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New BBC drama hit by rights row

Published 08/04/2011

Maxine Peake stars in the new drama Room At The Top
Maxine Peake stars in the new drama Room At The Top

A rights row prompted the BBC to pull its dramatisation of classic 1950s novel Room At The Top at the last moment.

The adaptation, starring Silk's Maxine Peake, was due to be screened on BBC4 last night.

But cautious BBC bosses put the broadcast on ice while they look into a potential dispute over the screen rights.

A BBC spokesman said: "Transmission of Room At The Top has been postponed while we address a potential contractual issue which has emerged in the last few days."

Based on the acclaimed 1957 novel by John Braine, Room At The Top stars Matthew McNulty as Joe Lampton, a ruthlessly ambitious, working-class Yorkshireman, who will do anything to climb the social ladder.

Braine died in 1986 and his widow, Pat, 79, who receives royalties from his works, gave her approval for the BBC adaptation.

Instead of airing the first episode of the sexually charged two-part drama last night, BBC4 showed a repeat of erotic costume drama Fanny Hill in the advertised time slot.

The book was previously adapted into a film in 1959 for which Simone Signoret won an Oscar for her performance as Alice, the married woman who seduces Lampton.

Thames Television made a TV series Man At The Top, which revolved around Lampton's exploits that led to a spin-off film.

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