The writers of vaguely car based sitcom Top Gear have furiously denied stealing their ideas from Roy Clarke's Last of the Summer Wine.
"Our show features three old gits, at odds with the modern world, who react to their powerlessness by retreating into a second childhood. How on earth is that similar to Last of the Summer Wine?" said a Top Gear insider.
Clarke is not impressed. "The old reactionary gits all fantasise about unrequited love for a fantasy figure. In Top Gear he's called The Stig. In LOTSW it's Nora Batty. Put the Stig in a housecoat and a pair of wrinkled stockings, and you've got Nora."
In an early episode of Summer Wine, Comp, Clegg and Foggy all describe Nora. "Some say she's got wrinkled stockings," says Compo. "Some say she's going to appear as a Chorus Girl in the final episode," said Clegg.
"And some said he's going to be a prototype for the Stig in a shitty BBC rip off in decades to come," said Roy Clarke.
The theft of his situation and characters was bad enough, said Clarke. But what really hurt was the wholesale lifting of his trademark set piece knockabout finales, when Compo or Clegg or Foggy would invariably career down a hill in a bath on wheels or float off in an improbably out of control balloon that drifts into airport space.
"All those pathetic stunts they do, and the contrived incidents and crashes. I find them as nauseating as the next man. In fact, more nauseating, because those are my ideas. If that wasn't insulting enough, they've stolen all my storylines and passed them off as their own."
Top Gear characters Clarkie, Poshie and Shrimp were unavailable for comment.