Why are the arts always the biggest bludgers?

Not content with mopping up all Roald Dahl?s royalties, his family now want others to pay for his shed improvement. This should come as no surprise to anyone, the arts lobby vie with farmers for the biggest bunch of bludgers the world over.

Dahl wrote his famous children?s stories in the 6ft x 7ft hut situated at the bottom of his orchard in Great Missenden, Bucks. It has now fallen into disrepair and the family hope to move it, piece by piece, to a museum around the corner where it will be restored for public display.

Publicising the campaign with an appearance on BBC Radio 4?s Today programme, the author?s granddaughter, Sophie Dahl, said the money was desperately needed.

?It?s in a bit of a state, poor little hut. It needs help. We are trying to raise half a million pounds, which sounds like a great deal of money to move the interior of a little hut but it?s quite a process,? she said.

The appeal was aired on the annual Roald Dahl Day but immediately backfired. The BBC was deluged with complaints from listeners who asked why the cost could not be met by the family and the proceeds of the author?s estate, which receives millions each year from book and film royalties.

Many listeners asked why Miss Dahl, a successful model, writer and BBC cookery presenter, could not fund the project herself. She is a millionairess in her own right and is married to Jamie Cullum, the jazz musician with an estimated personal fortune of ?5 million.

The estate is even wealthier:

Twenty-one years after his death, Dahl remains one of the world?s most succesful children?s authors. Over 100 million copies of his books have been sold in 49 languages.

The estate is run by Dahl?s widow, Liccy. In addition to book sales and merchandising, it receives royalties from film and theatre adaptations including the 2005 Hollywood version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp, which made ?300 million at the box office.