Bean was a staggering global hit, exported to an estimated 200 territories. Proof that watching an idiot fall over is funny wherever you are.
The Makeover: Like the later Borat , there was only one place Bean was headed if he was to make a feature-length movie: America.
Yet, instead of just letting Bean loose on a road trip, Mel Smith's film anchors Atkinson down with something approaching a plot. Oh, and Bean talks, too. Just let him mumble and fall over already.
Moment You Know You're Watching A Hollywood Movie: Bean's presence wreaks havoc in the all-American family he's lodging with... Fair enough: it's a common trope of the TV series.
Until you remember that this is Hollywood. With the final act looming into view, there comes the awful realisation that he's going to win them over and live happily ever after. By falling over, probably.
The Men Who Stare At Goats (2009)
The Original: Surely Goats started out as Jon Ronson's best-selling non-fiction book about the covert cul-de-sacs of American military thinking?
Well...no. First it was a Channel 4 documentary, Crazy Rulers Of The World , in which Jonson and filmmaker John Sergeant revealed the existence of off-their-trolley thinktanks trying to adapt paranormal and New Age techniques to the battlefield.
The Makeover: Inevitably, the mix of batshit-mental subject matter and Ronson's tongue-in-cheek exposition was never going to result in hard-hitting drama.
With star/producer George Clooney ever ready to indulge his zany side, so it proved, Grant Heslov's film emerging as a Kubrickian screwball comedy.
Moment You Know You're Watching A Hollywood Movie: Clooney's character actually calls the film's psychic spies "Jedi warriors." So, with crushing inevitability, the film gets around to introducing its very own Dark Lord of the Sith... Kevin Spacey.
The Original: 1989's Traffik , Channel 4’s hard-hitting, multi-strand mini-series about the drug trade, showed the effect of heroin on growers, dealers and users while a Government Czar attempts to stamp out crime despite his own daughter being an addict.
The Makeover: Steven Soderbergh struggled to get his adaptation – with its subject matter and complex structure – greenlit, but with his star in the ascendant after Out of Sight and Erin Brockovich , he got to do it his way.
Innovative use of colour filters and sharp editing kept the multiple stories clear and distinct, enough to win Soderbergh a Best Director Oscar in the year of Ridley Scott's Gladiator .
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Film: Benicio Del Toro also bagged a gold fella, for his Spanish-language performance as a Mexican cop struggling to stay straight in the face of widespread corruption.
Radical and daring? Not when you consider Del Toro's subplot replaced Traffik 's section about a Pakistani farmer growing heroin. In Hollywood, cop trumps farmer every time.
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (2005)
The Original: Douglas Adams' comedic vision of life, the universe and everything, in which ordinary bloke Arthur Dent (Simon Jones) is whisked off on an intergalactic jaunt by best friend/secret alien hitchhiker Ford Prefect (David Dixon)
Conceived for radio, then expanded as a novel, by the time of the 1989 TV version, Adams' restless imagination was seriously testing the limits of the BBC's special effects wizards - but the charm and innovation of its hand-crafted visuals win through.
The Makeover: Adams died in 2001 before finalising his fourth distinct version of Hitchhikers' but his ideas formed the blueprint for music video maestro Garth Jennings' debut film.
Dismissed by purists who forget there's never been a pure version of the story, it's patchy but just about hangs together thanks to Jennings' resourceful visuals (the knitted interlude is a treat) and some delightfully offbeat casting (notably rapper Mos Def as Ford Prefect).
Moment You Know You're Watching A Hollywood Movie: If the scale of the construction floor on Magrathea doesn't make you gawp, you've been listening to too much Vogon poetry.
The Original: Adapted from Fay Weldon’s darkly comic revenge fantasy, The Lives And Loves Of A She Devil sees vengeful plain jane Ruth Patchett (Julie T. Wallace) unleash her wrath over philandering hubbie Dennis Waterman and mistress Patricia Hodge.
Even with a sterling cast that included bonkers ex- Doctor Who Tom Baker, it was still a shock when it beat hot favourite The Singing Detective to the BAFTA.
The Makeover: Desperately Seeking Susan director Susan Seidelman was a smart choice for She-Devil ’s frivolous feminism, but she could do little to stop Roseanne Barr steamroller her way through her first lead film role. And, don't forget, Seidelman once persuaded Madonna to act.
Meryl Streep, as the vampy mistress, has to pull out all the stops just to get noticed next to the grotesque mole on Barr's lip.
Moment You Know You’re Watching a Hollywood Film: The big set-piece where Patchett blows up the family home in an act of revenge is an impressive bit of pyrotechnics...completely undone by the shoddy effects work superimposing Roseanne in the foreground for the scene's money shot.
Only in Hollywood could something so expensive be made to look so cheap.