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Spitting Image
SpittingImage albumcover.jpg
Spitting Image album cover for "Da Do Run Ron" satirical parody of Ronald Reagan
Genre Political satire
Shock value
Format Puppet show
Voices of Chris Barrie
Harry Enfield
Jon Glover
Louise Gold
Steve Nallon
Kate Robbins
John Sessions
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 18
No. of episodes 141
Production
Producer(s) Central
Running time 30 to 60 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel ITV
Original run 26 February 1984 – 18 February 1996

Spitting Image was a British satirical puppet show which ran on the ITV television network from 1984 to 1996. It was produced by Spitting Image Productions for Central Television. The series was nominated for 10 BAFTA Awards, winning one for editing in 1989.

The series featured puppet caricatures of numerous celebrities who were famous during the 1980s and 1990s. The humour was usually strong and bitingly sharp. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, then American president Ronald Reagan, and the British Royal Family were the most prominent targets, although hundreds of other celebrities were targeted in an equally disrespectful manner.

Certain countries have been inspired to have similar satirical puppet shows, based on "Spitting Image".

Contents

History

Development

The show was in development for several years. The original idea is credited to graphic designer Martin Lambie-Nairn, who proposed the idea of a satirical television show featuring puppets to Peter Fluck and Roger Law, two illustrators and sculptors who worked mostly for the print media. The puppets, caricaturing public figures often including British and American politicians and celebrities, were designed by Fluck and Law (who sometimes spoonerised their names as 'Luck and Flaw'). They were assisted by various young voice caricaturists including David Stoten, Steve Bendelack, Tim Watts, Pablo Bach, Christopher Sharrock (who coined the internal name for the show: "Splitting Headache") 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) and later Steve Brown (who played the character of bandleader Glen Ponder in Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge).

Beginnings

As neither Lambie-Nairn, Fluck or Law had prior TV experience, they turned to others to actually produce the show. Fluck and Law brought in comedy writer and National Lampoon editor Tony Hendra, who they had met previously while working in America. Hendra in turn brought in John Lloyd, producer of the satirical sketch show Not The Nine O'Clock News. They were joined by Jon Blair, a documentary producer. They then hired Muppet puppeteer Louise Gold. The initial development of the show was funded by entrepreneur Clive Sinclair. At the start, in 1984 and 1985, the show wasn't doing well in the ratings, and was nearly cancelled. As there was no availability at Central's Birmingham Studio 1, the team used Studio 2 - better known as the Crossroads Motel, with only one or two episodes in the first series being recorded in Studio 1 - this explains the different studio cameras seen on screen in this series. Occasonally, episodes or individual sketches were recorded at Limehouse Studios in London's Docklands, especially if a special episode or sketch was so topical it had to be recorded there and then, with no time for the puppets to be delievered to Central's Birmingham studios. The Limehouse Studios have since been demolished.

Rob Grant and Doug Naylor were brought in as head writers to try and save the show, with the informal understanding that they would be promoted to executive producers if they succeeded. By 1986, under their supervision, Spitting Image had become a popular phenomenon, even producing a Number 1 hit single (the infamous The Chicken Song), but producer John Lloyd was unaware of the writers' deal and refused their promotion. With the feeling that they wouldn't be able to progress on the show, the pair left (and later created Red Dwarf for BBC2).

Several of the politicians found their characterisations offensive, although in subsequent interviews many were glad of the attention. Though an appreciation of the programme's humour required more than a passing knowledge of British politics, it aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation late on Sunday nights in the late 1980s. The American NBC network aired several prime-time specials adapted from the series in the same period.

Popularity and changes

As the show progressed, Britain's political landscape altered. Particularly, in the early 1990s, many of the subjects of caricature who had proven so popular retired from real-world politics, particularly Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, whilst others such as Michael Heseltine and Norman Tebbit became much less prominent.

At the height of its popularity, Spitting Image also spun off several public exhibits of puppets and props from the series that were displayed at Covent Garden in London, Bath, and other locations.

The show had a short-running dispute with the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) over the use of subliminal images (Flash Frames to be exact), which are illegal on British television. In particular, conservative campaigner Norris McWhirter claimed defamation by the programme from their use. In meetings, the IBA demanded that the producers at Central cease using them, to which the broadcaster replied in an on-air statement that the only way to prove their use was to record the show and analyse it frame-by-frame. Central jokingly claimed that taping the show violated their copyright; this was not strictly accurate, as ITV companies were bound by their contracts to make available all transmitted material to the IBA upon request.

