“Spitting mad!” screamed the tabloid headlines when news broke that Spitting Image, the 1980s satirical puppet show, was to feature the Queen Mother. It’s pretty much what I thought when I heard that the show is to return on the subscription service BritBox. Not that I disapprove of its revival — it’s just that tackling the logistical nightmare of such a complex and expensive show today seems sheer lunacy.
Back in 1984, when I was hired as a 25-year-old cartoonist to write scripts for the new ITV show, money was no object. The targets we were lampooning — Thatcher’s Tories in their heyday — had created the boom economy that allowed the show to thrive on the back of television advertising. Our co-producer, Jon Blair, once asked us if we needed a New York-style fire escape for a West Side Story parody we were writing. We said no. “I’ll buy it anyway, just in case,” he replied.