The American songwriter Tom Lehrer said that satire died when Henry Kissinger won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. That, of course, was long before Donald Trump became president and satire was cremated. And now, almost a quarter of a century since it last aired on ITV, BritBox has revived Spitting Image, but can these puppets bite as hard as their ancestors in a very different world?
In The Guardian Mark Lawson reminds us that Spitting Image’s original incarnation between 1984 and 1996 was a period ripe for satirising a Conservative government. “Admirers of the franchise will be relieved that the revival… has lost none of its savagery or willingness to shock.” And he is delighted that there are nine more weeks of it to come. The Daily Mail’s Jan Moir is annoyed that “Politically, the entire show is about as balanced as a three-legged elephant on a tightrope” and that “the grim level of schoolboy satire and jokes… is mostly rather poor.” However in The Times Dominic Maxwell points out that “Roger Law, one of the original creators of the show, and his fleet of writers know that puppets and the grotesquery that goes with them can come to the rescue when the impressions or the punchlines are not 100 per cent there.” And he reckons that on balance it’s good: “Boasting more hits than misses, this opening salvo suggests that Spitting Image still has some fire lurking in its belly.”
Hold the homilies: the new Spitting Image, might just work.
First shown September 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.