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"We threw out three whole scripts!": The struggle to write satirical Spitting Image play in time of "chaotic" politics

On the journey to making a Spitting Image show for the Birmingham Rep, the creators had to throw away three whole scripts.

The Royal Family in Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image Saves The World
The Royal Family in Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image Saves The World

When the show was first announced last year, it was entitled "Boris: The Liar King", and featured Boris Johnson's puppet emblazoned upon the theatrical poster for The Lion King.

At the time, who could have thought there would be a bigger political scandal in the UK than a Prime Minister who broke his own lockdown laws?

Artistic director of the Rep and director and co-creator of the show, Sean Foley, said: "Obviously with satirical comedy you can't feel outdated.

"Me, Al Murray, and Matt Forde had written the whole script. We would have been the last people in the country who wanted Boris Johnson to stay in Downing Street. When he left, we had to throw the script away and start again."

The creators then thought about using the Queen as the focal point for their next script, but the UK's longest-serving monarch died in September. Another script, gone.

And don't forget the era of Liz Truss, who was in office just 44 days before resigning as Prime Minister, amid crashing financial markets and tanking polls.

"Here's hoping we make it to opening night and it's not drastically out of date," Sean laughed. "Trying to write a satirical comedy over the last six months has been so chaotic."

Harry and Meghan in Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image Saves The World
Donald Trump in Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image Saves The World

Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image Saves the World, now focuses on a cast of celebrities who are thrown together as Tom Cruise is tasked by King Charles with saving Great Britain.

Greta Thunberg duets with Stormzy as Putin and Xi Jinping watch on from their premium seats in the stalls. That's not forgetting Taylor Swift, Elon Musk, and Tyson Fury, as well as current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Royal Family outcasts Harry and Meghan.

The BAFTA and Emmy award-winning satirical Spitting Image television series originally ran for 18 series between 1984 and 1996, and was watched by over 15 million viewers.

It recently made a return to TV on BritBox, where across official social media channels, Spitting Image content has been hugely popular with over 200 million views globally, three number 1 trending videos on YouTube and achieved critical praise across the political divide.

Tom Cruise in Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image Saves The World
Stormzy and Tom Cruise in Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image Saves The World

"The Spitting Image puppets are iconic," Sean said. "They're so extraordinary and charismatic on stage, I think they're even more powerful on stage than they are on the TV.

"We have one or two guest stars from the original series, and we're working with the original co-creator Roger Law. I was an avid watcher of the original Spitting Image, so that was the attraction for me in making this show.

"It was a huge part of my childhood and late teens. It was of course catty and outrageous but so funny. To be premiering this theatrical extravaganza in Birmingham, the home of the original ground-breaking television series, is a wonderful thrill."

Co-creator Matt Forde said: "We are living through an insane, abnormal, infuriating period, so the timing of this show couldn't be better. It's vital that we see our leaders lampooned with cutting satire and yes, whacked over the head with a big stick."

"Satire is not new, it's been here forever," Sean added. "Fools used to be able to take the mick out of Kings. It's the function of comedy in society to pay scrutiny to those who are in power."

Spitting Image is at Birmingham Rep from February 1 - Saturday, March 11. For more information and to book tickets go to, call 0121 236 4455, or visit the box office during opening hours.

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