Decline

When Thatcher resigned in November 1990, her successor was her third chancellor, John Major. This marked a decline in the show's fortunes. In fact, the writers of the show found John Major so boring that they decided to invent an affair between him and Virginia Bottomley, a cabinet minister, and highlight their opinion of him by dressing his puppet (skin and all) entirely in shades of grey to make him appear to be on an old black-and-white TV. This was not completely implausible, as it was revealed much later that Major had indeed had an affair, but it was with Edwina Currie, whom the programme-makers had considered in the role as John Major's mistress.

In an attempt to keep the show up-to-date, the show's producers changed part of its format, by reducing the number of politicians and including the addition of animated sketches, from 1989 and then again from 1994. Most notable was the use of a studio audience for the 1992 Election Special, a format which was revisited for two later episodes which were broadcast in late 1993. This was for a segment in each of these shows which featured a spoof of Question Time, in which the puppet characters took questions from the audience. The 1992 show was fronted by the puppet Robin Day, with the puppet Jeremy Paxman filling the role in the episodes broadcast on 14 November 1993 and 12 December 1993. The 1992 Election Special was the first time that Spitting Image had been performed to a studio audience.

In 1995, with viewing figures in decline, production of Spitting Image was cancelled. The final series was aired during January and February 1996, so the show missed Labour's 1997 election victory. The final episode featured a segment entitled "The Last Prophecies of Spitting Image" in which, among other things, Labour moved into Number 10.

ITV's plans of a new Spitting Image series were scrapped in 2006 after a dispute over new Ant & Dec puppets. These puppets were used to host the reviews "Best Ever Spitting Image" against Roger Law's wishes.[1]

Broadcast dates

All episodes and specials were broadcast on Sunday, usually at 10pm unless otherwise stated.

Series

Series Year Dates No. episodes Times
Series 1 1984 26 February - 17 June 12 episodes Mostly 10pm
Series 2 1985 6 January - 24 March 11 episodes Mostly 10pm
Series 3 1986 6 January - 2 Nov 18 episodes Mostly 10pm
Series 4 1987 1 November - 6 December 6 episodes Mostly 10pm
Series 5 1988 6 November - 11 December 6 episodes Mostly 10pm
Series 6 1989 11 June - 9 July 6 episodes Mostly 9.30pm
Series 7 1989 12 November - 17 December 6 episodes Mostly 10.05pm
Series 8 1990 13 May - 24 June 6 episodes Mostly 10.05pm
Series 9 1990 11 November - 16 December 6 episodes Mostly 10.05pm
Series 10 1991 14 April - 19 May 6 episodes Mostly 10.05pm
Series 11 1991 10 November - 15 December 6 episodes Mostly 10.05pm
Series 12 1992 12 April - 17 May 6 episodes Mostly 10.05pm
Series 13 1992 4 October - 8 November 6 episodes 10.05pm
Series 14 1993 16 May - 20 June 6 episodes 10.45pm
Series 15 1993 7 November - 12 December 6 episodes 10pm
Series 16 1994 1 May - 5 June 6 episodes 10pm
Series 17 1994 6 November - 18 December 7 episodes 10pm
Series 18 1996 14 January - 18 February 6 episodes Mostly 11.15pm

Specials

Title Year Date Times Duration
Down And Out In The White House 1986 14 September 9.45pm 45 minutes
The Spitting Image 1987 Movie Awards 1987 Saturday 4 April 10.45pm 30 minutes
Election Special 1987 Thursday 11 June 10pm 45 minutes
A Non-Denominational Spitting Image Holiday Special 1987 27 December 10pm 30 minutes
The Ronnie And Nancy Show 1988 17 April 9.30pm 30 minutes
Bumbledown - The Life and Times of Ronald Reagan 1988 Saturday 29 October 10.15pm 45 minutes
The Sound Of Maggie 1989 Saturday 6 May 10.10pm 45 minutes
Election Special 1992 Wednesday 8 April 10.40pm 30 minutes
The Spitting Image Pantomime 1993 26 December 10pm 30 minutes
Ye Olde Spitting Image 1995 1 January 10.45pm 30 minutes

Legacy and re-runs

From October 1996 to January 1998, Spitting Image Series 1-11 were shown on UK GOLD, then repeated again on UK GOLD from January to September 1998 but they were shown three times per week.

Harshly edited episodes from Series 1-3 and 7 were aired on Granada Plus from 2001-2003.

Most of the puppets were later sold online at a special Amazon.com auction hosted by Sotheby's, including a specially made puppet of Osama Bin Laden which was never used in the series itself.

Former producer John Lloyd was in talks with ITV in the spring of 2005 to bring Spitting Image back, but the attempt failed, reportedly over the cost of its revival, and the non-involvement of Roger Law, one of the show's original creators. More recently 2DTV, incorporating some of the Spitting Image writing team, satirised celebrities in a very similar style to Spitting Image, but used cartoon animation rather than puppets.

On 25 June 2006, ITV transmitted a documentary about the programme, Best Ever Spitting Image. Speculation that a new series would follow was dismissed.[2]

In February 2008, Comedy Central Extra started showing regular repeats of Spitting Image from 9pm on Tuesday evenings, with a whole weekend's worth of evenings devoted to the first two series.

Characters

Politicians

Spitting Image was often praised for its ability to make politicians 'recognisable' and more likable than before. Many British politicians from all parties and movements were parodied. By far the most prominent and arguably the star of the show was Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who was portrayed as a bullying, fascist tyrant and cross-dresser (she wore suits, used the urinals and was portrayed as a cigar-chomper). The Thatcher puppet also had a great dislike of anything French (agreeing with Hitler about 'teaching those Frenchies where to go' and throwing an apple out the window because it was French). What Thatcher actually thought of her puppet is unknown, and many different stories about her opinions are passed around. In the show, Thatcher asked an elderly living Adolf Hitler (who watered plants on the roof of Number 9, Downing Street under the alias of "Herr Jeremy Von Wilcock") for advice, which was to invade the Yorkshire Miner's Union and to force the unemployed into the army),

Alongside Thatcher were her Cabinet, which included:

  • Nigel Lawson, constantly panicking about some financial crisis he had accidentally caused.
  • Douglas Hurd, famous for his Dalek-style voice and his hair shaped like a "Mr. Whippy" ice cream.
  • Norman Tebbit, appearing as a leather-clad skinhead who was loyal to Thatcher, referring to her as "Leader" and often beating up other politicians.
  • Michael Heseltine, growing more and more manic with every series (and wearing a flak jacket during his time as Defence Secretary).
  • Paul Channon, childish and unable to tell his arse from his elbow.
  • Kenneth Baker, slowly transforming into a slug over the series.
  • Nicholas Ridley, constantly smoking and developing the countryside for houses.
  • Kenneth Clarke, portrayed as obese and perpetually drunk despite being Minister for Health.

When Thatcher resigned at the beginning of the 1990s, her successor was her third chancellor, John Major, who was portrayed as a dull, boring and all-grey character who enjoyed nothing better than a nice meal of peas with his wife Norma and was constantly mocked by Humphrey, the Downing Street cat. Prior to Thatcher's resignation, John Major had been portrayed as being robotic with a spinning antenna on his head (it was explained in a sketch that Margaret was still Prime Minister, using the antenna to control Major via a console), standing behind Thatcher in the crowd of sycophant cabinet members, eager to repeat whatever insane rambling the Thatcher puppet screeched.

On the other side of the political house were:

  • Neil Kinnock, the 'Welsh Windbag', talking for hours on end about anything other than his policies.
  • Roy Hattersley, spitting with every word thanks to his lisp (Hattersley himself praised his puppet for actually 'putting the spit into Spitting Image').
  • Michael Foot, aged and senile, ending sentences with "Yes! Argh!".
  • Tony Benn, a rampant socialist with eyes that never looked in the same direction.
  • Ken Livingstone, whose living room was filled with salamanders and snakes.
  • Dennis Healy, with giant eyebrows, always helping Kinnock to look like a fool (accidentally or not).

In earlier episodes, Arthur Scargill, who was a member of the Labour Party until 1997, appeared in his capacity as head of the National Union of Mineworkers, and was portrayed as a literally big-nosed egotist who was generally ignorant about mining.

In 1994, a puppet Tony Blair made his first appearance, with a huge cheesy grin. In one sketch, he was hypnotised by a Peter Mandelson snake. The then deputy leader, John Prescott, was also portrayed as a fat bumbling assistant, along with a squeaky voiced Robin Cook, and an enormous glasses wearing Jack Straw.

There was also the short-lived SDP-Liberal Alliance, before merging to become the Liberal Democrats, with the two leaders: election-losing, populist, arrogant and undecided David Owen, complete with whining, bed-wetting David Steel in his pocket. They were soon replaced in the show by Paddy Ashdown, whose stance of "equidistance" from the two larger parties was satirised by his frequent appearance at the side of the screen during unrelated sketches, saying: "I am neither in this sketch nor not in it, but somewhere in-between".

Royal Family

Another mainstay of Spitting Image was the British Royal Family. The Queen wore a CND badge, always seemed ever so slightly mad and picked clothes from rubbish bins, Prince Philip was a blunderbuss-toting Greek-obsessed buffoon permanently in naval uniform, Prince Charles was a new-age leftist pseudo-hippie, and wife Diana was a publicity-hungry Sloane Ranger. There was also playboy Prince Andrew, horsey Princess Anne, petulant teenager Prince Edward, tipsy Princess Margaret, truffle-snuffling Fergie, and senile Queen Mother, who was generally seen with a bottle of Gordon's Gin, a copy of the Racing Post and a Beryl Reid voice; this was a running joke from a sketch in which the Royal Family's desire to conceal her Birmingham accent was the reason she was very seldom heard speaking on television. Edwina Currie said she liked the fact that the creators made her into a 'Northern grandma', on the Best Ever Spitting Image.

International politicians

Spitting Image also managed to devote some time to lampooning foreign politicians, the most prominent being U.S. President Ronald Reagan who was portrayed as a bumbling, nuke-obsessed fool with a literally missing brain (this was when he developed Alzheimer's). His wife Nancy was the butt of many cosmetic surgery jokes. Alongside Reagan were block-headed Ed Meese, and Caspar Weinberger, whose face resembles the features of a shark. During the Irangate scandal, Reagan was also assisted by Oliver North, constantly denying everything and maintaining secrecy to such extents he would ask for his breakfast to be shredded.

Soon after Reagan came George H. W. Bush and his "running-away" mate, Dan Quayle. The Bush puppet made several retroactive Bushisms ("I'm not exasparating when I state our mission is of the upmost impotence"), and eventually grew so tired of Quayle's gaffes and errors that he had him launched into space.

Other international caricatures included the banjo-playing Pope John Paul II, who didn't even believe in God and spoke with a Texan accent. Another religious character was the booming Ian Paisley, so intent on ridding the world of Gerry Adams that he would frequently demand that God (portrayed as a wishy-washy liberal) would kill him.

More characters included the ancient Konstantin Chernenko, who died several times in the show, and was eventually replaced by the hip-and-swinging Mikhail Gorbachev (his cresent-shaped birth mark was formed into a hammer and sickle, possibly to mock him for being head of the Soviet Union, despite being a communist). P.W. Botha appeared regularly, lampooned by the show for his policy of Apartheid (in one episode, he wakes up to discover he has turned black overnight). Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi appeared in the mid-80s after the American bombing of Libya. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini also made some appearances, and was the subject of an argument among producers who were unsure if Khomeini should speak Persian, English or English with an American accent.

Sport

Fluck and Law were big sporting aficiandos, and Spitting Image regularly devoted some airtime for sporting heroes. England manager Bobby Robson was a senile worrier nicknamed 'Rubbisho' by his team, while Bryan Robson was portrayed as being extremely fragile - in one sketch, his most recent football injury is a severed head.

Ian Botham was a violent drug addict, while colleague Mike Gatting spoke with an extremely high voice. Lester Piggott spoke so nasally, he had to be subtitled. Boxing characters included Frank Bruno with his trademark laugh and catchphrase "where's 'Arry?", and Chris Eubank, with his lisp and upper-class accent. Steve Davis was mind-numbingly boring, upset because he had no nickname, but thought himself to be an interesting character. Davis was reportedly thankful for the characterisation, saying it had made him seem less like a 'winning machine' and more human.

