Lottery liar' scoop buys Boyle TV deal

A piece that started off as a good human interest news story for freelance journalist Sheron Boyle turned into a lucrative TV deal.

ITV's film Can't Buy Me Love , screened on Monday night, told the true story of Howard Walmsley, a Doncaster decorator who lied to his wife that he had won £8.9m on the Lottery to stop her leaving him.

Martin Kemp and Michelle Collins starred in the film which was written by EastEnders writer Tony Jordan.

Yorkshire-based Boyle said: "I did the feature for the Sunday Mirror, but realised this story was so fantastic that it had further potential.

"Walmsley, dubbed the Lottery Liar, spun out his con for months by using money the banks were falling over themselves to loan him while his supposed win was sorted out.

"Luxury garages were almost begging him to take one of their cars, stores, estate agents were all wanting his business.

"Then you got family and friends who were also spending the Walmsleys' alleged fortune. It's interesting to see how sudden wealth affects all those round the winners, except the Walmsleys weren't winners and Howard's fraudulent efforts to maintain the myth meant his number was up when the police came knocking on his door at 6am one morning.

"He was jailed for three years in 2001, but is now free. However, his scam worked and Kathy stuck by her lovelorn liar of a husband. It's one of the best stories I've worked on."

Boyle negotiated an ITV documentary about the couple which has since been sold around the world. And, working with literary agent Robert Smith, she negotiated the TV film deal with Hewland International.

She said: "I took Tony Jordan to see Howard in jail, where at one point he was serving time with Lord Archer.

Tony really has caught the couple's bittersweet love story in the best light possible.

"Writing features is still my main job but the agency work is an interesting sideline- though I don't think I'll be changing my name to Maxine Clifford just yet."

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