Did you know that The Beverly Hillbillies became a big hit in Britain?

The Beverly Hillbillies wasn't just for the country folk, it was for the Brits too!

Image credit: The Everett Collection

The Beverly Hillbillies had a successful nine-season run between 1962 and 1971. Many Americans enjoyed the series because of its exaggerated characters, the portrayal of a simple life and the chemistry between the cast.

However, many critics argued otherwise. You can call The Beverly Hillbillies whatever you want: silly, quirky or funny — but critics would tell you that the series was a sad commentary on the American education and intelligence level. 

Despite what the critics said about The Beverly Hillbillies, the series stayed ranked among the top-rated series in the country for almost its entire run. However, America wasn't the only place the hillbillies explored. At the time, The Beverly Hillbillies was spreading like wildfire in Britain.

According to a 1965 interview with The Charlotte News, Buddy Ebsen, who played the role of Jed Clampett, said he had many fans in Britain who loved the series and helped it become an international hit.

"The English see more humor in this show than Americans do," Ebsen said.

Ebsen said he didn't go out of his way to try and figure out why the hillbillies became so popular in England — but based on the comments he received from the people he met, he knew the show had a tremendous following and impact there. 

During the summer of '64, Ebsen said he took his wife and five children to England where they toured the home of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford. They did their best to accommodate Ebsen and treated him like a King.

"They changed my part a little, ya know," Ebsen said. "For a time I was nothing but a hillbilly straight man feeding straight lines to the others. But they put more backbone in old Jed."

The Beverly Hillbillies became popular in Britain for several reasons: the unusual humor, cultural curiosity, shared language and of course, the loveable characters. However, Ebsen believed it was because the hillbillies had a "kinship with country people everywhere" — even across the world.

The series helped Ebsen have a successful career both in America and in Britain. According to a 1966 interview with the Democrat and Chronicle, Ebsen said Henning refused to do the series with anyone but Ebsen playing Jed Clampett.

"The whole world is looking for a father figure and old Jed Clampett is just that," Ebsen said. "Our success is the same as that of Bonanza. Papa Cartwright has the same sort of appeal. Their families love and respect them."

The love and respect must have struck a chord with people across the world who related to their family problems and family dynamics. Ebsen's foresight was a huge reason The Beverly Hillbillies became successful. Without Jed as the head of the household, the series may not have lasted as long as it did. He knew what America... and Britain... needed.

"We let viewers know there are several kinds of fathers in the world," Ebsen said. "We've never been out of the top ten and with a little luck, maybe we can stay up there for a few more years — no matter what the critics say."

Watch The Beverly Hillbillies on MeTV!

Weeknights at 9 PM, Saturdays at 6 & 6:30 AM, Sundays at 2 & 2:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
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10 Comments

MikefromJersey 2 months ago
The episode where the Clampetts go to London, there is an extended scene of them with their truck
in front of Buckingham Palace. Then as they motor thru London, take note of the locals looking
up as they pass. Hilarious! The story of how they got permission to film in front of the palace
and then drive that wreck in England is probably worth a look by the MeTV staff.
When I was at the front gates of Buckingham Palace for the 11 AM changing of the guard -
well worth seeing when you go over there - I told my fellow tourists about the
Clampetts and their truck being right where we were standing, but nobody believed me!
Talk then turned to the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy tried to make one of the
British Guardsmen react/smile at her, a classic.
I am surprised the MeTV guys who wrote this piece didn't refer to the England set episodes.
15inchBlackandWhite 2 months ago
The French apparently thought Jerry Lewis was a comedy genius. Personally I'd find it much higher praise to be thought a comedy genius in England. I've never met a Brit who wasn't absolutely out of his mind. Those people know humor.
All you have to do is look at Benny Hill and Monty Python to know the Brits have a sense of humor.
The four Black Adder series are excellent, starring Rowan "Mr. Bean" Atkinson, who is also
a mate of the present King, Chuck Windsor.
The last episode of Black Adder IV, takes places in a WW 1 British army trench right before
they are going "over the top" to attack.
Believe it or not, the last 2 minutes of this episode are searing, one of the greatest comments
on war ever done, in both TV and the movies. A great achievement.
The producers and Atkinson knew it could never be topped, which may explain why they
didn't make more seasons of this world wide hit. They did make 1 or 2 "specials"
and filmed a few skits to help a British charity, but other than that, nothing.
Check out Black Adder's Christmas Carol, a Christmas special that is very funny.
LoveMETV22 2 months ago
That's good that The Beverly Hillbillies became a big hit in Britain.
There are several British series that seem to be popular across the pond so to say. Doctor Who is a British science fiction television series that seems to have fared well over the years and has a following in the USA. I like the earliest seasons the best.
Snickers LoveMETV22 2 months ago
Fan of the early Doctor Who as well, not so much when they turned the Doctor into a woman.
Andybandit 2 months ago
TBHB was a funny show. I can understand why it was popular in Britain.
Runeshaper 2 months ago
🇺🇸 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 both countries had good taste!
MrsPhilHarris 2 months ago
Jethro’s expression is interesting.
Dario 2 months ago
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