Spitting Image to return?

Sunday 19th July 2015, 9:10am

Spitting Image. Copyright: Central Independent Television

Spitting Image, the satirical puppet sketch show, could return.

Created by Peter Fluck and Roger Law, the hit comedy originally ran on ITV from 1984 to 1996, defining an entire generation of politicians in the public mind.

Clocking up more than 100 episodes across 18 series, Spitting Image is widely regarded as one of Britain's most successful satirical comedy shows. At the height of its popularity the series had the power to influence national opinion, with its biting jokes reaching more than 18 million viewers each week.

John Lloyd, the show's original producer, is now talking about returning to the format, possibly morphing it into an online show.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily Mail, Lloyd confirmed he was serious about bringing the show back.

This news follow the broadcast of Newzoids, ITV's most recent attempt to recapture Spitting Image's satirical comedy in a modern format. Broadcast during and in the immediate aftermath of the 2015 General Election campaign, it concluded in May with 1.71 million viewers.

However, Lloyd looks set to take Spitting Image to the internet rather than work with ITV again. He has previously criticised the broadcaster for "corner cutting" on quality and for going ahead with Best Ever Spitting Image, a 2006 special hosted by puppet versions of Ant & Dec, something which was against Roger Law's wishes.

Talking about the network in 2007, Lloyd said: "The problem is that modern TV is driven by ratings and short term needs for approval. In the old days people were much more driven by making it right."

This is not the first time that a revival of the show has been mooted. A previous attempt was launched in 2004. At the time, Lloyd said: "Everybody seems to have residual affection for Spitting Image. It could be scrappy and uneven, but it's rather like a newspaper. You don't expect it to be brilliant every time, but there's something delicious in every edition."

John Lloyd

Speaking to this weekend's Daily Mail to promote his Edinburgh Fringe show John Lloyd: Emperor Of The Prawns, the producer revealed: "I'm thinking of doing it online to see if there is any interest."

He also revealed that he has already discussed the opening sketch with Nick Newman and Ian Hislop, two of the sketch show's original writers. "It should start with their theory about Nigel Farage and Jeremy Clarkson. It's just one slightly paunchy bloke who likes a pint and a fag."

Lloyd, who also produced Blackadder and is the brains behind panel show QI, quit working on Spitting Image in 1986 due to stress.

Responding to a question about his private school background and route into TV through Cambridge's Footlights, Lloyd commented: "I wish you'd had my fucking life to see how not easy it was. How not easy it was to get Spitting Image made at all and then making it work."

Talking about Spitting Image's influence, he explained: "For 12 years a whole generation learned their politics from a late-night comedy show on ITV. The average teenager could name eight or nine members of the Cabinet and three or four members of the opposition."

In the interview, Lloyd also discusses how he developed QI. He said: "I got very lost in my 40s. I was far too successful too young. I won a lifetime award at 38 and I thought, great I've achieved everything. One day I just woke up and didn't see the point of it..."

Finding life was "getting narrower and narrower" Lloyd started to look around for inspiration and discovered that "the world is unknowably and bottomlessly interesting in every direction. So QI was a philosophy long before it was a programme - it was going to be an online encyclopaedia - this is years before Wikipedia. Eventually, it became what it is. So I look back at my midlife crisis now and think I'm lucky that happened to me."

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