The Contradictions and Untruths in Sky's Letter of Denial
and a Timeline which Supports my Claim:
a 15-minute read supported with mini-video clips.
KEY UPDATE: 17/06/2020
Following a number of requests, please find a link to a screenshot of Sky's main response to my Cease and Desist letter, below. I kindly ask that this is not republished, in whole or part, without my express written permission, but do feel free to share this page.
Their written letter contains a detailed timeline of the writing of their show, which I have been analysing in some detail over the last few months, alongside writing and teaching.
I have provided evidence, both in my latest video and in the following open statement, in the form of short video snippets of interviews and screenshots from articles and letters, both from Sky, itself, and James Richardson - the 'creator/producer' at the heart of this matter (alongside a couple of others). All are available online from different sources that I've linked and referenced, (at the time of publishing this update, at least).
When compared wto the version of events that is revealed from the time of the show's launch, Sky's letter can be found to contain a number of major contradictions and what seem to be blatant mistruths about the show's creation: they have said one thing to me in 2020 and something entirely different to the general public in 2016-18.
I believe this would allow one to describe their response as misleading, if not deceitful. It is certainly not the behaviour of a company that prides itself on always doing the right thing.
The question I ask is why would they be so deceiftul?
Feel free to decide for yourself on the answer.
The main part of their letter of denial that raises the issues, can be found in the following section.
I've listed the problems I've discovered with it, and provide conflicting evidence for each of the points they are saying, below (provided, primarily by Sky and Mr Richardson himself in interviews and press coverage):
Sky say Mr Richardson first approached them in 2011 with an idea for a show (line 3 of the above background)
Conflicting evidence: Mr Richardson says the following in an interview with Televisual (trade magazine) published in December 2017:
©Televisual Media UK Limited (2017)
SUMMARY: 2017 minus 4 years = 2013 (which would mean Richardson came up with the idea two years later than Sky said he did in their letter).
The dates conflict.
B) ORIGINAL IDEA
Sky say the idea Richardson initially approached them with in 2011 was specifically for 'a television series' (line 1):
Conflicting evidence: In interviews, Richardson has said his initial idea was to do a film about Boudicca. The first quote is from Televisual (as above); the second from Sky's Initial Press Pack (downloadable here - they've recently taken it off their site):
©Televisual Media UK Limited (2017)
©SKY (UK) Ltd (2018)
SUMMARY: This becomes more relevant later on, which is why I've made a note of it.
C) THE PITCH AND DEVELOPMENT OF IDEA
Sky say Richardson officially pitched them with his idea for the show in March 2012 (line 4):
And then came up with a detailed proposal for the show later that month (line 7):
They add that more work was done to the project before it went into paid development in 2013.
They do not mention the Butterworths' involvement once at this stage.
Conflicting Evidence: In interviews, such as this (1m50s), Richardson's account of how the show was developed totally contradicts what Sky have said:
He does not mention developing the project with Sky or with any other writers, at this stage, other than Jez (and later Tom)
According to the above, he borrowed a book from (his former brother-law) Jez and then developed the project with him. It's implied this happened at an early stage in the show's development.
Summary: Richardson's and Sky's accounts as to how the show was created and by whom (and when), are totally different at this stage.
D) PAID DEVELOPMENT AND WRITING OF A TREATMENT
Sky have stated that when the project entered paid development, they employed another writer to come up with a treatment, for them, Terry Cafolla (lines 7 to 9):
Conflicting evidence: As has been established in point C, Richardson does not refer to Cafolla - or Sky - in the development process of the show, at least not in any of the interviews that I've seen with him, from around the time it launched. He does, however, take the credit for himself.
Here he his is talking about the creation of the show's story in another interview (1m11s), in more detail:
He fails to mention Cafolla, once again.
And when he talks about when the show is written, he clearly references the inspiration they took from the actors (naming that as he does so, meaning they already had to have been cast at the writing stage).
Although, in his written denial to me, Richardson does mention that Cafolla was a co-creator of the show (in the snippet below), in no way does he suggest that he played a major role in the creation of Britannia, or in the writing process of any of its episodes:
SUMMARY: Sky have said Cafolla was employed by them to write Britannia's treatment; Richardson says the show was developed by him and the Butterworths, independently, when the show was being written and does not mention Cafolla's role or his treatment (to the public, at least, even though a couple of years later he does acknowledge him as a co-creator to me in his letter).
His story has therefore changed.
There is also no mention of Cafolla's treatment at all in any of the interviews or press packs at the time of the show's launch, from Sky, either (see Ann Mensah's interview, for supporting evidence of this statement below - she only mentions Jez and Tom Butterworth and how talented they are).
