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March 2, 2014

Happy Birthday Spitting Image

Show celebrates with exhibition and TV documentary

posted by Mike Walton

Thirty years ago, Spitting Image’s latex puppets captivated and scandalised the nation.

From the relentless mocking of national treasures – a gin-swigging Queen Mother, a dizzy Diana, a blunderbuss-toting Prince Philip – to international figures including a womanising Pope John Paul II, a scornfully domineering Margaret Thatcher and a trigger-happy President Reagan, nothing and no one was sacred.

Not even God, who was shown scouring Heaven for a copy of the Bible, with Jesus suggesting he follows JR Hartley and consults Yellow Pages, parodying a TV ad of the time. That sketch brought hundreds of complaints from viewers.

As Spitting Image celebrates its 30th anniversary with a London exhibition and a BBC Arena documentary, the programme makers and some of its victims are happy to recall the golden age of political satire on TV.
Between 1984 and 1996 a regular audience of 15 million tuned in to wallow in the mockery of politicians, pop stars, sports personalities, religious figures and world leaders. The show won ten BAFTAs and two Emmys.

Rod's latex double was one of 270 puppets auctioned at Sotherby's in London for a total of £160,000 his selling for a whopping £1,116 alone, Rod's voice in the show was done by Michael Fenton Stevens

The exhibition Spitting Image From Start To Finish is at London’s Cartoon Museum until 8 June. The TV documentary will be on BBC4 on 20 March.

© 2019 SMILER Magazine

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