Brits take America

Helen Mirren’s recent haul of awards for the small screen (for Elizabeth I) as well as for her bravura turn in The Queen is only the tip of the iceberg for the acclaim and impact that British actors are currently having on television across the pond. Some of the most prominent are:

Hugh Laurie: It was a huge surprise to British audiences to discover that Hugh Laurie is a gifted actor and a sex symbol – we’re more used to him playing the buffoon and pulling silly faces than pulling off a flawless American accent (actually the Americans just think he’s one of them). His portrayal of the acerbic Gregory House has garnered two Golden Globe Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Catch it on Five on Thursdays.

Ashley Jensen: As the straight-talking, warm-hearted Christina in Ugly Betty (currently on Channel 4 on Fridays), Ashley’s come along way from her role as Ricky Gervais’ best friend in Extras. (Fellow Brit Lucy David appears in a recurring cameo role, too.)

Naveen Andrews and Dominic Monaghan: These two very different actors grace the large cast of Lost (Sky One) as Sayid and Charlie. Naveen has been a fixture in Hollywood for a while now and Dominic has been making the most of his post-Lord of the Rings fame.

Dougray Scott: Joined the cast of Desperate Housewives (Channel 4) this year, and already has a devoted female following.

Claire Forlani: Recently joined the hit show CSI: New York (Five) as Dr Peyton Driscoll, the love interest for lead investigator Mac Taylor. The Las Vegas version of the show already features Louise Lombard, formerly of The House of Eliott.

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers: He may not look remotely like anybody’s idea of Henry VIII, but he’s currently having fun romping as the merry monarch in The Tudors, a glossy mini-series, to be seen on the BBC in the autumn.

The cast of Rome: Some of Britain’s finest actors and actresses have been biting the furniture in this vast historical miniseries (the second series just finished on US TV and will come to our screens in the summer), including James Purefoy, Ciaran Hinds, Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker, Tobias Menzies, Indira Varma and Lindsay Duncan to name but a few.

Christopher Eccleston: Having already wowed the US audience as Dr Who, he recently joined the cast of the acclaimed Heroes, playing someone who can make himself invisible.