Sky's story has therefore changed, as well.
I can therefore say with surety that both Sky's and Richardson's accounts of the development of Britannia conflict with each other, and that both of them have changed their stories, at different times (!) and when addressing different audiences.
E) COMPLETION OF THE TREATMENT
Sky say Cafolla wrote the initial treatment in September 2013 and then finished the final treatment 'in November 2013' (lines 9 & 10):
The completion of the show's final treament is a crucial stage in any show's development, as can be seen in this definition from Wikipedia for those not familar with the term, the scriptwriting process and/or its terminology:
©MERRIAM-WEBSTER, INC. (2020)
The use of the words 'the final' to describe the treatment Cafolla produced for them, in November 2013, is categorically an implication from Sky that a finalised story outline for Britannia had been completed by Cafolla at that stage.
Conflicting Evidence: In an old Britannia Twitter account you can clearly see that the writing of the show's final treatment and storylining can't have been completed in November 2013, as Sky have suggested. This is because in January 2015 (13 months later), Terry Cafolla can still be seen clearly writing it:
©TWITTER, INC./@BRITANNIATV (2015)
And note the quote 'a great story waits to be told' and the date of the following Tweet, and the very specific use of the word storylining (which is what the final treatment should have contained):
©TWITTER, INC./@BRITANNIATV (2015)
Furthermore, one of the show's lead actors clearly states that the first season of the show was still actually being written, as they went along, which was in the summer and winter of 2016 (0m12s):
And Richardson himself confirms the lack of source material (0m28s):
And note I came up with my own treatment in November of 2014:
Summary: Sky's statement, that 'the show's final treatment' was written by Cafolla in 2013 can not be correct, when the storyling of Cafolla's version of the show was still taking place in 2015.
However, the interviews above demonstrate that the storyling was still taking place during production of the show's first season. This is a clear demonstration that Cafolla's final treatment for Britannia wasn't what the show was substantially based up on, whenever he actually wrote it.
As has already been establihed, Sky have implied the exact opposite in their letter of denial to me, and that the Butterworth's provided an unstated level of 'further input' into what Cafolla had already written.
Note, my own final treatment was written before the Tweeted photo, above, and well before their show started filming (by which time Tribus already received some noteable critical acclaim from within the university, which Hyland was aware of).
F) WRITING AND COMPLETION OF SCRIPTS
Sky say Cafolla completed a first draft of his script in June 2014 (lines 10&11):
And then a 'honed' and 'final' draft in April 2014 (lines 11-12):
Conflicting evidence: Sky are implying in their letter that Cafolla's final draft script is what the first episode of Britannia was substantially based upon. The use of the word 'honed' is an irrefutable indication of this. Yet, Terry Cafolla hasn't received a credit for writing Britannia's all important first episode, at all:
©SKY (UK) Ltd (2018)
Given that he was not mentioned during any of the interviews as having had a substantial role in its creation, I can only presume that what Sky have said was his final honed draft, was not the final honed draft of the episode that they went on to film and broadcast. The same story as with the treatment. Remember what Lie Kass says, above: at the beginning the story was rushed.
It can also be said with certainty that the Butterworth's wrote a new script, after they were 'brought in' by Sky to provide 'further input in their show'. And that this was at a very late stage in Britannia's development. Note the comments 'I didn't even know he was a writer at that stage' and 'a month or so later a new script came out', again from Lie Kaas, in the same interview below (0m42s):
This categorically ties in to what Sky said at the time the show was launched (that the Butterworths pretty much wrote the whole show, starting just after my own body of work was completed).
This categorically ties in to what Sky said at the time the show was launched (that the Butterworths pretty much wrote the whole show, starting just after my own body of work was completed). To take away any abmiguity, this is what Sky have written in their own press pack at the time of launch:
And it ties in to Richardson's account of developing the show over some late nights with Jez and Tom B (when he's sat in front of an audience, at least).
Of vital importance, is the fact I wrote and submitted my own first and final draft scripts, prior to Cafolla's, and prior to what looks like the Butterworth's sudden involvement.
Summary: Sky's suggestion, that Cafolla's honed script was the one that Britannia's first episode was substantially based on is seemingly untrue. His total lack of a writer's credit and verbal acknowledgement from Sky and Richardson is testimony to the fact.
And due to the fact that my scripts were completed before any of Britannia's final drafts were (i.e. before both Cafolla's and the Butterworth's), my work is the first to fall under the protection of UK Copyright Law.
