‘Spitting Image’ Reboot To Premiere On Facebook In U.S. After Broadcast Deal Stumbles

EXCLUSIVE: The reboot of classic British comedy series Spitting Image is set to premiere on Facebook – a day after its UK debut.

The Avalon-produced puppet parody, which is headed up creatively by co-creator Roger Law and The Simpsons’ Jeff Westbrook as showrunner, will launch on Facebook Premiere at 9PM PT and will be available for 24 hours. It was commissioned in the UK by BritBox, the streaming service run by ITV and BBC Studios.

Deadline understands that a broadcast network deal for the show, which was hastily rewritten to include President Donal Trump’s Coronavirus diagnosis, was close but that fell away around four weeks ago.

The show, which was well liked in many liberal circles in the States, is still expected to find a home for the full season, however, the fact that the comedy is quite close to the bone, featuring a skewering of the Commander in Chief, made it politically tougher to land a deal with one of the major linear broadcast networks.

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'Spitting Image': BritBox Hands Puppet Comedy Reboot Two Seasons As Debut UK Original

Deadline revealed back in 2017 that the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and NBC were all interested in the show, which originally ran for 18 seasons on ITV.

More than 100 puppets were developed by a socially distanced teams of artists including Trump, Barack Obama, Boris Johnson, Beyoncé, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Joe Biden, Oprah Winfrey, RuPaul, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and a number of members of the British royal family.

Writers on the show include: Al Murray, Bert Tyler-Moore & George Jeffrie, Bill Odenkirk, Brona C. Titley, David X. Cohen, Gemma Arrowsmith, Jason Hazeley & Nico Tatarowicz, Karl Minns, Keisha Zollar, Laura Major, Matt Forde, Patric Verrone, Phil Wang, Richard Herring, Sophie Duker and Travis Jay.

The show is ultra-topical with scripts being written and new puppets made as close to each episode as possible. Its influence on popular culture and television has been widespread. French comedy Les Guignols, which has been remade by Fox as Let’s Be Real with Robert Smigel, was originally inspired by Spitting Image in the 1980s.

The show features puppet caricatures of celebrities and politicians and in the 1980s and early 1990s was famous for featuring the likes of Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher. A U.S. pilot was produced by the Spitting Image team in 1986 for NBC — Spitting Image: Down and Out in the White House narrated by Only Fools and Horses star David Jason — but it was never picked up to series.

 

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