Some Forty-five years after her mother played Queen Quarantine to Alfie Bass's King Eustace The Useless in Unity Theatre's Politically inspired Pantomime of Babes In The Wood, Louise Gold and company brought that sort of satire to its logical conclusion with Spitting Image. Where, coincidentally, Louise not infrequently voiced and puppeteered The Queen.
After her key contribution on the pilot episodes of Spitting Image, Louise Gold continued to fill the role of Leading Puppeteer for the show’s first season. She ducked out of the second season, to pursue her acting career, but returned for the show’s third season. She seems to have continued on and off on the programme for quite some time, certainly she was still around (and helping to audition puppeteers) at the time of the ninth season.
Spitting Image Itself
Show proper: Started 1984 - Ended 1996, a total of 18 series.
1st Series: First episode screened on Friday 24 (some say 26) February 1984. Last episode 17 June 1984.
3rd Series screened from 12 January 1985 (some say 6 January 1985). Last episode 24th March 1985
9th Series, screened 11 June to 9 July 1989
18th Series: first episode 14 January 1996
Anthoney Asbury (Puppeteered on Series 1, acquired his muscles working on Little Shop Of Horrors, took over puppeteering Mrs Thatcher)
Chris Barrie (Puppeteered on the pilot and Series 1, new to puppetry at the time, stayed with the show till 1990)
Kevin Bradshaw (Puppeteered on Series 1, the Physiotherapist, nowdays known as Kaefan Shaw)
Richard Coombs (another puppeteer who puppeteers left-handed)
Phil Eason (joined for Series 9 and stayed for about 5
years, was auditioned by both Louise Gold and
Alistair Fullarton (Puppeteered on Series 1, specialised in Princess Diana and Ronald Reagan, joined with the pilot)
Louise Gold (Lead puppeteer, was trained by The Muppets, headed the puppeteering team on Series 1, often puppeteered female characters such as The Queen, and in the early days Mrs Thatcher)
Brian Herring (apprentice puppeteer, joined in 1992 – having had no previous experience)
Mark Jefferis (another musical-theatre singer-actor-dancer-turned-puppeteer)
Errol Manoff (credited as a puppeteer for four Series 1 episodes)
Steve Nallon (Puppeteered on Series 1, known as "Head of Eyes", other duties included assistant Ear Wiggler, was new to puppetry at the time)
Martin Oates (trained in German television)
Marty Robinson (American Puppeteer, member of The
Muppets gang - best known for
Richard Robinson (Puppeteered on Series 1, had short arms – was always being told his head was in shot)
John Thirtle (One of the main puppeteers on the programme)
Terry Lee Wright (Puppeteered on Series 1, sometimes known as Terry Lee)
and a special appearance by John Lloyd as a Newspaper reader
Anthony Asbury (mainly early days, Characters include: The Pope and John McEnroe)
Chris Barrie (Characters include: Ronald Reagan,
Prince Charles, Sir Kenneth Newman, Sir John Gielgud, Brian Walden, Neil
Kinnock, David Owen, Prince Andrew, Ritchie Benaud,
Patrick Booth (backing singer)
Steve Brown (backing singer)
Mary Cassidy (backing singer)
Jimmy Chambers (backing singer)
Phil Cornwell (got his audition via ringing up every cabaret club listed in Time Out)
Jon Culshaw (voice artiste from 1994-1996)
Nick Curtis (backing singer)
Stephanie De Sykes (backing singer)
Rick Driscoll (backing singer)
Lance Ellington (backing singer)
Harry Enfield (Characters include: David Steel, Leon
Britain, Juan Carlos of
Brian Engel (backing singer)
Mike Fenton Stevens (mainly worked as a singer, including on The Chicken Song)
Alistar Fullerton (mainly in early days, Characters include: David Steel)
Jon Glover (Characters include: Prince Phillip, Tony
Louise Gold (Characters include: HM Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana, Tatum O’Neil, Queen Victoria/Nurse to retired-Prime Ministers, Nancy Reagan, and sometimes Mary Whitehouse)
