Anger over Frankie film

Ex-lover threatens to sue

Frankie Howerd's lover is threatening to sue the BBC over its new film about the comedian’s troubled life.

Dennis Heymer cooperated with the makers Frankie Howerd: Rather You Than Me – but now claims the corporation ‘betrayed’ him.

Heymer, 80, believes the BBC promised to show a more sympathetic documentary about the 40 years he spent with the comedian immediately after the drama airs next month.

He says that was the only reason he agreed to work on the new show, which stars David Walliams, and he is refusing to take his £4,500 consultation fee in protest.

Heymer’s current partner, Chris Byrne, said: ‘I have a tape recording of producer Ben Evans saying it would be "a fantastic idea" to show the contrasting programmes.

He told the Daily Mail that the David Walliams’s portrayal of Howerd would be ‘a tawdry version of a lovely human being’ focussing only on his demons.

‘That's why we only agreed to cooperate with the BBC film,’ he added. ‘Because its executives gave us the impression the extra programme would strike a balance.

‘We're extremely upset at the way we've been treated and will now ask our lawyers to examine the possibility that Dennis' human rights have been abused’

However, when BBC executives watched the alternative When Frankie Met Dennis, they decided it ‘lacked clarity of purpose’ and would not be broadcast.

A corporation lawyer told Heymer they made no promise to show the documentary, and said that the producer’s comment was misinterpreted.

‘He only meant it to be "a general expression" of his enthusiasm for such a documentary’, the lawyer said.

Frankie Howerd: Rather You Than Me will be shown on BBC Four on April 9.

Published: 25 Mar 2008

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