Celebrities

Spitting Image did not restrict itself to just politicians, and managed to parody many celebrities in the public eye. The list of characters is far too numerous to mention (the Best of Spitting Image documentary purports it to be at about 900+), but many characters were to become synonymous with the show. David Coleman was a popular character, parodied for his easily-excitable demeanour and rapid speech. One sketch has him getting so excited his head explodes.

News reporters were also personified with latex puppets. Alastair Burnet was the most prominent, always sycophantic towards the Royal Family and with a nose that randomly inflated. Sandy Gall was portrayed as effeminate, with a camp voice and always worrying about what coat he would wear during his next report. John Cole was virtually incomprehensible, and often had to be dragged off-screen or hit over the head when he talked for too long. Nicholas Witchell was omnipresent, always turning up during a strike to work as a scab labourer rather than a reporter. Kate Adie was portrayed as a thrill-seeker, assigned to the fictional post of BBC Head of Bravery. Jeremy Paxman appeared as an uninterested and self-loving character.

TV hosts were also parodied. Frank Bough was constantly stoned, while his co-host Selina Scott was thick. Terry Wogan was all-Irish ("top o' the ratings to y'!"), and Bernard Manning was an obese racist. Melvyn Bragg, rather than interviewing elevated figures of high culture, settled for television composer Ronnie Hazlehurst and the "Yorrick" skull from Hamlet. Many sketches about David Attenborough revolved around his apparent ability to talk to animals - in one sketch, he even has to go into an anteater's dressing room and convince him to come out and take part in the show. Gap-toothed Jimmy Tarbuck, who ended every sentence with "Ho-Ho!" or "Boom-boom", appeared alongside badly wigged Bruce Forsyth, who spoke every sentence as though it was a catchphrase.

It was not uncommon for celebrities to hate their puppets. Film critic Barry Norman - who would open his sketches with a string of word-play links and cliches, as well as his catchphrase "and why not?" - has been quoted many times as not being a fan of his puppet, mostly because it had a large fictitious wart on its forehead. Magician Paul Daniels did not mind the numerous jokes about his toupée, it was often alive, but took offence to a sketch depicting him nuzzling his assistant Debbie McGee's breasts, which he felt was demeaning. Donald Sinden, portrayed as a 'ham' actor and constantly craving a knighthood, also hated the show.

Musicians were parodied too (see Songs for more). Mick Jagger seemed perpetually high, and his colleague Keith Richards was so old and haggard that he thought he was dead. Ringo Starr was a drunkard, and Paul McCartney was always releasing albums and films that flopped instantly. Madonna changed her hairstyle and clothes with every episode, and Michael Jackson's skin turned lighter and lighter - the puppet starts off as an African-American but slowly turns Albino over the course of the show. There was a musical number suggesting that he got the surgery out of incredible insanity.

The show also took shots at movie stars. Dustin Hoffman spoke very nasally and was parodied for his method acting - in one sketch, he manages to amalgamate all of his most famous roles into one by demanding he play "a short, divorced gay woman who's mentally retarded". Senior actors John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier were always lamenting the deaths of their friends, even lamenting their own death at times. Sylvester Stallone was portrayed as being all-brawn but no-brain, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was huge and muscle-bound, but very insecure about the size of his genitals.

Frequently, the producers would have encounters with celebrities who enjoyed their puppets to such an extent, they wanted to be in on the joke. Jeffrey Archer purportedly sent tapes of his voice to the recording studio to help the impressionists get his voice right. Chris Evans, more notably, phoned up many times, asking if he can voice his own puppet and promising not to interfere with unflattering material. He was turned down. There were also frequent appearances of Lord Lucan, seen to be doing odd jobs under unknown aliases.

Rubber News

The songs

The first single from Spitting Image, released in 1984, was a rework of the Ronettes' Da Do Run Run. The Spitting Image version, Da Do Run Ron, was a spoof election campaign song for Ronald Reagan, featuring Nancy Reagan listing reasons why "you gotta re-elect him", with lyrics like "Yeah! He can really act, Yeah! He lowered income tax, Yeah! He hates the Warsaw Pact". The cover of the single featured Reagan as a biker with Nancy riding pillion.