Ronnie Golden (sometime worked as a singer)
Clive Griffin (backing singer)
Mitch Hiller (backing singer)
Sonia Jones (sometimes worked as a singer, characters include Kylie Minogue)
Carol Kenyon (backing singer)
Steve Lange (backing singer)
Julian Littlman (backing singer)
Gary Martin (backing singer)
Jessica Martin (Characters include: HM Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana, Sarah Duchess Of York)
Alistair McGowan (Characters include: Tony Blair)
Steve Nallon (Characters include: Mrs Thatcher, David Attenborough, the Pope, Roy Hattersley - A tub of Lard, Shirley Williams, Denis Healey, The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, and Enoch Powell)
Phil Nice (backing singer)
Tessa Niles (backing singer)
Phillip Pope (Sometimes worked as a singer, characters include Perry Como)
Jan Ravens (Characters include: Prince William, Prince Harry, Princess Diana and Mary Whitehouse)
Enn Reitel (Characters include: Donald Sinden, Vincent Price, Dustin Hoffman, Lester Piggott, Leonard Nimoy, and Richard Nixon)
Kate Robbins (Characters include: Numerous Royals especially the Duchess Of York, also a lead vocalist on The Chicken Song)
Maggie Ryder (backing singer)
Scobie Ryder (backing singer)
John Sessions (Characters include: Casper Weinberger, Jonathan Miller, Peter O’Toole, Pete Townsend, and Laurence Olivier)
James Simpson (backing singer)
Debbie Stephenson / Debra Stephenson
Miriam Stockley (backing singer)
John Thompson - possibly spelt John Tomson (see Cold Feet)
Linda Taylor (backing singer)
Rachel Taylor (backing singer)
Carl Wayne (backing singer)
Suzie Webb (backing singer)
Tim Whitnall (sometimes worked as a singer)
and special appearance Tony Green as himself (because nobody could do his voice)
Geoffrey Atkinson (sometimes known as Geoff
Atkinson), David Baddiel, Debbie Barham, Alistair
Beaton , Roger Blake, Peter Brewis, Christopher Burman,
Mark Burton , Kevin Cecil, John
Steve Brown, and, Philip Pope
Rob Grant, Doug Naylor, Geoffrey Perkins
Steve Bedelack, Richard Bradley, Phillip Casson, Steve Connelly, Bob Cousins, Andy De Emmony, Gordon Elsbury, Sean Hardie, Graeme Harper, Peter Harris, John Henderson, Liddy Oldroyd, Tom Poole, Beryl Richards, Geoffrey Sax, John Stroud, Graham C Williams
Kevin Mullary (1986 to 1989)
John Lloyd, Peter Fluck and Roger Law (Fluck & Law), Bill Dare, David Frost, Tony Hendra, Geoffrey Perkins, Giles Pilbrow, David Tyler
Central Independent Television, Spitting Image Productions, and, David Paradine Televison
Jon Blair, Joanna Beresford, Rosie Hoare, Ann Newcombe
Puppets designed and built by
Peter Fluck and Roger Law and company
All sorts of other people worked on the show, especially with regards to puppet building. This included: Errol Manoff (who also puppeteered in the very early days, and, make-artiste John Woodbridge, whose speciality is airbrushing techniques, which he now trains other make-up artistes in.
First Screening Dates
Please note these dates relate only to series and specials which Louise Gold was definitely involved with.
1st Series: First episode screened on Friday 24 (some say 26) February 1984. Last episode 17 June 1984.
(Ms Gold did not perform on the 2nd Series)
3rd Series, screened 6 January to 24th March 1985
Special: The Sound Of Maggie, screened 6 May 1989
9th Series, screened 11 June to 9 July 1989
The show’s first spin off was the single Da Do Run Ron
Four years after the show ended, Fluck and Law's puppets were sold at auction
Phil Cornwell, Louise Gold, Roger Law, and, John Thompson went on to appear in the television documentary The Wonderful World Of Puppets, where of course they represented Spitting Image (well Louise Gold also represented The Muppet Show puppeteers)..
