Producers of an old Channel 4 puppet comedy have suggested that BBC Three’s new show Mongrels has ‘ripped off’ their ideas.
The makers of the 2001 series Pets claim they have received 30 emails saying that the show ‘might be construed by more cynical viewers to be a high-budget rip-off’ of their show, which also featured foul-mouthed domestic animals in adult situations.
They even claim they once pitched the idea to Mark Freeland, the BBC’s head of comedy who is executive producer of the new show.
Andrew Barclay, who produced Pets, said: ‘We checked the BBC's Mongrels website this morning and the Beeb do appear to have hired the same puppet builders and puppeteers as Pets. We also notice that Mongrels' executive producer is Mark Freeland, to whom we did once pitch a Pets follow-up show.’
He added: ‘I'm sure it's just a coincidence’ – although his company Fit2Fill nonetheless sent out a press released detailing the similarities.
In the statement, the company said: ‘Is it possible that humble Pets (budget a mere £10,000 a show) has been an unwilling prototype for BBC Three's glossy primetime drive to bring adult puppet shows back into the comedy schedules?’
A BBC spokesperson said: 'Mongrels is entirely devised and created by Adam Miller and written Jon Brown and Danny Peak with the BBC, drawing inspiration from animation and puppetry of many kinds. It is a new and original production.'
Here is a clip from Mongrels:
And here is one from Pets: