Amazon has lifted the lid on a host of new series in development for its recently rebranded Freevee service, including a US remake of cult British comedy show Inside No. 9.
Formerly known as IMDb TV (which itself was rebranded from IMDb Freedive in 2019), Freevee is Amazon’s free, ad-supported video channel, available to Amazon account holders in the US and UK through the Prime Video website or app.
Amazon recently pledged to increase the platform’s slate of free-to-watch original content by 70% in 2022, and the company’s latest announcement reveals the names of several shows it hopes will contribute to reaching that ambitious target in the coming months.
Among the newly unveiled projects are a second season of Bosch: Legacy, which has been renewed ahead of its premiere on May 6, and series orders for existing unscripted specials America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation and Play-Doh Squished.
By far the most interesting of the bunch, though, is Amazon’s planned remake of Inside No. 9. Having run for six seasons (between 2014 and 2021) on UK channel BBC One, the anthology series tells various stories that, despite featuring different characters and settings, are all linked in some way by the number 9 (and, incidentally, a brass statue of a hare).
The series was – and will continue to be – written by British actors Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, who also serve as its only recurring cast members. Across its 37 episodes, Inside No. 9 has featured cameo appearances from the likes of Sir Derek Jacobi, Helen McCrory, Gemma Arterton and Rory Kinnear.
Amazon’s US-focused remake is being developed by Lionsgate Television and BBC Studios Los Angeles Productions (the duo responsible for CBS comedy Ghosts), though we don’t expect it to arrive until at least the end of the year.
Announcing the show’s development, Lauren Anderson, Co-Head of Content and Programming at Freevee, said: “We want to do inventive, noisy, interesting television and [Inside No. 9] is one of one. We hope we can make a version that is worthy of the legacy.”
Analysis: a history of imitation
American entertainment studios have a history of finding success by fishing from Britain’s comedy pond. NBC’s adaptation of BBC sitcom The Office is the foremost example of a British show-turned-overseas sensation, though Netflix’s House of Cards and HBO’s Veep also owe their existence to UK originals.
Amazon will therefore be hoping it strikes the same gold with Inside No. 9, even if the show’s exclusivity to Freevee limits its mainstream appeal (such is the irony of free programming in the age of streaming services).
Having said that, Inside No. 9 won’t mark the first time Amazon has adapted an international entertainment property. An English-language remake of acclaimed French comedy series Call My Agent! – which originally aired on Netflix – recently came to Prime Video, AMC Plus and Sundance Now (depending on your region), for instance, while the company also has experience breathing new life into ageing franchises like Jack Reacher and Lord of the Rings.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether Amazon’s Inside No. 9 adaptation will recapture the magic of its cult-status original – but at least you won’t have to pay to find out.