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Spitting Image
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Spitting Image

Spitting Image was a satirical puppet-show that ran on Britain's ITV Network from 1984 to 1996.

Table of contents
1 Introduction
2 Voices
3 Writers
4 Producers
5 Similar shows elsewhere
6 External link

Introduction

As the title (a colloquial phrase meaning a person closely resembling another) suggests, the show was not afraid to offend its viewers, or its targets. The puppets, caricaturing public figures, were designed by the cartoonists Peter Fluck and Roger Law (who sometimes spoonerized their names as 'Luck and Flaw'). They were assisted by various young caricaturists including David Stoten, Steve Bendelack, Tim Watts, Pablo Bach and Oscar da Costa and virtually every successful British impressionist of the time. Musical parodies were provided by Philip Pope (former member of Who Dares Wins and the Hee Bee Gee Bees team) and later Steve Brown (Glen Ponder in Knowing Me, Knowing You).

The stars of the show, though, were the latex puppets. Centre stage (as only to be expected from a topical satire show) were the politicians, in particular Mrs. Thatcher, who was portrayed as a bullying, fascist, bald male tyrant, and Ronald Reagan (a bumbling, nuke-obsessed fool with a (literally) missing brain). Providing admirable support were Bovver boy Norman Tebbit, bland-as-sand Geoffrey Howe, raving loony Michael Heseltine, scandalous Cecil Parkinson, Leon Brittan, Nigel Lawson, Norman Fowler, Douglas Hurd (he of the Mr. Whippy hair-do), slug-like Kenneth Baker and, on the other side of the House, the verbally unstoppable Neil Kinnock and the actually spitting Roy Hattersley. As these 'characters' left the public eye it was generally felt that the show tended to miss more often than it hit. Thatcher was replaced with an all grey John Major who enjoyed nothing better than a nice meal of peas with his wife Norma. Tony Blair appeared in the last few series as a grinning puppet 'puppet' hypnotised by a Peter Mandelson snake. The show ended in 1996 never having been made under a Labour government.

A mainstay of Spitting Image was, of course, The Royal Family. The Queen always seemed ever so slightly mad, Prince Phillip was a blunderbuss-toting loon, Prince Charles a bit of an out-of-touch old hippy and Diana a publicity-hungry Sloane Ranger. There was also randy Prince Andrew, horsey Princess Anne, petulant thicko teenager Prince Edward, tipsy Princess Margaret, truffle-snuffling Fergie and a totally dotty Queen Mum complete with bottle of Gordons Gin, copy of the Racing Post and a Beryl Reid voice.

Other popular puppets included a crying Gazza, a smarmy Jeremy Paxman, Donald Sinden (forever seeking a knighthood), Leonard Nimoy (desperate to shake off his Spock image despite the fact he has pointed ears that flap constantly), hip and swinging Gorby, election-losing David Owen complete with whining, bed-wetting David Steel in his pocket, Sir John Gielgud (who always fell asleep and had to be prodded awake with a stick), bonkers to bits Gaby Roslin, blooper-friendly David Coleman, Paul Daniels and his pet wig, John Cole (always being hit on the head outside parliament), fawning Sir Alistair Burnett, Ian McGaskill (he of the huge flip-back glasses), Madonna (with singing bellybutton), vamp-like Edwina Currie and a truly rock-n-roll Pope John Paul II.

The program was produced by Spitting Image Productions for Central.

In 1986, the Spitting Image puppets had a number one hit in the UK charts with "The Chicken Song", parodying "Agadoo" by Black Lace - one of several parodies to have featured in the programme.

Most of the puppet caricatures were later sold by auction at Sothebys.

More recently 2DTV satirised celebrities in a very similar style to Spitting Image, but used cartoons rather than puppets.

Producer John Lloyd is in talks with ITV to bring Spitting Image back, and if successful, the series could be on TV again from Autumn 2005.

Voices

The voices were provided by some of the best British impressionists, including:

Writers

Writers included:

Producers

Producers included:

Similar shows elsewhere

USA

There were some attempts to produce a US version of the show, but it never really caught on. DC Follies had a passing resemblance to Spitting Image, but was not considered as funny.

List of British TV shows remade for the American market

Spain

Las noticias del guiñol (Canal Plus), Txokolatex (Euskal Telebista)

Portugal

Contra Informação (Radio Televisão Portuguesa)

France

Les Guignols de l'Info (Canal Plus)

The Netherlands

Kopspijkers (Vara)

Germany

Hurra Deutschland (ARD, RTL 2)

External link