Sunday 18 August 2019

John Lewis defends Christmas advert over claims by author Chris Riddell

The retailer said the story of a “big hairy monster under the bed” was a “universal tale”.

Chris Riddell
Chris Riddell

By Sherna Noah, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Author and former children’s laureate Chris Riddell has accused John Lewis of “helping themselves” to his picture book for its Christmas advert.

The department store unveiled its hotly-anticipated TV campaign last week, featuring a boy who befriends a monster which is snoring under his bed.

Riddell, who is also a political cartoonist, posted a video on Twitter combining the John Lewis ad with pages from his picture book Mr Underbed.

“John Lewis helps themselves to my picture book,” he wrote.

The author added: “In this age of shrinking publicity budgets it is very generous of John Lewis to devote their Christmas advertising campaign to my 1986 picture book.”

He told The Guardian: “The idea of a monster under the bed is by no means new but the ad does seem to bear a close resemblance to my creation… I was struck by the similarity of the concept.”

Retailer John Lewis said in a statement that the “main thrust” of its story was “utterly different” to Riddell’s.

“The story of a big hairy monster under the bed which keeps a child from sleeping is a universal tale which has been told many times over many years,” it said.

“Ours is a Christmas story of friendship and fun between Joe and Moz The Monster, in which Joe receives a night light which helps him get a good night’s sleep. The main thrust of our story is utterly different to Chris Riddell’s.”

In 2014, John Lewis dismissed claims from some viewers that its advert, about a boy and his penguin sidekick, was similar to the picture book Lost And Found by Oliver Jeffers.

“As an animal which lives in wintry climes, stories about penguins at Christmas time are not new, and the story in our advert is totally unique,” it said.

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