Son of Only Fools And Horses writer ‘runs out of room to store goods’

The son of the writer who created the hit sitcom Only Fools And Horses told a judge he was running out of space to store goods.

Jim Sullivan, 43, son of John Sullivan, told Judge John Kimbell he didn’t know “what to do with it”.

Mr Sullivan was giving evidence in a High Court copyright battle with the operators of an ‘interactive theatrical dining experience’.

A company set up by his father, who died in 2011, has taken legal action against Only Fools the Dining Experience.

Shazam Productions alleges show Only Fools The (cushty) Dining Experience infringes copyright on sitcom scripts and “each of the central characters”, and that the show’s marketing involved “passion” .

My concern is always to avoid confusion. My concern is the future

Jim Sullivan

Lawyers representing the Dining Experience dispute Shazam’s claims and fight the case.

Judge Kimbell is considering the arguments at a High Court hearing in London which is due to end later this week.

Mr. Sullivan, director of Shazam, said his job is to manage his father’s job and generate income for the family.

The judge saw photographs of merchandise and was briefed on the arrangements between Shazam and the BBC.

“I’m running out of space to store it,” Mr Sullivan, who was three when the sitcom first aired in 1981, told Judge.

“I don’t know what to do with it.”

He also gave insight into his father’s work, saying his goal was to write for live audiences.

Mr Sullivan, who gave evidence via video link, said the music featured in the sitcom was also important to his father and added: ‘He chose just about every song on the show.’

He said he had been involved in creating a musical Only Fools And Horses, and the dining experience wasn’t “that different”.

Tom Bennett and Paul Whitehouse in a musical version of Only Fools And Horses (Trevor Leighton/PME/PA)

(PA Media)

“My concern is always to avoid any confusion,” he told the judge. “My concern is the future.”

Judge heard the cooking experience show is a ‘part scripted, part improvised’ dramatic performance featuring central sitcom characters including Del Boy, Rodney, Uncle Albert, Marlene, Cassandra, Boycie , Trigger and DCI Roy Slater.

Lawyers representing Shazam say the characters have the “distinctive character traits designed by John Sullivan” and used their “iconic phrases and ways of speaking”.

They say the judge will have to determine whether the sitcom scripts and character Del Boy are “literary” and “dramatic” works.

The operators of the cooking experience show argue that their use of the sitcom’s characters and elements is not copyrightable material.

They deny ‘passing’ on the ‘foot’ that their show would not be seen as tied to the owners of the sitcom’s intellectual property, but as an unofficial tribute show – and question whether Shazam, rather than the BBC, owns goodwill attached to the name Only Fools And Horses.

Australian Alison Pollard-Mansergh, owner of the dining experience, told the judge that its aim was to allow people to interact with the characters in a “new environment”.

She said she had “binge-watched” the first two series of the sitcom and added, “I really didn’t like series one and two – and I didn’t want to watch any more.”

The judge heard she had set up a similar dining experience at Fawlty Towers.

Carl Steele, an attorney at Ashfords law firm, which represents Shazam, said in court that the judge’s ruling could clarify copyright law.