Katherine Rushton, Broadcast:
"A row has erupted over BBC sitcom In My Country after comedy writer Jim Miller claimed the corporation stole his idea.
Simon Nye has been commissioned to script the series, billed as a "multicultural Rising Damp", with Jane Berthoud producing. Stephen K Amos and Omid Djalili will star.
Miller, who writes for stand-up comics such as Jo Brand, claims he approached the BBC in 2006 with a similar series also featuring immigrants in a London guest house under the working title Settle Down Now.
Miller claims the corporation paid him £500 for a treatment, which was also overseen by Berthoud. Plans for a pilot episode fell apart and he parted with the BBC after it agreed he would get 50% of future format rights.
He also claims the BBC contacted his agent in July offering to pay £2,500 for unspecified rights to work he had done for the corporation. Miller claims he did not sign any contract but that the sum was paid into his bank account in any case.
He is now seeking a joint credit on In My Country and to keep the £2,500 as payment for his alleged input. The Writers' Guild is looking into the matter on his behalf and he has complained directly to BBC director general Mark Thompson and the BBC Trust.
The BBC said both In My Country and Settle Down Now were developed in parallel, that neither writer knew about the other project and that similarities were "nothing more than coincidence".
A BBC spokesperson said: "Having fully investigated Jim Miller's claims, the BBC is certain that it has not used any intellectual property owned by Jim Miller and that he has no legitimate claim to the format of In My Country.""
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