Copyright dispute erupts over Doctor Who character

A fictional character featured in the 2017 Christmas episode of Doctor Who is at the centre of a copyright dispute between the BBC and the estate of now-deceased television writer Mervyn Haisman.

The dispute emerged after December’s Christmas special introduced new character Captain Archibald Lethbridge-Stewart, played by comedian Mark Gatiss.

In the episode, the character was revealed to be the grandfather of recurring character Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart (known affectionately as ‘The Brigadier’) – who was first introduced in 1989 and long played by British actor Nicholas Courtenay.

Screenwriter Mervyn Haisman, who passed away in 2010, is commonly credited with having created The Brigadier character.

Upon seeing the 2017 Doctor Who Christmas special, however, Mr Haisman’s estate has accused the BBC of creating a relative to the iconic character without seeking its permission beforehand.

As a result of this, reports suggest that the Haisman estate intends to pursue legal action against BBC bosses.

“Characters are considered creative works and are protected by copyright law,” Andy Frankham-Allen, Creative Director of the Haisman Estate, told The Mirror.

“As such, we reserve the right to determine what is officially part of our intellectual property,” he said.

“If derivative works are created without our permission, then we will determine if/how they fit into our IP. We reserve the right to accept or reject any additions to our intellectual properties,” he said.

In response to the claims, a BBC spokesperson denied the accusations.

“This claim is without foundation [and] there has been no breach of copyright,” they said.

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