The estate of wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is preparing to sue multiple parties including the creators of The Simpsons for what they are saying is breach of copyright.
According to the Churchill Society newsletter, Mr Peregrine Churchill who oversees the Churchill Trust has instructed his solicitors to sue; Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons; Caroline Ahern and Craig Cash of The Royle Family fame and Messrs Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft who co-wrote 'Are you being served' and many more comedy writers both past and present.
It transpires that 'Winnie' was an avid writer of comedy and he would write down any ideas he had in a little school jotter, which he had on his person always. Churchill called the series of jotters his 'ickle book of quips and catchy turns of phrase' - there were reputed to be 6 in all. The PM was known by General Patton as the 'king of the one liners'. One insider suggests that the term 'catchphrase' was coined by Patton based upon the witticisms of Mr. Churchill, who would drink a bottle of Pol Roger Champagne a day.
The jotters went missing from the staff car that Patton had provided for Winston during the preparations for D-Day and only four were subsequently recovered. However one of the jotters was sold on ebay (US) one month ago to a representative of the Churchill Trust who acted surreptitiously on the Trust's behalf. The remaining jotter is still at large and it is this jotter that is said to contain Winston's funniest and best known quips such as 'My Arse!', 'D'oh!', 'I'm free!',
Winston is reputed to have used these three one-liners most and the US President Eleanor D. Roosevelt loved hearing them spoken time and again especially in the presence of Stalin. At Yalta Stalin said he wanted to keep Poland and Winnie shouted 'My Arse!', which caused Roosevelt to have an asthma attack after a fit of giggles. Stalin didn't see the funny side of Winston's camp cry of 'I'm Free!' in response to the Russian's boast of owning Europe. Again the US premier had to be given urgent medical treatment. Even Homer Simpson's famous wail, 'D'oh!' was first expressed by a frustrated Churchill when informed of the route of the British Expeditionary force by the Germans. Churchill recorded all his quips in the jotters later that day while writing his diary.
When asked his opinion of the rumours of Winston's secret humorous side the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said very soberly and equally as dourly,"Perhaps if I had drank a bottle of Champagne each morning I may have said some funny things too! He didn't have a wife to wake up to. Oh! hello darling..."
Meanwhile Groening was not available for comment. Caroline Ahern has referred the matter to her lawyers. It is unclear what action the others mentioned in the suit are taking but it is expected that the case will take many years to conclude. Unless the famous '6th jotter' is recovered the matter may never be resolved.
Peregrine Churchill said, "If [the jotter] is found and then proved to have been the basis for many of our much loved comedy characters' sayings then substantial compensation will be forthcoming,".