Satira Virulenta del Látex (Spitting Image Giveaway Special, Part 2)

image Slightly later than we'd envisioned due to circumstance, here's the second of our Spitting Image specials. Don't forget, thanks to our excellent chums at VoucherCodes.co.uk, you can walk away with (have sent to you in the post) a DVD box set of the first seven series of the show. Full details at the end of this blog post.

Before we stick our hand up the back of Part Two, a quick 'thank you' to a couple of people for filling in a few of the gaps in our great big rubbery heads. First up, TV Cream's Steve Williams for pointing out what was actually going on with the studio audience in the first 1.4 episodes of the show. Steve?
it's - gasp! - canned laughter. The book Tooth and Claw about the making of the series said that they dubbed it on the first show by order of Central, but the second show ran way over schedule and I think they were still editing part two while part one was actually on the telly, hence the rather haphazard laughter. But that show meant they were able to convince Central it wasn't required, and they never used it again.
Funnily enough, the copy of Tooth & Claw we'd ordered last week from an eBay seller arrived this very morning. Extra thanks to Steve for pointing out the above, as the flipping book doesn't have an index, meaning we'd have had to spend ages going through the it trying to find that out. We can't help but think the Spitting team quite deliberately used the sound of a distinctly unimpressed studio audience, to help them get their own way. That's an achievement in itself, as canned laughter tapes containing such a meagre smattering of giggles can't be easy to find. Of course, when Rubbish 3 Sponsor Bumper Stand-Up Bloke did his bits in front of a similarly unimpressed pretend audience on Channel Four's comedy output for much of this year, it would have been from a downloaded clip, which would be much easier to get hold of.

Our second helping of thanks goes to Matthew Rudd (of the reliably splendid Does That Make Sense?), for pointing out that the third escapee from Some Of Our Puppets Are Missing was of course Leonard "To Be Or Not To Be, That Is... Illogical, Captain" Nimoy. Of course. Bluh. Thanks Steve and Matthew. (Ooh, and also thanks to the entrants so far.)

So, what aspect of moulded cocksnookery are we looking at today? Well, one of our favourite facts about the show is the way a slew of foreign broadcasters soon jumped on the idea soon after the show premièred in the UK. With that in mind, what could be more fun than taking a look at some of those? Quite a lot of things, but we're going to do it anyway. Starting off with a trip to

ARGENTINA ("Kanal K")



Pronounced "Canal Car", and featuring puppets with cloth hands, as opposed to the 'proper' latex hands we all remember from Spitting Image. That's not doing it right. When we saw that the people behind "I'm On Setanta Sports/Special 1 TV" were using the 'cloth hands' method on their puppets, it took a lot for them to win us over (specifically the subliminal shots of Jose in a Liverpool shirt around the time it looked like Rafa Benitez was getting the boot. No, first time round). Cloth hands isn't doing it properly. Sure, it might be cheaper, more convenient and more comfortable for the puppeteer, but it's still not right. Anyway, as you might have guessed, we don't have a bloody clue what's going on there, as it's all in Spanish, so we're wittering on about something inconsequential.

What we do know is that Kanal K was aired by Canal 13 in the early 1990s, only to be taken off the air (officially) after the show ran with a sketch where the puppet The Pope said "va fangulo" (Italian for "fuck you"), or (reputedly) after repeated criticism of former President Carlos Saúl Menem. Either way, the clips of the show we can find on YouTube don't make much sense to us.

AUSTRALIA ("Rubbery Figures")



After learning that Rubbery Figures came from the same stable as Aussie sketch show Fast Forward, we had quite high hopes for this, especially when we saw a YouTube clip showing us their take on the Iron Lady (see above). Sadly, as you'll probably have noticed if you've glanced at the above clip, it's not very good. Firstly, the title music sounds (to our ears) like an outtake session for one of the 'jaunty, relax, so we're all going to die, so what' music stabs from the Protect & Survive video (brr). The main thing is, it's all done very cheaply indeed. Now, it seems this is deliberately so - the captions are made from felt tip, and it seems for much of its life Rubbery Figures was a segment in another show, but it does make the accompanying humour seem rather cheap too. Two bonus points for the John Howard puppet making a cameo appearance in an episode of The Micallef P(r)ogram(me), however.

And after all that, we remembered that Full Frontal was the really good Aussie sketch comedy we were thinking of, not Fast Forward. Fast Forward was rubbish. And BrokenTV's fourteenth law of television dictates that felt-tipped captions are only any good when they're done by Bob Godfrey.

