One of the best discoveries I made when visiting England during the mid-80’s (sometime around 1985 or ’86, I think) was Spitting Image, a BBC political satire show using latex puppet caricatures of political figures. Hilarious stuff, and something that never really caught on in the states — for most people in the US, their only exposure to the Spitting Image puppets was in the video for Genesis’ “Land of Confusion“.
The BBC Comedy Guide has a good summary of the show:
In Spitting Image, famous characters in British and international life were re-created in the form of latex puppets, which – in the manner of newspaper political cartoons – grossly exaggerated that person’s most obvious facial or personality characteristic. Given voices by top-line impressionists and vocal caricaturists, the puppets were manipulated by a team of skilled handlers to act out the quantity of wickedly witty sketches that comprised each edition of the show. Essentially, then, viewing Spitting Image was not only like watching your favourite or most despised public figures taking part in topical comedy skits but also seeing and hearing them in a dialogue free of the omnipresent facade of PR gloss and occasional deceit – revealing, perhaps, the true personality underneath, or at the very least, a wicked, exaggerated guess at same. In this fashion, many hundreds – perhaps even a thousand – of people in the news, or faces just plain familiar to TV viewers, spanning the years 1984-96, were lampooned by Spitting Image. (To have been a Spitting Image target was deemed an honour by many.)
Now it looks like Spitting Image may be coming back!
Spitting Image producer John Lloyd is in talks with ITV in a bid to bring the satirical series back to the channel.
Mr Lloyd was an original producer of the show, which lampooned politicians and celebrities using latex puppets.
ITV confirmed having “early stage talks” with Mr Lloyd over the show, which originally ran from 1984 to 1996.
The article doesn’t mention whether the original puppetmakers Fluck and Law will be overseeing the puppet construction process or not, though as many of the original puppets were auctioned off in 2000 when Roger Law moved to Australia, that may be doubtful.
iTunes: “Maestro, The” by Beastie Boys, The from the album Check Your Head (1992, 2:52).