By Elizabeth Howcroft
LONDON (Reuters) – British satirical puppet show “Spitting Image” returns this autumn, caricaturing a new generation of public figures to rival past stalwarts from Margaret Thatcher to Ronald Reagan.
The original TV show ran from 1984 to 1996, lampooning Queen Elizabeth as a middle-aged housewife, her son Prince Charles as a hapless victim of his growing ears and then prime minister Thatcher as a tyrannical boss calling her cabinet “the vegetables”.
It regularly drew 15 million viewers, more than a quarter of the British population.
The new series will ridicule the likes of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his powerful advisor Dominic Cummings, plus Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
It will also feature weather updates from Swedish teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who has led global youth anger at potentially catastrophic climate change.
“The new Spitting Image will be global through a uniquely British eye. It will be more outrageous, audacious and salacious than the previous incarnation,” said Roger Law, co-creator of the original show, who returns to lead the new version’s creative team.
That sets the bar high.
In the old show, Thatcher’s successor John Major was represented by a gray puppet to convey his dullness. Then U.S. president Reagan was shown in one episode talking about two guys named Frank and Marc, having not understood that the topic was the currency rates of the French franc and German mark.
“The timing is right, the puppets are ready, the people have spoken,” said Law, mocking Johnson’s recent election campaign rhetoric, which focused on a promise to “get Brexit done”.
“And the message for the doomsayers and gloomsters is, this autumn we will get BritBox done!” said Law.
The new show will air on BritBox, a streaming service created by the BBC and ITV broadcasters, which costs subscribers 5.99 pounds ($7.66) a month.
After the previous show was canceled in 1996, some of its most frequent targets confessed that they had rather enjoyed the notoriety it gave them.
“It was quite a status symbol to be on Spitting Image,” said Edwina Currie, a Conservative politician portrayed as a witch. “In retrospect, I think they got my caricature about right. I grew quite fond of it.”
(Writing by Elizabeth Howcroft; Editing by Estelle Shirbon and Andrew Cawthorne)