Doctor Who: Christmas special legal action threat downplayed

This story contains spoilers for the Doctor Who Christmas special, Twice Upon A Time.

An odd story yesterday popped up at The Mirror, that suggested last month’s Doctor Who Christmas special, Twice Upon A Time, was set to be the subject of legal action. In an article entitled ‘Row breaks out over Doctor Who Christmas episode’, it reckoned that the necessary people at the BBC didn’t seek the permission apparently required to reuse the character of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

As you may recall, Mark Gatiss’ character, The Captain, is revealed to be a Lethbridge-Stewart at the end of the episode, and at the Q&A following the first screening of Twice Upon A Time – that Cultbox was at – he confirmed that his character was the beloved Brigadier’s grandfather.

Which is where the apparent problem kicked in. Because the character of the Brigadier was in part created by Mervyn Haisman, and the Haisman Estate, the article argued, wasn’t happy. Andy Frankham-Allen, creative director of said estate, was quoted in The Mirror as saying “characters are considered creative works and are protected by copyright law”.

“As such, we reserve the right to determine what is officially part of our intellectual property. If derivative works are created without our permission, then we will determine if/how they fit into our IP”.

The BBC, though, was quick to play things down.

And so, as it happened, was Andy Frankham-Allen. He took to Twitter to confirm that he hadn’t actually spoken to The Mirror at all, and that it was all a non-issue. Here are his key Tweets on the matter…

He also clarified that there’s no row at all, and no threats were made. Understandably, he seems really quite frustrated that a fuss is being made over a threat that he never made and a fuss that he didn’t incite.