Spitting Image has defended its decision to use a puppet of environmental activist Greta Thunberg after receiving a torrent of backlash.
The political satire show returns this week after 24 years with a fresh batch of caricatured famous faces unveiled, including Piers Morgan, Meghan Markle, Kanye West, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson.
Creators have already come in for fierce criticism online for lampooning the Swedish teenager, who will portray a weathergirl warning about the heat.
But bosses of Britbox, which is where the reboot of the satirical puppet show will launch, argued she was fair game.
Reemah Sakaan, group director of SVoD at ITV, told Broadcasting Press Guild: “It’s a very straightforward joke and is nothing to do with her as an individual.”
The new 10-part series, which will air on Saturday October 3, is set to be the ‘rudest’ ever because it’s now on a subscription platform.
Spitting Image was watched by 15 million viewers in its heyday and at £300,000 an episode, it was TV’s most expensive light-entertainment show.
In its 12 years on our screens in the 80s and 90s, it mocked politicians, the royals, sport stars, musicians and TV presenters.
As the show prepares to hit screens this weekend, we take a look back at some of Spitting Image’s most controversial characters and moments:
Rangers legend Gazza was lampooned in a song at the end of Series 8 with a puppet that would frequently burst into tears.
The Gazza Song – or Cry, Gazza, Cry – references the incident that arose during the World Cup semi-final in 1990, when the footballer famously shed a tear after he was given a yellow card by the referee, which meant that he couldn’t play in the final if they won.
The song contains many characters singing along, including Gazza, Margaret Thatcher and some of the England team at the time.
The lyrics go: “Cry, Gazza, Cry/ You can do it if you try/ Shed a tear for England/ Squirts out of from your eye”.
Spitting Image’s most famous puppet was that of Margaret Thatcher, who wore a man’s suit and smoked a cigar in the show.
She is also one of the most frequently-appearing characters, making some form of cameo in virtually every episode.
Throughout the series she was remade to appear more evil and unhinged, treating her Cabinet with contempt.
One famous sketch saw the Prime Minister feed the Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson to a pit of crocodiles hidden under a Number 10 seat.
The Queen was often lampooned in the series, portrayed with a headscarf and CND badge.
One of the most famous sketches to feature the royals appeared after Prince William was born, when the Queen broke a bottle of champagne over his head to ‘christen him’.
Another famous scene showed the Queen and Prince Philip sitting in their palace while they learn a recession has robbed them of all their wealth.
Philip at first says ‘recession, what recession?’ before hearing that their properties will be repossessed and they will be forced to live in a council flat.
Meanwhile, the Queen Mother was portrayed with a Birmingham accent, drank gin, carried the Racing Post and did outrageous things that other members of the Royal Family wouldn’t dare do.
Saddam Hussein became a regular character in later series following the first Gulf War.
He was portrayed as being completely evil, first trying to be like Richard Briers.
His character would often order ridiculous demands, including making his aides hang upside down in women’s clothes and announce ‘darling, I’m home’ when addressing him.
Tony Blair was regularly pictured with a huge permanent smile and was often portrayed as flamboyant, theatrical ans a scatterbrain with a short attention span.
Before his ascension to Labour Leader, Blair was portrayed as a schoolboy in uniform attempting to be taken seriously and insisting he was the leader.
In the final episode, he was seen in front of his cabinet after an election victory boasting that he was ‘the clever one’.
A grotesque characterisation of Prince Andrew before he was married to Sarah Ferguson is said to have offended the Queen.
His puppet was pictured in an annual lying naked with nothing but two pounds of Cumberland sausage as a prop.
Pope John Paul II
Not even religion was sacred to Spitting Image. At first, Pope John Paul II was portrayed as a grumpy, conservative man speaking in ‘Pig Latin’.
In later episodes he was depicted as some kind of womaniser rock star.
The church leader wore sunglasses, played guitar and wore jeans.
He spoke with an American accent and used phrases like “Yo” and “Hey man” – and even claimed to be an atheist.
Reagan, referred to in the show by his real-life nickname ‘Ronnie’, was portrayed as a trigger-happy president who would declare war on any country he saw as a threat.
He was also depicted as being useless without his aides, requiring constant supervision to save him from eating out the fishbowl or jabbing himself in the face with a fork.
It was often alluded that he was having a secret love affair with Margaret Thatcher.