British animated satire series that ran from 2001 to 2004. Often considered the Spiritual Successor
of Spitting Image
and had many parallels with Dead Ringers
due to sharing many voice actors.
About 60% of the material was about celebrities while the rest was about politics, a notable shift away from the latter relative to Spitting Image
which perhaps tells us something about how Britain has changed.
Major recurring characters/settings (heralded by theme tunes) included:Tony Blair and the Cabinet
: Blair as a power-mad control freak with a Napoleon Complex
, while Gordon Brown is The Starscream
. Other ministers commonly appearing included John Prescott (a vehicle for fat jokes), Robin Cook (The Unintelligible
) and David Blunkett.George Bush in the White House
: Bush oscillates between Psychopathic Manchild
and innocently Too Dumb to Live
, while a moustached (and unnamed) General tries to get him under control with the aid of a hand puppet called Professor Leibstrom. Recycled a lot of 'stupid president' jokes from 80s Spitting Image
sketches about Reagan, but left the direct references to politics out, instead dumbing Bush down as somewhat of Homer Simpson clone.Saddam Hussein
: Prior to the war in Iraq, there were a series of sketches featuring Saddam hiding his weapons of mass destruction from the UN inspectors (of course, that was when even broadly anti-war satirists assumed he had
any...) Earlier series had Osama Bin Laden being frustrated by the Taliban's lack of military technology.The Royal Family
: Mostly jokes about Prince Charles trying to take the throne and about Princes William and Harry's youthful mishaps. In one sketch, Harry brings back some Australians after having gone backpacking there and they proceed to take over the palace.Posh and Becks
: Primarily another vehicle for Too Dumb to Live
:The England national side:
Featuring Beckham again, Wayne Rooney, manager Sven Goran Erikson and so forth.
There were also a great number of one-off sketches. In the vein of Private Eye
style humour, a lot of these involved crossing over two news stories or parodying a show by
referencing current political issues. For example, there was a parody of The Simpsons
called "The Johnsons" (about Boris Johnson
Tropes used include:
- Badass Moustache: The general, who entertains Bush with sock puppets.
- Black Comedy and Crosses the Line Twice (it's a lot easier to get away with things when it's animation)
- British Teeth: Tony Blair.
- Butt Monkey: George Bush Jr, Posh and David Beckham, John Prescott, Prince Charles, Sarah Ferguson,... In sharp contrast to Spitting Image Queen Elizabeth II gets off the best. Hardly any jokes show her in an unsympathetic light.
- Cute Kitten: One sketch had Saddam attempting to defend against the US by surrounding himself and important military targets with kittens.
- Facial Profiling (Went rather far with it, using the old-fashioned bright yellow skin, buck teeth and slitty eyes for Chinese people, for instance)
- Fat Comic Relief: John Prescott. It's the only joke the makers could come up with.
- Gilligan Cut
- Man Child: George W. Bush is depicted this way.
- Moonwalk Dance: One gag, referencing Michael's baby bungling incident in 2002, had Jackson teaching his infant to moonwalk from one end of a window to another across the street by tightrope walking over a washing cord.
- Shallow Parody: The series tried to be a vicious satire of many celebrities, but most of the time the jokes are more general jokes about obesity, stupidity, wealth,... that aren't tied in to actual current events surrounding these famous people. Bush is assisted by a moustached general, for instance, who has no real-life counterpart and was just made up for the show. The only reason this character exists is to become frustrated whenever Bush says or does something stupid. And even those stupidities have nothing whatsoever to do with his real-life politics. For instance: Bush transforms the White House into a jumping castle, then breaks it and starts to cry. End of sketch.
- The Starscream (Brown to Blair and Prince Charles to the Queen)
- Too Dumb to Live (Bush, Posh and Becks)
- Viewers Are Morons: This show really misses the sharp, edgy satire Spitting Image had. Instead the main focus is mostly on media celebrities and does nothing else besides poking fun at their physical features and supposed lack of intelligence or dignity. Politics are touched briefly and even when they are addressed it's again more about their physical features than their actual politics. See also the review on top of this page.