GERMANY ("Hurra Deutschland")



Best title of the lot, we think, what with it translating as "Hurrah Germany".Hurrah! The puppets are much more identifiable as being from a Spitting Image spin-off, too, with properly burly torsos and faces capable of more than one expression. We can't really speak for the humour, as the pitiful amount of German we know was gleaned from MTV Europe ad breaks circa 1993. We suspect the clip here could well be the Teutonic adaptation of the John and Norma Major 'peas' skits that everyone got a bit bored of in the early 1990s over here.

The show ran in its original guise from 1987 to 1991, and the programme was later resurrected in 2003 under a title which translates as "Hurrah Germany - Now more than ever!", though sadly it seems to have been a bit '2DTV', and was soon forgotten.

SPAIN ("Las noticias del guiñol")



Now you're talking. One of the few examples of the show still going (as it has since 1995, though it was more directly inspired by the French version of Spitting Image, "Les Guignols de l'info"), this is hosted by a latex take on former Liverpool and Eire striker Michael Robinson, who as everyone knows is now a well-known. TV personality in Spain, having ended his football career there (with Osasuna), and liking it so much he stayed there. Even better, the clip we've found here is from their World Cup 2006 show (or shows), and includes interviews with David Beckham, Fernando Torres, The Sun (centre of solar system, rather than tabloid), and a popular Spanish politician (we think) as Homer Simpson.

We even think we understand some of the jokes. Beckham is flogging cologne, The Sun is there over something to do with the weather at Germany 2006, while (Spanish PM) José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and (opposition leader) Mariano Rajoy are busily trying to outdo each other with their feverish support for the Spanish national side. Now, if only everyone else had been considerate enough to make their programmes all about football, we'd be sorted.

SWEDEN ("Riksorganet")



Another one with 'proper' Spitting Image puppets. Sadly, despite extensive research (ahem) we can't find out much about it. i.e. there's no Wikipedia page for it.

FINLAND ("The Autocrats")



While this isn't a direct spin-off from Spitting Image, it's probably interesting enough to include here. The Autocrats is more of sitcom in feel, taking the viewer behind the scenes of Finnish politics. No, wait, come back. It's all in quite impressive CGI, especially so considering the show has been running for over 230 episodes since 2001. There are generally between thirty and forty episodes produced every year. That's a lot of CGI.

Oh right, we haven't got to the bit that's interesting yet. Well, in 2003, an episode was made entirely in English. Named "Operation ESC", it sees Tony Blair, George W Bush and Vladimir Putin up to some international shenanigans, with The Autocrats team determined to intervene, or at least seem fleetingly relevant. And that's the first part of it up there. As we say, quite interesting, if not exactly a laugh riot. Hey, we said 'interesting', not 'funny'. Well, we've never watched a Finnish CGI sitcom before now.



Thus ends our fleeting trip around the World Of Puppet-Based Satire, but stay tuned for the third and final part of our Super Rubber Giveaway Trilogy. Now, a quick reiteration of some actual interesting stuff., and nothing to do with Finnish politics In association with VoucherCodes.co.uk, we’re still giving away an excellent DVD BOX SET of the FIRST SEVEN imageSERIES of Spitting Image, worth SIXTY QUID, and there's still time to enter our competition.

“Hang on, Voucher-what-dot-co-dot-where?”

Look, we told you this the other day.

"Sorry, I wasn't paying attention then.”

Tch. Try harder, this time. VoucherCodes.co.uk brings together the best voucher codes, 2-for-1 restaurant vouchers, printable vouchers, deals and sales for hundreds of leading online stores to help save you more money. You can pick up a Lovefilm Discount Code, an Amazon Promotional Code or even Sky Offer Codes from the site


“Ah, now you mention it, I do remember. What was it I need to do again?”
 
While it’d be tempting to pose a hugely difficult question about the Chilean version of Spitting Image (Los Toppins, coincidentally) that hardly anyone would know the answer imageto, it’s hugely unlikely VoucherCodes.co.uk would let us keep the box set ourselves, so we may as well ask something more open ended. Namely: which was your favourite Spitting Image puppet, and why? No special criteria, it could just as easily be one of the heavy hitters like Tebbit, Coleman or Gielgud as opposed to the Brett Anderson puppet that appeared once. It could even be the Downing Street cat that talks like Tony Hancock from the last few series, we’re easy. One entry will be chosen at random to win the prize.

“Fair enough. How do I enter?”
 