John Lloyd, Peter Fluck, Louise Gold, and, Steve Nallon went on to take part as on-stage guests part in Spitting Image - BFI Event.
David Baddiel, Simon
Buckley, Phil Cornwell, Bill Dare, Harry Enfield, Peter Fluck,
Jon Glover, Louise Gold, Rob Grant,
Besides its eighteen series, there were also a number of Spitting Image specials and spin-offs. Like everyone else involved with Spitting Image, Louise Gold puppeteered on some (but by no means all) of these. One of the Spitting Image specials she puppeteered on was ‘The Sound Of Maggie’, which was filmed at Richmond Theatre in Surrey, a theatre that Louise herself went on to appear on the stage of as a singer-actress in Noel/Cole: Let’s Do It, and, The Cherry Orchard. That theatre also featured, as The Savoy in the film Topsy Turvy.
Spitting Image’s four most regular
writers, at least in the early days, were: Rob Grant,
Some of the people involved with Spitting Image, went on to other political satire ventures. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, certainly provided an excuse for some of the Spitting Image satirists to put their own slant on things. Of particular note, Rory Bremner dressed up in drag to play the Queen in a special edition of his TV show Bremner, Bird And Fortune. While Louise Gold’s cabaret act (see “Louise Gold Sings Some Nice Songs”), found the doyenne of Spitting Image giving her take on The Queen giving a state of the nation address, complete with a Spitting Image puppet of The Queen. The puppet resurfaced later in the year, in an extended version of Ms Gold’s show Louise Gold ... By Appointment
Louise Gold also turned up again puppeteering The Queen as a little speciality to help introduce a fundraising bucket collection at Theatre Royal Drury Lane by the cast of Oliver! on 31 October 2009.
Louise Gold has also played The Queen in her actress’s guise, in an episode of Gina’s Laughing Gear; where she contrived to act an interpretation that was not unlike Spitting Image’s own portrayal of the character.
In a sense Tony Green’s voicing of his own parody on Spitting Image, might have some similarity to the occasion when the swimmer Johnny Rausmuller played a parody of himself, Johnny Weismuller, in the Cole Porter political-satirical musical Jubilee (which incidentally sent up the British royal family, but was nothing like as bitingly satirical as either Spitting Image or Unity Theatre were).
In it’s early days Spitting Image borrowed heavily from The Muppets, this includes quite a number of personnel from The Muppet Show, such as: Leading Puppeteer Louise Gold, Writer Christopher Langham, and, Directors Philip Casson, and, Peter Harris.
Immediately prior to helping set up Spitting Image, Leading puppeteer Louise Gold had been appearing, at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, in The Pirates Of Penzance, along with Chris Langham and Pamela Stephenson. They all appeared with the Pirates Of Penzance cast in the previews: The Pirates Of Penzance (Gala Performance), The Pirates Of Penzance (Gala Preview), and, The Pirates Of Penzance (Benefit Preview), and also in the 1982 Royal Variety Performance.
At the time of working on the pilot episode of what was to become Spitting Image producer John Lloyd was also producing BlackAdder (which Richard Curtis was also working on as a scriptwriter), when the pilot’s ‘puppeteering consultant’ cheekily asked the producer for a job on BlackAdder the result was a memorable acting appearance by one well known puppeteer!
Louise Gold had already worked extensively with The Muppets, a number of the other Spitting Image puppeteers also subsequently worked with The Jim Henson Company.
