The 30th anniversary of ITV's satirical puppet show Spitting Image
is to be marked with a special documentary on BBC Four.
In Whatever Happened To Spitting Image?
the arts strand Arena
will reunite the founding creative team and 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
Spanning 131 episodes over 18 series from February 1984 to February 1996
, the show was made for Central Independent Television
and broadcast across the ITV network.
The puppets became almost as famous as the politicians they lampooned, and in 2000 were auctioned off at Sotheby's. In the course of the documentary, the team sets out to discover where they now reside and who is taking care of them in their old age.
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 TV screens, through 12 years of huge audience figures and weekly controversy to its eventual demise, Arena
will ask what Spitting Image
got right, where it went wrong, and whether its absence for the past 17 years has left a hole in the schedules that has yet to be filled by modern broadcasting.
The documentary has been directed by Arena
series editor Anthony Wall
, who said:
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.Cassian Harrison
, the channel editor for BBC Four, commented:
It's a testament to Arena's success and eclectic tastes that they've secured access to the Spitting Image team. This is a timely opportunity for Arena to look back at one of television's most extraordinary satirical successes.
A date for broadcasting the one-hour programme is yet to be confirmed, with the BBC currently saying that it will air in the spring, but it will have a preview screening at the BFI Southbank
on Thursday 27th February at 6.10pm
Thirty years ago, Roger Law and Peter Fluck were happily ensconced in a converted Temperance Hall in Cambridge making cruelly funny Plasticine caricatures. These models were photographed and presented to the world in print under the anonymous byline "Luck & Flaw". Unlike a drawing, the caricatures looked like they might move and, Geppetto-style, they did. Law and Fluck, with co-conspirator TV comedy supremo John Lloyd, unleashed one of the most shocking and hilarious TV series ever. Arena tells the story of Spitting Image.
After the screening, there will be a question-and-answer session with Fluck, Law, Lloyd, and Wall.
The big-screen showing and Q&A will be followed at 8.45pm
with a special two-hour celebration and Q&A featuring clips and guests including impressionist Steve Nallon
plus "victims" Lord Roy Hattersley
and Lord David Steel
We're delighted to host a panel of well-known writers and performers who gave the show its satirical edge and who became household names in the process, alongside some of their victims - politicians and celebrities - who will discuss the effect their puppet personas had on their careers. Using illustrative clips, we examine the show's controversial impact at the time and its lasting legacy, and reveal behind-the-scenes secrets of the performers, puppeteers, writers, and directors. So, in the words of one famous crew member: "Puppets up, loves - wave those dollies in the air!"
Tickets to both events go on public sale at 11.30am on Tuesday 11th February
- click here
for the preview screening/Q&A and here
for the celebration/Q&A - with a joint event ticket also being made available.