The B-side of this single was another rework of an existing song, namely Just A Girl Who Can't Say No from the musical Oklahoma. The Spitting Image team's version was entitled Just A Prince Who Can't Say No and poked fun at the sexual indiscretions of Prince Andrew.[3]

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, mimicking moronic holiday songs with an annoyingly unforgettable tune and completely nonsensical lyrics. The Chicken Song hit number 1 in the charts for 3 weeks from 17 May 1986 – 3 June 1986 and VH1 US named it as one of the worst number 1 nominations.

The other songs released by Spitting Image were "I've Never Met A Nice South African" (which was on the B-Side of "The Chicken Song" and was a savage indictment of the apartheid-ridden country), "We're Scared Of Bob" and "Hello You Must Be Going" (on the 12" release of The Chicken Song), "Santa Claus Is On The Dole" (backed with "The Atheist Tabernacle Choir"), "The Christmas Singles" and "Cry Gazza Cry". "The Chicken Song" was by far the most successful of all of their music and not-so-subtle references were made to it in subsequent sketches in the show itself. In 1986, a compilation LP "Spit In Your Ear" was produced, featuring some of their sketches over time along with a few of their songs, followed in 1990 by "20 Great Golden Gobs", a songs-only collection from the 1986-1990 series.

In 1986, the Spitting Image team experienced some "real" musical success when they created the video for "Land of Confusion" by Genesis, a song which implied that Thatcher and Reagan were about to bring the world to a nuclear war. Phil Collins saw a disfigured version of himself on the show and contacted the show's producers with the idea to produce the video. The video was depicted as a nightmare Reagan was having, which left him completely immersed in sweat from worrying.

The end of the 1987 election featured a young boy, dressed as a city banker, singing "Tomorrow Belongs To Me", a parody of the film Cabaret, when a member of the Hitler Youth starts singing the same song.

In one instance Sting was persuaded to sing a re-worded version of "Every Breath You Take", titled "Every Bomb You Make", to accompany a video showing the Spitting Image puppets of world leaders and political figures of the day, usually with the figure matching the altered lyrics "Every wall you build, Every one you've killed, Every grave you've filled, all the blood you've spilled, I'll be watching you." The video ended with the grim reaper appearing in front of a sunset. This version was due to be resurrected by Sting at the Live8 concert, and the parody lyrics were cleared with their writers Quentin Reynolds and James Glen, but plans were abandoned at the last minute.

Other musical parodies featured Michael Jackson, Kylie Minogue, The Monkees, Pulp, Brett Anderson of Suede, Pet Shop Boys, Oasis, ZZ Top, Prince and Barbra Streisand.

Video and DVD releases

The programme was first released on video in 1986 with a total of three compilations featuring material from the first two series ("Spit With Polish", A Floppy Mass Of Blubber" & "Rubber Thingies"). All carried a 15 certificate and were reissued in 1988.

Another Spitting Image video released in 1988 was "Rockin' Ronnie", but did not mention Spitting Image on the box. This special was made exclusively for video and cannot be found anywhere else.

Video 5 released in 1989 by Central Video, contained the specials "Bumbledown: The Life & Times Of Ronald Reagan" and "The Sound Of Maggie". Next was a video containing a collection of the music videos from the programme, titled "The Classic Music Video Vol 1", released in 1991 by Central Video under The Video Collection Ltd (VCI or 2entertain); there was never a Volume 2.

A compilation of sketches from 1990 & 1991 (series 8-11) was next, titled "Is Nothing Sacred?", released in 1992 by Surprise Video.

In 1996 FA to Fairplay was released on VHS, later reissued on DVD in 2005. Made specially for video, it provided an alternative look at the 1996 European football championship held in England.

The first eight series including An 11-disc set (containing the first 7 series broadcast 1984-89) have been released by Network, so far[4]. The ninth series is due in 2010.

