Classic British sitcom ‘Only Fools and Horses’ has found itself stuck in the middle of a copyright row between two theatre companies over their adaptation of the TV series.
The producers of Only Fools and Horses the Musical have accused Interactive Theatre International (ITI), the makers of a cabaret-style dinner show inspired by the sitcom’s characters of infringing copyright by presenting a ‘low quality’ version of the much-loved series.
Phil McIntyre Entertainments (PME), a London-based event and live entertainment company, are promoting a new musical based on “Only Fools and Horses” which is set to open in London in February 2019, with the permission of series creator John Sullivan’s estate.
They are accusing their rivals of producing an unauthorised production which does not compensate the creators of the original TV series.
ITI describes their show as a loving tribute to the BBC series. It uses characters and settings from the series to bring a ‘hilarious night out with the Trotters at the Nag’s Head’ including a three-course meal.
They believe themselves to be innocent of copyright infringement, as the show does not use scripts or music from the original series. Lawyers instructed by the John Sullivan estate wrote to the company earlier this year to warn it against using material but they received no further contact.
PME said it was unhappy with ITI’s theatrical dining experiences and accused the company of presenting performances based on Only Fools and Horses that do not compensate the original creators, whilst PME offered an authorised production that did.
According to ITI, their rival contacted venues set to host performances of the show threatening legal action if the performances went ahead.
This has led to Alison Pollard-Mansergh, company and artistic director at ITI claiming that “PME is bullying venues into not taking our shows in a bid to bully us out of the market”.