Spitting Out the Whole Thing
A couple weeks ago, I posted a video here of the satirically brutal finish of the election night special done by the British puppet show, Spitting Image. The show was on the air in the U.K. from 1984-1996 and won 10 BAFTA Awards. (In fact, it even won two Emmy Awards in 1985 and 1986 in the Popular Arts Category. They had tried bringing the show to the U.S., though its harsh brand of political and social satire didn't catch on here.)
If you don't know Spitting Image, this is a terrific retrospective of the program done in 2006, The Best Ever Spitting Image. It does a terrific job giving a sense of the show, with interviews with the creators Peter Fluck and Roger Law, as well as the show's writers and voice actors -- but also there are interviews with many of their public targets in politics, show business and sports. (Some of who loved the harsh satire of them, but the special includes some of those who didn't.) They also show how the puppets were created and operated. Overall, it's a very even-handed show, dealing with both the positive and negatives. Though it's mostly positive. But then, the program was wildly successful and largely admired.
At one point, there was serious talk of bringing the show back. And oddly, this documentary both helped and ended that talk. It was done, in part, as a way to set the foundation for the show's return. But in doing they, the BBC included two new puppets, Ant and Dec, to serve as sort of hosts intercut throughout. And Spitting Image's creators were hugely against this being done. So strongly against it, in fact, that talks broke down about doing the show again, and they put an end to it. (Interestingly, the makers of the special a sort of reference to this. Whether they knew at that point that the creators had officially walked away or not, I'm not sure.).
A shame, but at least the special stands wonderfully on its own.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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