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March 14 2020
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Spitting Image, 1986: Princes Andrew, Charles, and Philip.

“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.

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