Walsh-Smith, who penned the play Bonkers in 1987, claims that Wainwright appropriated her idea for the ITV1 series, which was also titled "Bonkers." That series, which starred Liza Tarbuck, was co-produced by Sparkhouse Productions and Lime Pictures. In a statement Walsh-Smith's lawyer said, "Following the broadcast of ITV1's pilot episode of its new comedy drama 'Bonkers,' Miss Walsh-Smith instructed us to act for her with regard to apparent breach of copyright. . . . Miss Walsh-Smith wrote the stage play Bonkers in 1987 and it was produced and toured outside London, appearing at various venues."
TV writer Wainwright has denied the claims. A Lime Pictures spokesperson added, "[We] refute entirely the claim that the TV series 'Bonkers' in any way breaches copyright in the play and we will be defending the claims vigorously."
Playwright Walsh-Smith said in a statement, "As I was playwright, producer and star of Bonkers I broke professional grounds, particularly at such a young age and caused a huge stir. I was the talk of the town and the Writers Guild. It would have been impossible for Wainwright to not hear about the play and me.
"If Bonkers can be stolen, who's to say that my other plays won't be? Episode one was basically my play but poorly written. Everything from the title and the premise to the storyline and the characterization was stolen from me. I am seriously considering suing for damages to my professional reputation as well as copyright infringements. Sally Wainwright really is bonkers to think she can get away with this."
Tricia Walsh-Smith is also the author of Addictions. Sally Wainwright has adapted such works as The Taming of the Shrew and Wuthering Heights.