THE BBC may frequently plead poverty – but they have been trying to be very generous to bemused songwriter Neil Fitzpatrick.

For the last 20 years they have been sending him royalty cheques for a TV show that was actually made five years before the 41-year-old was born.

The cheques, which have totalled more than £1,000 over the years, relate to his apparent acting role in Sherlock Holmes and the Blue Carbuncle, an episode of a series featuring Peter Cushing that was aired in 1968.

But although Neil, who lives in Scarborough, did appear on a BBC Welsh language radio programme in 1995, he had no connection with the Holmes show.

Neil has never cashed any of the cheques and, for the first few years, would simply send them back with a letter explaining the situation. The last arrived in October last year.

"For some reason, the BBC took no notice of my many polite letters informing them that the real Neil Fitzpatrick was in fact an Australian actor, 39 years my senior,” he said.

“So in the end I simply laughed each time a cheque arrived and threw it in the bin.”

In response to an email Neil sent earlier this year the BBC told him it was looking into the matter - however the broadcaster has so far failed to respond to The Northern Echo’s request for a comment.

The Aussie Neil was well-known and respected in theatre and TV and worked with the National Theatre Company in a number of productions. He died in 2005, aged 71.

“Whilst the story of the mix-up is quite funny, the sad irony is that my Australian namesake died of cancer; an illness that has caused much sadness and devastation for my own family,” said Neil.

“Over the last few years I've lost my mother-in-law, my dad, a friend and countless others to cancer.”

Following his father's death, just two days after Christmas in 2013, Neil wrote and released a song called 'Apart' and has since raised almost £13,000 for Cancer Research UK.

The ballad won the prestigious 2014 UK International Songwriting Contest, and was hailed by Sir Alan Ayckbourn as "a fine song, beautifully executed and performed.”

It is still raising money for the charity and to help reach his £25,000 target Neil has also organised the first Apart Black Tie Charity Ball, which will be held on October 2 at the Crown Spa Hotel in Scarborough.

Apart is on sale for £5 at or at and all proceeds go to Cancer Research UK.

To be added to the reserve guestlist for the sold-out ball post a message on the Facebook site.