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Spitting Image Turns 30 -- Here are Our Five Favourite Moments

By Gary Cutlack on at

If you're a bit old, you might remember Sundays in the 1980s. They weren't very good. Everything was closed. They were usually quite foggy as Morrissey once accurately pointed out, plus the TV was full of sport, pages from Ceefax and Bullseye. The highlight was 10.00pm and the coming of Spitting Image, the first time anyone had ever laughed on a Sunday.

It ended in 1996, bringing Sunday fun to an end. But that was OK as by 1996 we were starting to get the internet. Which is where Spitting Image lives on...

Bonkers boxer Chris Eubank was, like Spitting Image, both a loved and hated figure in the UK around the turn of the 1990s. The prickly boxer already had an enjoyably silly voice of his own, one that was perfectly mocked by impressionist Alistair McGowan. Eubank said in documentary Best Ever Spitting Image that he'd like to throttle whoever created his caricature. So that was a job well done. (Skip to the 1:17 mark if the player doesn't do it automatically).

Pushing the mocking of the afflicted into even more uncomfortable territory was the puppet for Labour MP Roy Hattersley. Hattersley also had a bit of a lisp, which was translated into a wet-lipped, gobbing monster that sprayed saliva everywhere he went. You'd struggle to get away with being that mean about someone on TV these days. Apart from David Cameron. (Skip to the 3:22 mark if the player doesn't do it automatically).

Alongside the meanness, there was room for proper politics on the odd occasion, as this say-what-everyone-thinks piece with daddy George Bush illustrates.

And John Major. Poor John Major. Spitting Image properly did him in, portraying him as a literally grey man and his chum Kenneth Baker as a slug. An actual slug. Can you imagine how they'd portray Boris Johnson now? He'd be a hot air balloon with snakes for hair, dragging a 100-metre penis along behind him.

And of course there was this. An actual number one record, back in the days when number one records were generated by people buying records instead of Asian click farms F5-ing Spotify and YouTube. Spitting Image was a phenomenon. Turned a bit shit at the end and you had to switch it off quickly because Melvin Bragg usually came on afterwards to talk about art, but a phenomenon for most of its time.