A couple of months ago, TVScoop was lucky enough to speak to Chris Barrie, star of Red Dwarf, and voice actor on ITV’s iconic Sunday night comedy, Spitting Image. The obvious question to ask, of course, was whether the show, or one similar, could ever return to our screens now that our politicians all seem to melt into one, dull, homogeneous being. He could see the potential, and so too could ITV, clearly, as Headcases is essentially an updated version of Spitting Image, with computer generated characters, as opposed to the classic puppets.
The show has been created by Henry Naylor, head writer for Spitting Image, so it’s obvious that this really is considered Spitting Image 2.0, as we’ve dubbed it. The show started on a vaguely positive note, with French president Sarcozy singing and dancing along to Mr Bombastic, but I have to say that the level didn’t ever really rise much higher than that, and apart from the odd smile, none of the sketches had a massive affect on me.
That’s not to say that this isn’t a laudable idea, and I was pleased to see that the viewers were never patronised – we were expected to be aware of all of the politicians they lampooned, such as Alistair Darling and Ed Balls, without any explanation. It’s also fabulous that the show is so up to date; BA’s Terminal 5 was mentioned, and Heather Mills – cast as Medusa – kept going on about having to fly B-class. The best sketches came when different news stories were brought together, such as Heather Mills saying that MPs should be asking for *more* money for their kitchens, not less: “£5000 for a kitchen? What kind of B-class hovel are they living in?!” Sometimes, the physicality of the characters they created was good enough to entertain, such as with Madonna and Victoria Beckham.
But it has to be said that some of the satire was achingly obvious, such as casting Cameron as top-hat wearing toff, and the having the Princes William and Harry trying to be ‘down with the kids’. A lot of the sketches really missed the mark, and the ones that worked weren’t really enough to save the show overall. But as I said, the idea for the programme is still a good one, and I’ll be watching to see how the show progresses, as its up-to-date nature means that they will be able to chart which sketches work, and which should be ditched.