DVD release dates

DVD Discs Year Ep. # Release Date
Region 2
Complete Series 1 2 1984 12 28 January 2008
Complete Series 2 2 1985 11 28 July 2008
Complete Series 3 3 1986 18 29 September 2008
Complete Series 4 1 1987 6 3 November 2008
Complete Series 5 1 1988 6 23 March 2009
Complete Series 6 1 1989 5 11 May 2009
Complete Series 7 1 1989 6 17 August 2009
Complete Series 8 1 1990 6 19 October 2009
Complete Series 1 - 7 11 1984 - 1989 64 2 November 2009

Staff

Creators

  • Peter Fluck and Roger Law spoonerised as Luck and Flaw
  • Martin Lambie-Nairn (On the credits, his credit was "Based on the original lunch with Martin Lambie-Nairn")

Voices

The voices were provided by prominent British impressionists (some were not so well known at the time), including:

Performers

The puppets were operated by popular British performers, including:

Writers

Producers

Directors

Production assistants

  • Barbara Bradbury
  • Lesley Jones
  • Jean Holdsworth

Archive researchers

  • Rob Peers
  • Janet Pitts
  • Linda Woodhouse
  • Janet Rayner
  • Margaret Duerden

Costumes

  • Jackie Hallatt
  • Sue Gibson

Similar shows elsewhere

Argentina

A political satire programme called Kanal K was aired by Canal 13 during the early 1990s. The show was (theoretically) cancelled after a serious row with the Catholic Church over Kanal K's puppet of Pope John Paul II saying "va fangulo" (meaning "fuck you" in Italian). Unofficial rumors say that Kanal K was cancelled on behalf of former President Carlos Saúl Menem because the programme depicted him in a derisive manner. However, this version was never officially confirmed.Besides,the former president is known as a person with an ample sense of humour.

Australia
Bulgaria
  • Talking Heads (TV7)
Brazil
Canada (Quebec)
  • Et Dieu créa… Laflaque[1]
Chile

During the 1990s, an imitation of the Spitting Image show, called Los Toppins, was aired on the television network Megavision. More successful, although oriented to a younger audience was the 31 Minutos show, which aired on TVN.

Colombia
  • Los reencauchados (Cenpro Televisión, 1995)
Czech Republic
France
Finland
Germany
Greece
Hungary
  • Uborka (MTV 1)
Ireland
India
Israel
Italy
Japan
  • Spitting Image Japan (Fuji Television) - aired in the program Raster Tunnels 94 in 1994 and followed the same format as Spitting Image but satirised Japanese politicians instead.
Mexico
New Zealand
  • Public Eye - aired in the 1980s and followed the same format as Spitting Image but satirised NZ politicians instead. Facelift (tv show)
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Russia
Serbia
South Africa
  • Za News (Web only; rejected by SABC due to controversial content)
Spain
Sweden
  • Riksorganet (SVT)
Switzerland
  • Les Bouffons de la Confédération (Léman Bleu) & (La Télé)

In the United States

In an attempt to crack the American market, there were some attempts to produce a US version of the show. A 45-minute 'made for market' show by the original Spitting Image team, entitled Spitting Image: Down And Out In The White House was produced in 1986 by Central for the NBC network.

Introduced by David Frost, it departed from the sketch-based format in favour of an overall storyline involving the upcoming (at that time) Presidential election. The plot involved a conspiracy to replace Ronald Reagan with a double (actually actor Dustin Hoffman in disguise). This plan was hatched by the Famous Corporation, a cabal of the ultra-rich headed by Johnny Carson's foil Ed McMahon (in the show, Carson was his ineffectual left-hand man) who met in a secret cavern hollowed out behind the facade of Mount Rushmore. Eventually, their plot foiled, the famous corporation activated their escape pod - Abraham Lincoln's nose - and left Earth for another planet, but (in a homage to the beginning of the Star Wars movies) were destroyed during a collision with 'a nonsensical prologue in gigantic lettering'.

The show was not very successful with its target audience, possibly because its humour was still very British and it was so irreverent about Ronald Reagan at a time when he was enormously popular with the American public. It did, however, receive great praise from critics and it was followed by several more TV specials: The Ronnie & Nancy Show (also satirising the Reagans), The 1987 Movie Awards (sending up the Academy Awards), Bumbledown: The Life and Times of Ronald Reagan (a quasi-documentary about the President), and The Sound of Maggie (a musical based very loosely on West Side Story).

The American puppeteers Sid and Marty Krofft later had a degree of success with a vaguely satirical show called D.C. Follies which ran from 1987 to 1989, was clearly inspired by Spitting Image, but was far less acerbic in its humour.