As we’ll need to actually contact the lucky winner, we’ve had to come up with a bit of a compromise for entering. When it comes to taking part, you’ve got two choices. Choice one: if you’re a Twitter user, leave a comment mentioning your fave Spitting Image character, along with your Twitter username. We can then send you a Direct Message over Twitter if you’re the winner. Choice two: fire off an email containing your entry to us at brokenindustries@gmail.com – that way, we can get in touch if you win. Don’t worry, unlike a lot of online competitions there’s absolutely no chance we’ll pass your email details on to nasty marketing types (partly because we don’t know any, and don’t really want to).

Technically there’s also choice three: post a comment including your email address in the body of said comment, but note that it’ll be openly viewable to everyone, and will probably mean your inbox is subsequently packed with a ton of spam, so it’s not a very good idea. It’s the internet equivalent of sending cash through the post. We’d go with either choice one or two, frankly.

“Is there a list of terms and conditions, like you get in proper competitions?”

Just because we’re a bunch of lackadaisical bumpkins, it doesn’t mean this isn’t a proper competition, you know. All the T’s and the C’s can be found at http://www.vouchercodes.co.uk/competitions, but basically:
* You must be a UK resident aged 18 and over.
* Entries to be made via comment or email (as detailed above).
* The competition starts 5th November 2009, and the closing date is 23.59:59 on Sunday 15th November 2009.
* Only entries received before the specified closing date and time will be submitted into the Competition. eConversions Ltd. accepts no responsibility for lateness, loss or misdirection of entries.
* No purchase is necessary to enter this competition, largely because we don’t sell anything. Maybe we should start selling stuff. If we ever do start selling stuff, you don’t need to pre-order it to enter this competition.
* It is a requirement of the Competition that the entrant has access to the Internet to submit their entry. Bit unfair on the Amish, but there you go.
* Anonymous entries to the Competition will not be accepted.
* The prize will consist of a Spitting Image: Series 1 – 7 Boxset
* No cash alternative is available for the prize. What you can do is just put it on eBay once you’ve won it, or just give it away as a Christmas present.
* The promoter of the competition is: eConversions Ltd., 9 Dallington Street, London, EC1V 0BQ, UK
* Entries are limited to one per person. We’ve got super secret IP address reading powers, you know. And a cricket bat. (Legal notice: we’re joking about the cricket bat.)
* The winner will be selected at random on 16th November and notified by the email within 96 hours.
* The winner's name will be published within 15 days of the Competition’s closing date at: www.vouchercodes.co.uk/competitions.
* Employees (and their relatives) of eConversions Ltd. and other companies associated with the competition are excluded from entry.
“What if I don’t win? How am I supposed to get hold of a box set then? Come on fatty, bet you haven’t thought about that.”

If you miss out on the competition prize, you can always head over to VoucherCodes.co.uk and use an Amazon promotional code to get one at a bargainous discount, of course. Sillychops.

5 comments:

Ben B said...

Rubbery Figures was supposedly awful but it did provide some early writing work for Tony Martin - who is one of, if not my definitive - comedy hero. The similarly terrific Shaun Micallef's writing partner Gary Mccaffrie too.

Tooth and Claw is a tremendous read. I'd kill for an updated version.

Simon said...

The Spanish Beckham looks more like Peter Schmeichel. And Michael Robinson bears a slight resemblance to the Jackie Wilson puppet from the Reet Petite video. Of course, Robinson would always go on in UK press interviews about how British ex-player punditry doesn't work, which makes it surprising to learn he did Ireland games for Setanta (and was on Football Focus the other week despite his Spanish show ending in 2005)

Jason said...

Here's a translation of the beginning bit of the Swedish wiki page for Riksorganet (Organ of the state)

"Riksorganet is a Swedish series of satirical puppet films shown on SVT (that's yer Swedish BBC equivalent) before the 1998 general election. It contained sketches with imitations of contemporary politicians and other known figures of power from within business and media. Riksorganet builds on a concept from the British TV series Spitting Image, which also spread to several other countries"

Then there's an article from Aftonbladet before the premiere: Henrik Widman, the Project Leader for the programme is quoted as saying 'We have consciously chosen to make our puppets more realistic, not as exaggerated as the British. We think it's funnier like that'


Hmm.

Jason said...

One other thing - I've just read through the Effektstudion site, the effects company that made the puppets (and there are some excellent pictures on there of them, plus an English version).

They made the 'Bubbles' fat suit that Matt Lucas wore in Little Britain. Fancy that.

Ian T said...

The French version ("News Puppets") is still going after twenty years: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Guignols_de_l%27info