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Intellectual property: Doctor Who script-writer heir could sue BBC

The son of the author of the first ever Doctor Who television script has threatened to sue the BBC over use of the 'Tardis' time machine.

Stef Coburn, son of script writer Tony Coburn, is claiming that the BBC does not own the intellectual property rights to allow it to use the legendary 'Tardis' machine that Doctor Who uses to travel through time and space in the hit television programme.

Mr Coburn's father wrote the first ever television script for Doctor Who back in 1963, an episode called 'An Unearthly Child'.

The name Tardis, stands for Time And Relative Distance In Space, and was a creation of Mr Coburn's.

Although undergoing a variety of makeovers during the past 50 years, the basic premise of the machine remains the same and is at the heart of the story of Doctor Who.

Lawyers representing Mr Coburn are purportedly threatening the BBC with legal action unless it agrees to pay compensation to Mr Coburn's son for every time the Tardis has appeared on the BBC's screens since the death of Mr Coburn back in 1997.

In an interview with The Independent, Mr Coburn said: "It is by no means my wish to deprive legions of Doctor Who fans (of whom I was never one) of any aspect of their favourite children's TV programme."

He went on to say that his sole aim was gaining recompense to the estate of his father for the use of his 'seminal' contribution to the series.

A spokesman for the BBC told the Independent that the 'Tardis' was registered as a trademark of the Corporation in the 1980's and that the registration has had no challenges since then.