03 October 2020 04:32

But in the reanimated corpse of Spitting Image, it’s struggling a bit.

Satire is not dead. But in the reanimated corpse of Spitting Image, it's struggling a bit. That's not the fault of the programme, but of the times we live in. How can you lampoon a character as patently ludicrous as Donald Trump? How to mock the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when to do so risks those involved being cancelled for all eternity?

Spitting Image: lampooning characters who are already patently ludicrous proves mighty hard

And what jokes can you make about the affairs of the Duke of York without feeling the force of Buckingham Palace's very busy lawyers? It's far from being a dud. The genius of the original series was its ability to boil down a politician into one indelible image, a grey John Major pushing peas around his plate, Norman Tebbit as a leather-jacketed bovver boy, diddy David Steel in David Owen's pocket. When the new show works, it is along these lines. Dominic Cummings is an alien overlord with zero human traits. When he spots the Prime Minister's newborn son in a pram, he says: "So this is what you call a baby? It looks delicious. May I eat it?" Mr Johnson (portrayed here as a buffoon who disappears at the first sign of difficulty) says, ah, well, ah, no. "If I did, would you fire me?" asks Cummings. "I don't think that's necessary," a cowardly Mr Johnson replies.