Say that you’re a production executive at a big media company. Due to the pandemic, audiences are thirsty for new, interesting things, but the media landscape is largely stagnating due to the problems associated with filming new things at the moment. People are getting bored of watching repeats, so what do you do? Easy: just recomission a classic satirical show from the eighties which used puppets to make fun of current political events. That way, no actors need to risk their lives, but not only does it satisfy an audience’s need to poke fun at the current political farce, it also appeals to their sense of nostalgia.
To be honest I was never into Spitting Image; I was too young to appreciate political satire when it first aired in the eighties. My only real contact with it was when my brother Mark played The Chicken Song on his ghetto blaster, but even then I didn’t realise where it came from. Yet it’s return to screens, albeit online ones, this Autumn seems very timely: when you think about it, it’s the perfect show for these crazy times, with politics more farcical and suited for satire than ever, but with no actual actors involved. Of course, it remains to be seen how well the new series goes down – there have been attempts to revive it before – but personally I have high hopes.