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Stand-up comic starts legal action over Live At The Moth Club format

Tuesday 20th June 2023, 5:43pm

Shambles. Image shows from L to R: Harry (Harry Deansway), Lizzie Johnbags (Cassie Atkinson), Brian Legeite (Jody Kamali), Lex (Tamsyn Kelly), Toby (Joz Norris), Greg (Tony Marrese). Copyright: Wildseed Studios

Stand-up comedian Harry Deansway has started legal action against the production company behind Live At The Moth Club.

Deansway has issued a copyright infringement claim against Baby Cow Productions, in his belief that their 2022 sitcom for Dave infringes on the copyright of his own creation, the web series Shambles.

Launched in 2013, Shambles saw Deansway play the resident MC and promoter of a comedy club. The six-part series was filmed at Aces and Eights, the North London venue where Deansway ran a night of the same name in real life.

A second six-part series of Shambles, this time backed by Wildseed Studios, was produced and published in 2015.

The comedy co-starred Joe Davies, Jamie Glassman and Nat Luurtsema in the first series, whilst Tony Marrese, Tamsyn Kelly, Joz Norris, Jody Kamali and Cassie Atkinson appeared regularly in the second series (pictured above).

Meanwhile Live At The Moth Club (pictured below) featured Mark Heap, Lucia Keskin, Freddie Meredith, Kiell Smith-Bynoe, Cardinal Burns, Natasia Demetriou, Ellie White, Arnab Chanda and Jamie Demetriou in regular acting roles.

Live At The Moth Club

Deansway has instructed Keystone Law's media litigation partner Lawrence Abramson to represent him in the proceedings. They note of Shambles: "The first episode aired on 6 November 2013 and the series focused on a group of behind-the-scenes characters who were involved in the running of the comedy club and included scenes of live comedy with a real audience. The series ran for two seasons, with six episodes in both.

"His case is that the format of Shambles is an original dramatic work protected by copyright under ss.1(1)(a) and 3(1) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 ('CDPA 1988') and a work of its author's own intellectual creation. It also consists of several clearly identifiable features, which, taken together, distinguish it from other shows of a similar type.

"Baby Cow Productions (the Defendant) premiered a new series, Live At The Moth Club, on the television channel, Dave. Mr Rupert Majendie is the creator of the series and is also credited as the executive producer and director of each of its episodes. The series is a sitcom set in a comedy club in Hackney called The Moth Club. It blends situation comedy deriving from fictional behind-the-scenes material with real live comedy performances and features recurring characters played by well-known comic actors and comedians.

"Mr Majendie is an acquaintance of Mr Deansway and they have previously worked together in running a comedy night called Pitchcock and Bentshoe around 2008 and in acting as the booker for a comedy night called The Fix Presents that Mr Deansway promoted in 2009. Mr Majendie also visited Shambles venue and did some filming there with the comedian Nick Helms [sic] in 2014."

Shambles. Harry (Harry Deansway)

Baby Cow Productions was co-founded by Steve Coogan. Via the press release announcing the legal action, Harry Deansway said: "It is extremely disappointing that Baby Cow should have copied my original work like this without so much as an acknowledgement. I'm a big fan of Steve Coogan, but I can't help wondering how he would have felt if someone had copied one of his early characters when he was just starting out and then tried to allege that this was perfectly legal."

British Comedy Guide approached Baby Cow, however Baby Cow's and UKTV's policy is not to comment on legal matters.

Live From The Moth Club can be watched via UKTV Play

Meanwhile Series 1 of Shambles is available via YouTube (Watch via BCG). The first episode is embedded below. Series 2 is no longer online, with Keystone Law informing British Comedy Guide: "The reason season two is not [online] is because Mr Deansway is in the process of negotiating a distribution deal."

21st June update: Series 2 has now been re-uploaded to YouTube (Watch).

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