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BBC's new series "The Ministry of Time" faces allegations of plagiarising Spanish drama

BBC's new series "The Ministry of Time" faces allegations of plagiarising Spanish drama

RTVE, the Spanish state broadcaster, is set to demand "explanations" from the BBC, its UK counterpart, following allegations of plagiarism surrounding a newly announced British television series.

The unveiling of the BBC's latest project, "The Ministry of Time," described as a "new" and "utterly unique" series, was met with immediate controversy as it bore striking resemblances to an existing Spanish TV show.

Absent from the BBC's announcement was any acknowledgment of the Spanish TV drama, "El Ministerio del Tiempo",which aired from 2015 to 2019 and shares both its title and plot elements.

Instead, the British broadcaster attributed its inspiration to an unpublished novel by British-Cambodian writer Kaliane Bradley, set for release on 14 May.

What are the similarities between the shows?

The BBC sign is seen outside the entrance of the headquarters of the publicly funded media organization, July 19, 2017, in London.
The BBC sign is seen outside the entrance of the headquarters of the publicly funded media organization, July 19, 2017, in London. - Credit: Frank Augstein/AP

The two shows share the exact same title as well as strikingly similar plot elements.

The BBC's series is said to "follow a newly established government department, The Ministry of Time, which gathers "ex-pats" from across history to experiment how viable time travel would actually be."

In comparison the Spanish series "follows the exploits of a secret investigative team in the fictional Ministry of Time, which deals with incidents caused by time travel that can cause changes to the present day."

This isn't the first time "El Ministerio del Tiempo" has been involved in a copyright dispute.

Onza Partners, the production company behind the series, previously sued American broadcaster CBS over their 2016 production "Timeless" for allegedly “ripping off” their show. The ordeal resulted in a dismissal agreement in May 2017.

What has been the response to claims of BBC's plagiarism?

The similarities between the BBC's proposed series and "El Ministerio del Tiempo" have not gone unnoticed, with many fans of the Spanish show expressing their outrage on social media.

The co-creator of the Spanish show, Javier Olivares, took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to share his perspective on the controversy.

He remarked, "It is becoming clearer to me that someone has scored a goal - and an own goal - against the BBC." He expressed surprise at the BBC's apparent ignorance of his series, noting its availability on Netflix UK and the attention it gained from international media outlets like Variety.

Olivares also highlighted that a simple Google search for "Ministry of Time" would reveal the Spanish series, indicating that the BBC should have been aware of its existence.

In response to the controversy, Kaliane Bradley, the author of the book from which the BBC claims the series is adapted, states: "My literary debut, "The Ministry of Time", which is published this May, is an original work of fiction. I have never seen the Spanish series and the identical titles are an unfortunate coincidence."

The BBC has yet to publicly address the controversy.