Spitting Image 2020: when the new series is on Britbox - and all the new puppets including Piers Morgan, Greta Thunberg and Boris Johnson

(Photos: BBC)(Photos: BBC)
(Photos: BBC)
Ahead of the new show’s broadcast, the creators have been forced to deny that puppets depicting black celebs are racist

Satirical puppet show Spitting Image is coming back after 24 years away from TV screens.

Famous for its caricatures of public figures from the 1980s and 90s, this time around, political figures such as Donald Trump and Prince Harry will be in the firing line.

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The once-controversial programme will be launched on the BritBox streaming service this weekend, and is the first BBC commission for the ITV-run service.

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Here's everything you need to know:

What is Spitting Image?

At the height of its popularity, Spitting Image pulled in 15 million viewers and was nominated for nine BAFTAs (it won four) and four Emmys.

The programme's most famous caricatures were those of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her successor, John Major.

The series was axed in 1996, due to declining audience numbers, but it has been given a new lease of life during a similarly confusing political time.

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It's unlikely the new version of the show will reach the same heights as the original, as BritBox is only available to an audience which currently numbers fewer than 600,000 households.

However, the programme makers will be introducing viewers to a “global” cast of latex characters designed to help sell the show to an international audience.

Why is it being brought back now?

In a statement, the programme makers said: "With the world getting smaller and more turbulent, the time couldn't be more appropriate for an iconic British satirical take on global events."

ITV director of television Kevin Lygo said he was "thrilled" to be able to provide the chance for "British creativity to truly run wild".

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Co-creator, Roger Law - who is on board as executive producer for the new show - said: "I've refused to resuscitate Spitting Image for years but when my pension ran out and my palm was crossed with silver what could an old man do?

"The new Spitting Image will be global through a uniquely British eye, it will be more outrageous, audacious and salacious than the previous incarnation."

Who will be featured this time around?

The new series will mimic global figures, such as Vladamir Putin and Bernie Sanders, as well as politicians closer to home, from Boris Johnson to Dominic Cummings.

Celebrities like Adele, Kim Kardashian, Barack Obama, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jurgen Klopp, Kanye West, and young activist Greta Thunberg (who will be portrayed as a weather presenter) will also be transformed from public figures into satirical puppets.

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Ahead of the show's return, a number of puppets from the series have been shared.

Spitting Image has revealed its Prince Andrew, Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings, with the Prime Minister's puppet sporting a mass of spiky blonde hair, while Mr Cummings is seen in his trademark hoodie.

Why are people complaining about it?

Even ahead of the new show’s broadcast, the satirical series has been ruffling feathers.

Bosses behind the show have already had to defend the inclusion of Greta Thunberg as a target of the programme’s wit, with some saying it is unfair of BritBox to pick on the 17-year-old.

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Reemah Sakaan, group director of SVoD at ITV, said the activists depiction is “nothing to do with her as an individual,” and said “if the show isn't stirring controversy, it's probably not doing what it set out to do or being true to its origins.”

Roger Law was recently forced to deny claims that the puppets depicting black people were racist, an issue made all the more prescient by the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations around the world.

"People sit around looking for things to complain about, and I do big noses and big ears,” he said. “It's personal - it's not a racist thing.”

Director of television at ITV Kevin Lygo has said that meetings were held ahead of production to discuss issues around depicting black celebrities in puppet form.

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"We discussed with the writer and the producers about how to portray black people as viciously caricatured puppets,” he said.

"What is OK? What is not OK? Some of the answers are unclear, it is difficult, everybody is trying their best."

When can I see it?

The revived Spitting Image will be available to watch through BritBox as of Saturday 3 October.

New episodes will be made available weekly for 10 weeks.

How to get Britbox

Britbox launched in late-2019,a streaming venture between ITV and the BBC that hoped to rival Netflix.

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Shows including Gavin & Stacey, Love Island, Downton Abbey and Broadchurch are among the most popular offerings available on BritBox.

However, shows will not be available until after they have been taken down from free catch-up services iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4.

It is priced at £5.99 a month, or £59.99 for the year. A free, seven-day trial is available for new subsribers.

You can sign up be heading to the website.