Artist ‘disgusted’ by appearance of her watercolour in ‘Broadchurch’ episode

An artist whose painting was featured in an episode of ‘Broadchurch’ is demanding £10,000 in compensation from the show’s producers.

Angela Hewitt from the Isle of Wight feels her “work has been abused” by Kudos, the makers of the ITV crime drama. Kudos did not seek Hewitt’s permission to feature her £125 watercolour of a cockerel as part of the set in a scene from the third series. The artwork appears onscreen for five seconds hanging on the wall in the home of rape suspect, Ed Burnett, played by Sir Lenny Henry. Although Burnett was eventually found not guilty, Hewitt believes the appearance of her work could damage her reputation as it has become “associated with a show about rape”. 

Lawyers for Hewitt have written to Kudos to ask for compensation for “retrospective licence fee, damages for copyright infringement, flagrant damages for infringement and damages for breach of moral rights”. They argue the cockerel image was exploited to convey a symbolic message as it is “connotative of the character whose home it is in, this being someone who is a stalker and suspected rapist”. Associating Hewitt’s work with rape and stalking is “undoubtedly a derogatory treatment of the work”, which is said to breach her moral rights.

Kudos has accused Hewitt of opportunism and claims protection under section 31 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This section provides that there is no copyright infringement when a work is incidentally included in an artistic work, sound recording or film. Wight remains adamant that Kudos ought to have sought her permission to use her watercolour on set. “They had no right to use it. They could have easily found me. If they had told me the context of the programme, I would have said, ‘Absolutely not!'” Wight stated.

Wight refused an offer of £1,500 from Kudos in exchange for signing a confidentiality agreement and will continue to fight for more.

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