Is The Estate just a rip off?

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MEDIA reports have claimed that The Estate, is a blatant rip off of the Scottish documentary ‘The Scheme’.

While the controversial BBC Scotland hit followed families living in the tough Onthank scheme in Kilmarnock, the BBC Northern Ireland version charts the lives of residents in Coleraine’s Ballysally estate.

Some newspapers have claimed that the makers of The Estate followed the same format as the hard-hitting, real-life Scottish documentary.

The Scheme made stars of a junkie called Marvin and his dog Bullet while the Coleraine programme features alcoholic Martin and pet Bobby.

The first episode of The Estate screened last Monday — in a late-night slot just like The Scheme.

The piano-led soundtrack, moody, atmospheric camera shots and the narration style seem virtually identical to The Scheme’s.

Certainly the families featured on The Estate do resemble those in Onthank.

Marvin and Bullet became overnight sensations when The Scheme first aired, with fans setting up Facebook pages and web tributes to them.

But if Martin is hoping to enjoy similar fame, he should know it comes at a cost.

Since Marvin became a ‘star’ he’s been in and out of trouble and is currently in jail serving 17 months for stealing mail from a postbox.

But Martin and Bobby are not the only Scheme doppelgangers.

The local documentary features unemployed Louise and her children - including school-hating teenager Kelly Anne - very much mirroring The Scheme’s chain-smoking Kay McCutcheon and her house full of unruly, young scallywags.

And just like Onthank’s kind-hearted gardeners Harry and Betty Cassidy, The Estate has an amiable couple in Jimmy and Denise.

Despite the similarities, the Glasgow-based production company which made The Scheme — Friel Kean Films — insist they have nothing to do with the new BBC NI show.

The Scheme producer Michelle Friel claimed imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

She said: “It’s nothing to do with our company. We knew about it but these things happen, it’s fine.”