Sued over Sellers

Wrangle over home movie footage

The estate of Peter Sellers is reportedly suing the BBC over the rights to intimate home movie footage of the actor.

Lawyers are said to have lodged a High Court writ claiming that private material contained on a 90-minute DVD Sellers on Sellers was used without permission.

Private film of Sellers, including his video diaries, was lent to the BBC by model Lynne Frederick, Sellers' third wife, for an award-winning Arena documentary in 1995, a year after she died.

That programme was re-edited for broadcast in 2002, and it is this version that was released by BBC Worldwide earlier this year.

Publicity at the time said: “Made with the full co-operation of his close friends and family, [the DVD] pieces together a most extraordinary portrait of a most extraordinary man

“The home movies show how he relished the medium of film and used it thoroughly to record his own life.”

But now the BBC has been told to take the £18 title off the shelves pending the outcome of this week’s court case, The Mirror reports.

Scott Whiteleather, who represents the trustees, told the paper: "The BBC is trying to profit from the unauthorised use of Peter Sellers' copyrighted material."

However, the corporation is expected to contest the claim, saying it holds the copyright to the disputed material.

Four years ago, the estate launched another bid to recover a multi-million pound legacy of royalties it believed Sellers was owed prior to his 1980 death.

At that time, Whiteleather said: There are royalties from a variety of sources that have failed to materialize and we are going to the various parties to get all that money back.

“The circumstances of >Peter Sellers' estate are complicated because he owned the rights to some films and not others."

Published: 13 Dec 2004

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