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08th Oct 2020

Spitting Image pulled from US TV over fears of offending powerful people

Wil Jones

“Inevitably if you attack tall poppies, people get worried.”

The new version of Spitting Image will not be shown on American television because of “too much nervousness” about offending the wrong people.

US network NBC was in discussions to air the new show in America but backed out at the last minute.

“It’s basically quite a difficult show to do in the environment that exists,” Spitting Image‘s executive producer Jon Thoday told The Times.

“Inevitably if you attack tall poppies, people get worried.”

“You can’t really do Spitting Image unless you’re fighting the corner of attacking everybody, but by doing that people just get nervous. They think they want it, but when they’ve got it they just start worrying about it.”

NBC had aired the original version of Spitting Image in the 1980s. The new version will now be shown on Facebook in the US.

Prominent figures depicted in puppet form on the show include Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Michelle Obama.

The show had previously come under fire for including a puppet of 17-year-old Greta Thunberg.

Group director of streaming video on demand at ITV, Reemah Sakaan, defended the inclusion of Thunberg, saying that she would appear in a sketch about climate change.

“It’s a very straightforward joke and is nothing to do with her as an individual,” she told the Broadcasting Press Guild.

Spitting Image creator Roger Law, who has been involved with both the original and the new version, said on The Andrew Marr Show that the rebooted series would be skewering both the left and the right.

He said it was “no fun” to stick to just one side. “There’s lots of ammunition to throw at the other side as well. You go for them all.”

The original Spitting Image series ran from 1984 to 1996 on ITV. The new version is on streaming service BritBox.