G) THE BUTTERWORTH'S INVOLVEMENT
Sky say that the Butterworth brothers came on-board to provide 'further input' into episodes one and two in April, 2014 - weeks after I'd finished my own final script (lines 12 and 13):
Their letter does not acknowledge the Butterworths as being the creators and writers of the show. Rather, the overall tone and the referencing of specific documents that Cafolla created, implies that they were brought in to polish up a 'honed' and 'final' body of work that had already been submitted to them by Mr Cafolla.
It does not mention when the Butterworths actually wrote their final script (which of course had to have happened after my own).
Conflicting evidence: The Butterworths aren't just given full accrediation for providing 'further input into Ep1 and Ep2'. They are accredited both with writing that first episode entirely, and as being the people who created the entire show, alongside Richardson, of course:
©SKY (UK) Ltd (2018)
The Butterworths were lauded by all those connected to the show at the time of its launch and sale.
Cafolla is not given a solitary mention (so it seems).
This, from Ann Mensah (current Head of Netflix, UK), who was Sky's Head of Drama when Britannia was commissioned, describes the level of the Butterworths' involvement (0m56s):
It's emphatic. I do not belive that Ms Mensah is lying here. The Butterworths wrote the majority of what was seen in Britannia, not Cafolla.
The question is where did they get those original ideas in April 2016, that were discussed over bottles of wine, late at night (0m15s)?
In 2018, Jez Butterworth himself said that he was working with James for two years on the project, dating his involvement from 2016. This from an interview referenced by Drama Quarterly:
Sky have said the same thing, categorically and at numerous times: Jez and Tom came on board in April of that year.
So, was this the moment when Richardson approached him with 'his' idea - just after my script had been completed?
"I know what to do here, leave it to me. And he did", says Richardson about the Butterworth's creation of the show...
Summary: What Sky have said in their letter to me, in 2020, about the Butterworth's involvement (that it was, for all intents and purposes, quite minimal early on), completely contradicts what they said to the public in 2018, when the Butterworths are given their full praise for its creation and development, alongside a mention of Richardson. Back then they did not mention Cafolla at all.
Sky are, therefore, saying different things at different times, about the Butterworths level of involvement in the creation of their show. Why?
Richardson himself states (as seen in video above) that he went to Jez Butterworths with the idea, who immediately got it, and that he developed it with them. Again, not even a nod towards Cafolla's work. And different to what Sky have said in their letter.
Both Sky and Jez acknowledge that he and Tom only came on board in 2016. Yet Richardson states (as noted in point C above) that he went to Jez with the idea around the time of its conception - after the idea about the Boudicca film - which was in 2011 or before. That's five years - a pretty big difference.
It is entirely conceivable that Richardson went to the Butterworths with a new idea for the show entirely (hence Cafolla's emmission from the credits as its creator) and that the Butterworths wrote a new script, just after my own script had been written.
Anne Mensah's comments totally contradict what Sky have written to me in their letter.
A comparison of the timelines show that at each stage my work was completed before Cafolla's, with the exception of the final treatment:
©PREZI, INC. (2020)
However, as is mentioned above, what Sky have said was Cafolla's final treatment (written in 2013) can't have been the show's final treatment at all.
And when you look at the timeline at what happened in Britannia's development, the month after I'd submitted my own final script, you can see that it doevetails neatly into my own.
©PREZI, INC. (2020)
I completed my script. Then Cafolla completed his. And then Cafolla suddenly seems to have disappeared from the development of Britannia and the Butterworths are brought in to write a new one.
And remember, only the Butterworths have been given the credit for actually writing episode one of Britannia. If Cafolla had done so, and not been given the credits, it would seem very odd, to say the least.
Summary: Irrespective of who came up with the idea first, or when, it is the execution of that idea in a tanglible form that is important when it comes to copyright law and the protection of ones original ideas/IP.
Quite clearly, Sky have provided a timeline of events that proves my final script was completed before Britannia's. In fact, it was completed right before the Butterworths were brought in by Sky to write the first episode of their show. Another co-incidence in this case?
I) DENIAL THAT RICHARDSON KNOWS HYLAND
Sky have made a number of statements in defence of James Richardson in their denial. That he never read my script and doesn't know the only person to have had access to my work, or said they would help me market it, Karen Hyland:
©MATCH GROUP, INC. (2020)
They have denied that it's him in the photograph with her (above) and say that they can provide witnesses that will say the same thing.
