Last night ITV broadcast a tribute to Spitting Image, the much-missed satirical puppet based comedy of the 1980s and 90s. This is the second or third Spitting Image tribute of the past couple of years and went through the usual Spitting Image cliches.
Chicken Song? Check
David Steel being upset at portrayal as victim of Owen’s domination? Check
Oh, it’s the first programme to have a go at the royals? Check
Thatcher and the “what about the vegetables?” sketch? Check
Creation of character for Steve Davis? Check
Grey John Major and peas? Check
Tebbit as thug? Check
Thatcher as Churchill? Check
Young impressionists? Coogan? Enfield? McGowan? Culshaw? Check – all present and correct
Incisive commentary from the man Maconie? No. The first clip show I have seen without the presence of Stuart Maconie. What were the researchers thinking?
Anyway, the most interesting thing in last night’s broadcast was the appearance of diminutive magician Paul Daniels. Daniels – star of ITV1’s Celebrity X Factor and When Louis met… – was interviewed talking about his puppet. While claiming to have been amused by the “One man and his wig” sketch (where a rural voiceover celebrates the skills of Daniels in his close control over his wig – sadly without the technical One man and his dog commentary on the lift, the shedding ring, &c) he was upset over another sketch. This was when his puppet removed the top of “the lovely Debbie McGee” (TM) puppet and the Daniels puppet nuzzled her bosom. Daniels claimed that this revealed the dark side of Spitting Image (?). It wasn’t funny, because it wasn’t real. This from a man that claimed to have been amused by a peripatetic wig roaming free under the whistling control of a bald latex puppet. It was definitely the reality of that sketch that made it work for me.
However, perhaps Paul Daniels does have something in his theory of comedy. It may well be the reality of something that makes it funny. For example, if an imaginary man walks down an imaginary road and falls on an imaginary banana skin, it is not funny.
However, when that happened to my great uncle it was hilarious.