Alastair Campbell, the former spin doctor at the heart of the New Labour government, wants the classic puppet satire show Spitting Image to return.
That is to say, now he is no longer working at the heart of Whitehall, he wants today’s crop of politicians to get a pasting from the legendary latex satire.
“Bring back Spitting Image,” he said in an after-dinner speech at the Royal Television Society’s Cambridge Convention.
“We are living in times beyond parody. So where is it? Look at the raw material we have got right now, the puppets we could have, the compelling lampooning. Trump and Putin, Kim Jong un, he’s a walking puppet. Mr and Mrs Macron. Tracey Ullman has shown that Angela Merkel is eminently doable. But she’s the only one who’s doing her.
“And Theresa, the soft remainer who became a hard Brexiteer, the vicar’s daughter who prided herself on ‘assessing facts and making informed decisions as Home Secretary’ transformed into the promise-breaking control freak with the touch of the Erdogans around the eyes that she has as Prime Minister, the seeming inability to empathise with human beings.”
Of course the Labour-supporting Campbell didn’t just target Tories. He said that a revived Spitting Image would also be able to get the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn who had “the wrong friends, the beard, the cap the clothes the red tie that doesn’t quite get tied straight the Kool Aid with the Kids”.
Added Campbell: “And the backup characters, so many of them. [Jacob] Rees-Mogg. What sort of country have we become that he’s second favourite to be the next Prime Minster? Imagine Tim Farron in a dog collar, Vince Cable ballroom dancing, Boris Johnson with a lie detector every time he opens his mouth, Liam Fox travelling the world failing to do trade deals.
“And there’s David Davis growing in inverse proportion to the progress of negotiations about the future of the country, Philip Hammond replacing John Major in the ‘more peas’ section of Spitting Image, David Cameron in his shed oblivious to the damage he has brought to the country, George Osborne with his editor’s green eye shade and green-eyed envy of Theresa and the job he wanted.
“There’s tonnes of them. Politics may be in a desperate state but surely you lot can get that lot into a decent satirical programme.”
Spitting image aired on ITV between 1984 and 1996, running for 18 series. It was a huge success, pulling in up to 15 million viewers per night on Sunday nights in 1986 and there has been frequent talk about bringing it back.
Between 2001 and 2004 ITV aired 2DTV which used computer animation and not puppets. It was axed after five series and 33 episodes.
However the original Spitting Image was very expensive to make – costing around £300,000 in the mid 1980s, estimated at around £1m in today’s money for each half hour.
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years. After a two year stint on local newspapers in the mid 1990s, he spent more than 5 years as the broadcast reporter at the Stage newspaper. Following that he enjoyed staff reporting positions at the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times breaking stories and writing features before settling as a full time freelance writing for an array of newspapers and magazines - but mainly for the Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.