The fact that there are these general differences in approach between the British recordings and American ones is a result of historical differences in the aims of the research teams in the two countries who developed the original stereo techniques during the early 1930's.
In Britain, Alan Blumlein's team was most interested in providing good stereo images in a domestic environment, with as much a sense of "being there" as possible. So, they were dealing mostly with a situation in which there would only be a small number of listeners who would be able to cluster themselves in or around the "stereo seat". In this case, one pair of crossed coincident mics could be used to create amplitude panned material in two channels to be fed to two speakers. The microphones he used were figure of eight types, crossed at 90o so that as sounds crossed the stage in front of the mic pair, the level coming from one decreases whilst the level from the other increases. This arrangement gives a very natural sound, although the front soundstage is not as wide on the speakers as it is in real life (angular distortion) and the sound is more reverberant since the sounds from the rear of the mics is picked up equally loudly but is mapped onto the frontal image produced by the pair of speakers. This is why most modern usage of this coincident pair technique uses mics with cardioid polar patterns to reduce the rear pickup.
The team at Bell Labs in the States were much more concerned with providing stereo to large audiences eg. for film sound (although Blumlein's original patent mentions film sound frequently). As such, many listeners would not be in the ideal stereo seat and there would be a considerable problem with the "hole in the middle", especially since this is where much of the dialogue would be expected to be coming from. Accordingly, they worked with three channels (the centre channel on film is still called the dialogue channel) feeding three speakers. The channels were derived from either widely spaced microphones (often referred to as a curtain of mics) or via a rather complex panpot. While this approach does not give as good results in the domestic situation as Blumlein stereo, it works very well in the area for which it was designed.