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Spitting Image
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TV Series
    (February 26, 1984-February 18, 1996)
    Aired on ITV
    Created by Peter Fluck, Roger Law, and Martin Lambie-Naim
    Puppeteers included Richard Coombs, Louise Gold, Brian Herring, Steve Nallon, and Tim Rose
    Voice actors included Chris Barrie, Harry Enfield, Jon Glover, Kate Robbins, and John Sessions
    Premise: Satire of politics and popular culture using puppets
    Some of the puppets were downright creepy. (The more extreme ones of Margaret Thatcher could star in a politically themed ‘Night of the Living Dead.’)
    Some of the puppets did not look much like the celebrities they were supposedly based on. (Such as Barry Norman being depicted with a huge, fictional wart.)
    As a cost-cutting measure, some puppets were recycled, such as Ringo Starr being dyed a darker shade and getting a new outfit to become Yasir Arafat.
    A lot of the humor has not aged well. (For instance, ‘I’ve Never Met a Nice South African’ lost most of its bite in the post-apartheid era.)
    Three TV specials meant to introduce the show to American audiences got poor ratings.
    Talks of a revival in the 2000s faltered because Roger Law was still ticked off over the unauthorized creation of new Ant and Dec puppets for the ‘Best Ever Spitting Image’ special.
    It did not use a laugh track. (Except in the pilot episode, when the network insisted.)
    ‘The Chicken Song’ – their parody of mindless holiday hits like Black Lace’s ‘Agadoo’ – copied the cheesy earworminess of its inspirations uncannily enough to become a #1 hit in Britain.
    Several politicians and celebrities saw being lampooned on the show as a sign they had made it.
    After seeing himself caricatured on the show, Phil Collins hired Fluck and Law to create the video for Genesis’s ‘Land of Confusion,’ which won a Grammy in the short-lived category Best Concept Music Video.
    When Roger Law donated his archives – including original scripts, recordings, and puppet molds – to Cambridge (2018), university librarian Jessica Gardner called the collection, ‘a national treasure,’ adding, ‘Spitting Image was anarchic, it was creative, it entered the public imagination like nothing else from that era. It is an extraordinary political and historical record.’
    A revival debuted on BritBox (October 3, 2020).

Credit: C. Fishel

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