BBC refuses Rosenthal's The Barmitzvah Boy release

Cyril Shaps and Jeremy Steyn as the eponymous barmitzvah boy in Jack Rosenthal’s iconic 1976 comedy film

Cyril Shaps and Jeremy Steyn as the eponymous barmitzvah boy in Jack Rosenthal’s iconic 1976 comedy film

Actress Maureen Lipman has said that the BBC will not produce DVDs of work by her late husband, playwright Jack Rosenthal, despite numerous requests and high demand.

Ms Lipman, 63, made the comments while speaking to a packed audience attending the screening of Mr Rosenthal’s 1976 television play, The Barmitzvah Boy, screened to mark the UK Jewish Film Festival’s barmitzvah year.

She said later that she receives dozens of letters from fans asking where they can find DVDs of his films and plays, and she has even leant out her own personal copies.

She added that the only copies she has are redundant video tapes, which are deteriorating.

Mr Rosenthal, who died in 2004, won Bafta awards for Barmitzvah Boy, as well as Spend, Spend, Spend and The Evacuees.

Despite writing to the BBC a number of times, Ms Lipman’s requests have been denied.

The actress said: “I’ve asked the BBC a number of times because I thought it would do well and people always ask me where they can see the plays and films.

“ITV has done a DVD so why not the BBC? Even my copy on video has crumbled.

“Jack was a great playwright and his plays should be out there.

“If I could do it myself I would, but I don’t have the rights. It won’t cost much and they’ve already got the plays.

“I don’t want to make money from it. I just want the films to be out there for all the people who write to me and ask about them.”

But a spokeswoman from BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, said that there was not enough demand to produce a DVD.

She said: “If a Jack Rosenthal DVD were to be published BBC Worldwide would need to acquire the rights to the footage from the BBC Archive.

“We are a commercial company and so would need to be sure that there was a market for this content before publishing a DVD for sale. We don’t automatically acquire the rights to every BBC programme.”

Meanwhile, Judy Ironside, director of the UK Jewish Film Festival, has announced plans to create a Jewish Film Fesitval in Japan.

The Japanese wife of a rabbi in Croatia has been “so inspired” by the UKJFF that she is organising an equivalent in Japan.

Sarah Prelevic, wife of Zagreb rabbi Luciano Prelevic, has begun plans to host a festival in Japan after attending the first Zagreb Jewish Film Festival in 2007, which was assisted by the UK team.

Ms Ironside said: “This is a very exciting prospect but at present we have only had the first invitation to ask us if we will assist with this festival.”

Organisers of the UK Jewish Film Festival, which ends on November 19, have said that two-thirds of its films have already sold out.

Ms Ironside added: “Our barmitzvah year is our best festival so far. We have increased our pre-sales enormously and many films are showing to sell-out capacity.

“This is a wonderful way to celebrate the ‘coming of age’ of the UK Jewish Film Festival and the programme of amazing films we are bringing to London audiences.” A national tour follows the London screenings.

Last updated: 4:04pm, November 16 2009