Bruce Forsyth is “clearly an artist”; Anne Robinson is “probably theatrical” and daytime television couple Richard and Judy are “entertainers”.
Such pronouncements are not mere reviews, they are the official adjudications of a special tax commissioner.
Artistic merit does not normally count for much in the rarified world of the special tax commissioner, but on Friday it was absolutely crucial to the outcome of a landmark case which saw husband and wife team Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan pursuing the Customs and Revenue for a six-figure tax rebate.
The decision that the couple were officially jolly entertaining was doubly good news for them. For, in addition to the undoubtably welcome approbation of special commissioner Howard Nowlan, the verdict meant they were entitled to offset the cost of their agent against their tax bill – a decision which is thought to have saved them up to £500,000. The couple had gone to the Special Commissioner after HM Revenue & Customs had knocked back their claim for tax deductions for fees paid to their agent while they hosted This Morning in the 1990s.
The Revenue contended that the married couple could not qualify for the tax deductions, because they were not considered “entertainers”.
The outcome was considered to have wide implications for the entertainment industry – and conceivably for sports stars, many of whom could claim tens of thousand of pounds of tax relief.
In what must rank as one of the stranger moments in the annals of tax history, Mr Nowlan published a 29-page ruling, a large chunk of which was devoted not only to reviews of their work but also pronounced on the theatricality of TV performers who had nothing to do with the case.
Bruce Forsyth, Ant and Dec, Anne Robinson and Richard and Judy made the grade as entertainers but the somewhat theatrical Jeremy Paxman will have to go through life knowing that – at least for tax purposes – he is “not a theatrical artist”.
In reaching his decision on Richard and Judy, Mr Nowlan watched hours of their work, including tapes supplied by Revenue officials in support of its case.
The commissioner was taken with Mr Madeley’s air guitar playing and Miss Finnigan’s cross-dressing.
But he was particularly delighted by a video showing the couple in bed, with Richard irritating Judy by pretending to be Chris Tarrant, from Who wants to be a Millionaire.
The ruling noted: “Riddled with lines such as whether ‘marmalade’ is her final answer, and with the proposition that he will give her one piece of toast but would really prefer to give her two, the skit is again very funny.”