Conflicting evidence: In spite of the fact that the pictures of Richardson (taken by Sky New Zealand) that I've used to compare him to the man in the photo (below), were taken years before the one with Hyland(and that they have different tans and postures, etc.) two different facial recognition apps both indicate that they are one and the same man:
©BETAFACE, INC. (2020)
Whose software is used by the following:
A close inspection of a morphed image of the pair, clearly indicates - to these human eyes, at least - that it's one and the same person:
And perhaps even more importantly (?), I've had two independent eye witnesses, who know James Richardson in a professional capacity, both tell me they think it's him in the picture. One notes:
Just as importantly, and to put a stop to any attempt to throw the baby out with the bathwater here, even if it was some miraculous coincidence that it's not Richardson in the photo with Hyland, don't forget I had told a number of people and authorities about their connection prior to discovering the photo in the first place. Something again, which I can provide irrefutable academic evidence of.
Put yourselves in my shoes and ask yourself how incredible it would be, given all the other connections and similarities connected to this matter, if Karen Hyland, having told me she knew Richardson, then appeared in a photo with his exact double. I mean, come on...
It's already been established that someone at Vertigo films clearly seems friendly with her brother, Ian:
©TWITTER, INC (2018)
Summary: Sky cannot possibly state with certainty who any of its coutless partners and suppliers are acquainted with, irrespective of what they're told and by whom.
The photograph, which technology and independent eye-witnesses both indicate to be Richardson, together with Karen Hyland, arm-in-arm, says it all.
And even if it is his exact double, a twin or a clone, in the photo, it doesn't take away from the fact that Hyland had told me specifically that she'd wanted to give him a copy of my work long before I found that picture.
Futhermore, a little common sense should be applied here, too.
There's a very small pool of people at the top of the UK entertainment industry, in particular in terms of tabloid journalists who've made a career specifically writing about television dramas and indepedent films, for tabloid newspapers. Naturally, critics and writers like the Hylands are very important to producers and drama departments. They help shape public opinion. And vice versa.
Seen through this context, to suggest that Richardson doesn't know Karen Hyland seems absurd, especially given the fact that he must know who her brother Ian is.
J) IMPOSSIBLE TO CLARIFY STATEMENTS MADE ON BEHALF OF RICHARDSON
Sky have also made a number of statements in defence of James Richardson in their denial:
Conficting evidence: common sense.
Summary: Sky cannot possibly make these statements with any degree of certainty.
I understand people there - at the top of the drama dept - have known and worked closely with Richardson, for a number of years, and on a project that's worth an awful lot to everybody involved (both in terms of money and reputation).
But nobody close to Richardson could possibly know every person he has spoken to. Or what he has or hasn't read.
It's absurd that Sky should be saying such things on his behalf. I have my own ideas as to why they are, though...
You can draw your own conclusion based on the above statements and facts. But do keep in mind the academic support I've had on this, from truly authorativie (sic) writers.
All I've done, afterall, is copy and paste screenshots afrom Sky's letter of denial, and compared what they've written in 2020 to interviews and statements that are readily available for anybody to see and read on the internet from 2016-2018 (I've backed-up copies of everything in case they get removed from source, so you'll still be able to find them here/elsewhere).
And, having done that, I've written a summary underneath each of the issues I've found in red.
It allows me to make such statements as:
'Both Sky's and Richardson's accounts of the development of Britannia conflict with each other, and that both of them have changed their stories, at different times (!) and when addressing different audiences';
'The part of Sky's denial, in which they have implied that Cafolla wrote the bulk of the show (i.e its final treatment and a honed version of the script for the first episode which was broadcast), is categorically untrue'
(as well as others, which have been used in the trailer to the video about this update).
When the overall tone and statements are looked at, as a whole, their reply can quite easily be perceived as being deceitful: The contradictions mean that either Sky have intentionally tried to deceive me as to how and when Britannia was created, and by whom, or they have decieved the general public (ergo its investors) about these things. Which is a highly important fact.
Sky were a PLC (they can't just lie), in the process of takeover negotiations at the time. Britannia was their biggest-ever show, in terms of budget, at the time of its launch. It was part of what was being sold to its investors. I believe it has to have been sold on a lie.
Given that Sky's timeline of events perfectly dovetail into my own, in terms of when the bodies of work were actually written and completed, I believe that what Sky have said to me in their emphatic denial, actually emphatically supports my claims in my case against them.
My total belief that my work was taken and used without my permission has only been strenghtened.
I continue to demand that the cease and desist notice I served on Sky, in January of this year, is adhered to, immediately and in full.
At least until such time as they give me the credits and fair remuneration for the unauthorised use of Tribus, my original creation, which both myself and now around 1,500 people are all in agreement would be 'the right thing to do'..
Thanks for reading,