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Cambridge University Library


The first objects from the Spitting Image archive have gone on display in the Entrance Hall of Cambridge University Library – following its handover from series co-creator Roger Law in November.

The small display of 11 objects across two small exhibition cases features a Margaret Thatcher Toby Jug, scripts for the unbroadcast British pilot episode (1983), the unmade US pilot (1985) – as well as caricatures of 1980s celebrities who all featured in the BAFTA and Emmy-winning show.

The caricatures include those of Frank Bruno, Prince Philip and 1984 Olympic gold medallist Jayne Torvill (of Torvill and Dean fame).

Dr Chris Burgess, Head of Exhibitions and Public Programmes, said: “The Spitting Image archive deposited at Cambridge University Library demonstrates how the programme was about much more than politics. Attacks on the Royal Family arguably marked a new chance in society’s relationship with the royals, while celebrities and sports stars were also considered fair game for the show’s savage satire.

“This small exhibition in our Entrance Hall is hopefully a little taste of what’s to come as we receive the remainder of Roger’s unique archive over the coming months.”

Spitting Image launched the career of innumerable actors, satirists and voiceover artists who went on to become household names after their work on the show. Harry Enfield, Steve Coogan, Paul Whitehouse, Alistair McGowan, Ian Hislop, John Sessions and Debra Stephenson all worked on the programme during its long run for Central Independent Television, as did Red Dwarf creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.

At its peak, it reached an audience of 15 million.

Other sections of the archive to be transferred to the Library over the coming months include puppets of Mikhail Gorbachev and Alan Bennett (which will join the puppet of Margaret Thatcher already deposited at the Library), thousands of images from the show, hundreds of video tapes, and moulds for the puppets and their teeth.

The archive also contains books, board games and files of complaints from irate viewers.

The Library will now begin fundraising for cataloguing and conservation work so that the archive, which also includes awards, posters, drawings and boxes of merchandise, can be opened as widely as possible to academics and researchers, as well as being shared with the wider public through events, talks and exhibitions.

Roger Law, who co-created Spitting Image with Peter Fluck said at the archive’s handover: “Spitting Image undermined an entire generation’s respect for authority and institutions. One thing I’m proud of is that everyone who watched the show, including children, knew exactly who was running the country. Who knows that now?”

The Entrance Hall display of Spitting Image material will remain on public view until December 22, 2018.