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28 October 2014
Jonathan Creek

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Jonathan Creek
The American series
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It's not widely known that there have been two attempts to make a US version of Jonathan Creek.

The first involved Castle Rock, the production company behind series such as Seinfeld.

Unfortunately, a draft script submitted American writers wasn't really up to scratch. David Renwick explains why:

"It was all being played a bit too tongue in cheek really. The comedy wasn't funny enough and the dark stuff wasn't dark enough, in my opinion. It was a bit on a sort of Avengers level, which is not really how the show works.

"Anyway, there came a point where Glen Padnick at Castle Rock said, 'Why don't you have a go at doing a draft yourself?'

"I did an adaptation of the Jack In The Box episode which I was actually really quite pleased with, and I got a fairly prompt response from him saying, 'This is never going to work for CBS because it skews too old.'

"This was down to the fact that we had this eighty year-old ex-Vaudevillian character who dies on page eight, and the fact that he was even in the show at that age was very damaging to their potential demographic. You just think, 'Right, well I wash my hands of any project where you're not allowed to have an old person in the script... They literally can't even countenance the idea of an eighty year-old man being on screen for three minutes.'

"It's just another world entirely, and so that basically was what screwed its chances at CBS."

There was a second attempt at making a version of the show for the American market, but this time David Renwick was asked to be more closely involved:

"I also did another script for Whoopi Goldberg, which brought back a very favourable response from her," David says. "It was never sold anywhere, nor did I particularly expect it to be, but the difference with the Whoopi Goldberg one was that she was very keen to keep Alan in it, playing Creek in America."

Fascinated by the prospect of an American Jonathan Creek, we asked David if we could reproduce an extract of the script he wrote for Castle Rock, based on Jack in the Box.

Click on the links below to see both the English and American versions of a scene from the episode.

Jack in the Box - UK script extract.

The Silent Clown - US script extract.

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