See also

References

  • Chester, Lewis. Tooth & Claw - The Inside Story of Spitting Image, Faber and Faber, 1986 ISBN 0-571-14557-4

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Spitting Image (1984-1996) Is a satirical comedy show using latex puppets of politicians, celebrities, sports stars and the Royal Family to portray events of the previous week.

Contents

Characters

Margaret Thatcher

[Margaret Thatcher is treating her Cabinet to a meal at a restaurant.]
Waitress: Would you like to order, sir?
Thatcher: Yes. I will have the steak.
Waitress: How would you like it?
Thatcher: Oh, raw, please.
Waitress: And what about the Vegetables?
Thatcher: Oh, they'll [The Cabinet] have the same as me!

Thatcher: Geoffrey, you're a complete imbecile. We can't have a quick war just to win votes! [Beat] Though, now that you mention it, look into it, will you?

Parkinson: Do we have any other business?
Thatcher: I bloody well hope not; we've sold it all off!

Thatcher: We have to get rid of Enoch. There is no room for racists in the Conservative Party - we're choc-a-bloc as it is!

Ronald Reagan

Reagan: [Having just passionately kissed Margaret Thatcher] Well, so long hunny-bun. What a fine-lookin' woman. Pity I'm only screwing her country!

Reagan: [In the White House bedroom, going back to sleep after being awake for 2 minutes] This is a great country, I wonder who runs it?

Dialogue

Thatcher: Oh dear. We're never going to win the next election now! We need some way of winning votes!
Howe: I suggest a quick war in early '87. That should get some votes.
Thatcher: Geoffrey, you're a complete imbecile. We can't have a quick war just to win votes! [Beat] Though, now that you mention it, look into it, will you?
Brittan: In the meantime, sir, how about the anniversary of a war?
Lawson: Yes! How about the twenty-fifth anniversary...
Hurd: Or Silver Jubilee.
Lawson:...or Silver Jubilee, of 1962!
Thatcher: But there wasn't a war in 1962, you doughball! [To man with his hand up] And you are...?
Kenneth Williams: Williams, Prime Minister, from the department of Kenneths. They sent me to replace Kenneth Clarke.
Thatcher: And what's your idea?
Williams: Gentlemen, it's obvious! The fiftieth anniversary of [speeds up] Hitler first thinking about invading Poland, thus leading to the start of World War II! [slows down again] Today.
Thatcher: You're fired! Get out of my sight!
Williams: Oh, Bitch! [Leaves]
Heseltine: This is an outrage! I'm leaving again! [Also leaves]
Thatcher: Right, I have it: The Sixtieth Anniversary of roughly halfway between both World Wars which we both won today. So Vote Conservative.
Cabinet: Oh, brilliant! Marvelous! etc.

Steel: David?
Owen: [Putting on lipstick] Yes, David?
Steel: Um, people are becoming worried.
Owen: [Donning a wig] About what?
Steel: Worried that your becoming, um, a closet Conservative.
Owen: A closet Conservative? [Now with Thatcher's voice] That's ridiculous.
Steel: Yes, that's what I thought. So you're still committed to the Alliance?
Owen: [Still with Thatcher's voice] I care passionately about the Alliance, David. I certainly don't intend to do a U-turn on that one.
Steel: Oh. Great. Um, glad we had this chat. [Leaves]
Owen: You wet wimp!
Brittan: Oh, good evening, Prime Minister. You look lovely today!

Unnamed characters: [chanting] Immigrants out! Immigrants out!
Bill Clinton: Immigrants out? So you want me to send all white Americans back to Europe on the w:Mayflower?

[beat]

Unnamed characters: Yeah! [chanting] Send us back! Send us back!
Clinton: [face in palm] Who are these people...?

[A parody of BSkyB's early '90s Stalin commercial, set to the the footage of archive Nuremberg rally footage]

Adolf Hitler: [voiced with Yorkshire accent] 'Ey up, missis! I'm another one of those tasteful adverts for satellite dishes! 'Oo wants a free subscription, then?
Nazi officer: I do!
Crowd: [chanting] Me too! Me too! Me too! Me too!
SA: I'll 'ave one!
Nazi officer: Save one for me, Adolf!
Hitler: You bunch of Panzers!

[cut to band footage as a drum ensemble sounds out Hitler's joke]]

Hitler: So get Sky! It'll be Reich up your street! Ooh, they've got that Pol Pot on next week! He'll sell a few more!

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