24 January 2011

Spitting Image

Peter Fluck and Roger Law met at the Cambridge School of Art many moons ago. As time went on, the pair began producing "sculpted caricatures" for outlets such as the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

The venture was not very profitable, but then, in 1981, Fluck and Law produced caricatures of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer for the Not The Nine O'Clock News spoof book Not The Royal Wedding.

Infamy beckoned!

From the Sunday Mirror, June 28, 1981.

"We are not amused!" said the general public, unused to such "disgusting" disrespect.

I am amazed that these sadistic caricatures of Prince Charles and Lady Diana were allowed to appear in the Sunday Mirror.

Not only were they in atrociously bad taste but they were intensely cruel as well, since the Royal couple are unable to retaliate.

I have a sense of humour, but I wouldn't put this new book in my toilet.

I found the feature quite disgusting, especially the models by Fluck and Law. Would they want models of themselves to look like this? Nor do I agree that the Not The Nine O'Clock people are the BBC's top comedy team.

I think the BBC's "top comedy team" should be mentally examined.

1981 was also the year that Martin Lambie-Nairn invited Fluck and Law to lunch. A graphic designer at London Weekend Television, Lambie-Nairn thought a political TV programme which used puppets or animation would be a good investment. He offered to front Fluck and Law the capital for a pilot episode...

Some right Royal egg cups... from the Daily Mirror's Peter Tory column, June 11, 1982:

Making sport of Prince Charles' ears is enormous fun. But members of the Royal Family who come across these items on their friends' mantlepieces might be slightly alarmed by the figure in the middle.

What would happen if the mite, depicted here by Cambridge artists Peter Fluck and Roger Law, really turned out to look so gruesome? The poor thing would probably have to spend its days locked away in a dungeon at Glamis Castle.

Daily Mirror, December 31, 1983. Looking forward to 1984 - and the debut of Spitting Image. Said Jon Blair, producer: "We hope to have a Royal spot every week, with the Queen and Margaret Thatcher discussing world affairs.

"We scan the papers every day to keep our list of characters up to date."

From the Daily Mirror, June 16, 1984.

The Queen is not amused, but Prince Phillip jokes "This is me, not one of those puppets!"

Spitting Image was incredibly anarchic by the standards of the 1980s - blood thirsty, brutal satire of a kind never seen before. It left audiences gasping with outrage - or delight. In a show filled with highlights in its heyday, Steve Nallon's voice of Mrs Thatcher still stands out in my mind. 1985 saw the publication of The Appallingly Disrespectful Spitting Image Book. On the cover, Norman Tebbit was getting a real eyeful...

Inside, Mrs Thatcher was getting to grips with the unemployment situation...

... and Nouvelle Cuisine for the disadvantaged was covered, courtesy of Tom King, Employment Minister - amongst many other delights.

The "Nouvelle Cuisine" concept had been around for a little while (although we commoners had never heard of it), and in the desperate-to-be-posh mid-80s, fancy restaurants up and down the land saw the chance to make a killing - serving up hardly anything for exorbitant prices.

The Spitting Image book puts it best:

Nouvelle cuisine is a posh and expensive way of not having very much to eat.

A rip off, pure and simple, if you ask me.

Some politicians and celebrities claimed to enjoy the "fame" of being selected to be caricatured on Spitting Image. Michael Heseltine offered to buy his puppet for £2,500 - and eventually upped his offer to £7,500. "To whom shall I may the cheque payable?" he asked.

"The Labour Party," came the reply.

Exit Mr Heseltine - in something of a strop.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seemed absolutely incredible at the time - even the Queen Mother wasn't safe! "HOW COULD THEY DO THAT?!" people cried. I, for one, was really glad they did!