30 years ago ITV aired a satirical puppet series called Spitting Image. The puppets were made from latex. Many of the crew had previously worked on ATV’s The Muppet Show. In 1986 the Spitting Image ‘stars’ had a number one chart hit in the UK with ‘The Chicken Song’. There were occasional complaints, like when Spitting Image tried to depict God and when they focused on the Royal Family, but it was very popular for the most part. BBC will celebrate the 30th anniversary of ITV’s spitting image this year.
BBC Four is to mark the 30th anniversary of the first episode of satirical puppet series Spitting Image airing on ITV.
The BBC’s flagship arts documentary series Arena will celebrate the influence of Spitting Image, three decades on. The series was produced by Central Television at the ATV Centre studios in Birmingham.
Reuniting the founding creative team, Arena: Whatever Happened To Spitting Image? will tell the vexed and frequently hilarious story of the genesis of the satirical puppet show, with exclusive contributions from caricaturists Peter Fluck, Roger Law and TV producer John Lloyd.
The series was launched by ATV/Central Head of Programmes Charles Denton and saw the show spanning the early years of Margaret Thatcher’s government to the end of John Major’s.
The puppets became almost as famous as the politicians they lampooned. In 2000, the puppets were auctioned off at Sotheby’s and in the course of this programme the team sets out to discover where they now reside and who is taking care of them in their old age.
I made a film about Fluck and Law in 1980, some years before Spitting Image was made, so it’s great to be able to revisit their distinctive contribution to Britain’s television history. – Anthony Wall, Series Editor of Arena
Revealing the extraordinary technical achievement of the series, Arena meets the caricaturists, puppet-mould makers, designers, puppeteers, impressionists, writers and directors who worked tirelessly to ensure the show landed its weekly jibes and punches at the politicians, royals and celebrities of the day. And, tracing its journey to our television screens, through 12 years of huge audience figures and weekly controversy to its eventual demise, BBC Arena will ask what Spitting Image got right, where it went wrong and whether its absence the last 17 years has left a hole in the schedules that has yet to be filled by modern broadcasting.
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There’s always room for a good satire. Satire is a lost art and is increasingly coming under the fire of the politically correct, however making fun of things that need to be exposed in their true light is the job of satire and nothing does it quite as well. We’re glad BBC is celebrating the 30th anniversary of ITV’s Spitting Image. Bravo!