Several of the Spitting Image
puppeteers puppeteered on the film Labyrinth, they include: Anthony Asbury, Donald
Austen, Kevin Bradshaw, Simon Buckley, Sue Dacre, Alistair
Eason joined Spitting
Image for Series 9 (having previously worked with some of the Spitting
Image puppeteers on a spin-off). He was auditioned for Spitting
Image by leading puppeteers Louise Gold and
Puppeteer Mark Jefferis was originally a dancer (his credits in that department include The Young Generation - at the same time as Liz Robertson). He then went on to tour in various musicals, including appearing in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (Touring Production) along with Louise Gold.
Puppeteer John Thirtle had previously worked as a puppet builder on The Dark Crystal.
Richard Coombs is one of the few puppeteers to puppeteer left-handed, however (like Fraggle Rock’s Terry Angus) he is actually right-handed, but started out as a puppet builder. Being right-handed, he got used to holding puppets in his left-hand while building them, and so naturally performs them that way.
Louise Gold and Chris Barrie with a sketch written by: Rob
Grant, Doug Naylor,
Louise Gold and Chris Barrie represented the Spitting Image voice-artistes on Comic Relif 1986, it is also known that Louise Gold puppeteered on it, what is not quite clear is who else from Spitting Image puppeteered on the show. Adrian Edmondson, and, Richard Curtis were also involved with the show in other areas.
Louise Gold and Chris Barrie also helped out, on occasion, with the politically-minded semi-professional Fall Out group’s shows.
Alistair Beaton went on to write material for the stage show Ziegfeld and it’s cast album Ziegfeld (recording) . His writing credits also include the Gilbert & Sullivan spoofs such as The Metropolitan Mikado which was highlighted in Ratepayers' Iolanthe & Metropolitan Mikado and additional material for a production The Gondoliers, featuring Louise Gold (she sang some of his additional material).(the first Muppet album that Louise Gold was actually credited on), and, Muppet Show Music Album. Chris Langham was involved with writing material for the latter.
Writer Chris Langham and Puppeteer Louise Gold had appeared in The All Time Get Around Sometimes Play Together Every Other Friday Night Vaudeville Show.
Peter Harris had previously directed The Muppets Go To The Movies, for which Chris Langham wrote, and, Louise Gold puppeteered.
Gold, Rob Tygner, Donald Austen, Simon Buckley, Sue Dacre,
Nick Curtis, Carol Kenyon, and, Miriam Stockley went on to appear as a backing vocalists on The Muppet Christmas Carol (Soundtrack album), which of course Louise Gold featured as a singing-puppeteer on.
Louise Gold and Jessica Martin have appeared together several times in: Something For The Boys, One Touch Of Venus (2000 Production), A Lost Musicals Occasion , Regents Park 70th Anniversary Gala, A Celebration Of The Life And Work Of Dick Vosburgh, and at Dress Circle Grand Reopening. They have also appeared together on the radio, on: Let’s Do The Show Right Here and Ned Sherrin’s Review Of Revue.
Carl Wayne’s recording credits include The Greatest Musicals of the 20th Century, The Great Musicals – Glamour And Majesty, The Great Musicals – Dashing Heroes, Blushing Maidens, and, The Great Musicals - From Broadway to Hollywood.
Director Philip Casson went on to direct Louise Gold in her actress’ guise in an episode of Casualty.
Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley went on to write for Alexei Sayle’s Merry-Go-Round.
Richard Coombes, Francis
Richard Coombs, Sue
Dacre, Phil Eason, Louise Gold,
Jessica Martin had gone on to appear in A Love Letter To Dan.
Steve Punt also wrote for Roland Rat The Series.
Louise Gold, Brian
Simon Buckly, Richard
Coombs, Louise Gold,
David Frost went on to work on Comedy Tonight.
Louise Gold, and, Marty Robinson were among the 16 puppeteers who took part in American puppeteer Jim Henson’s Memorial Service.
Louise Gold, Peter Harris, and, Christopher Langham had featured on the television documentary Of Muppets And Men.
Sue Dacre and Louise Gold went on to appear as panellists at the Labyrinth 25th Anniversary Screening. Mak Wilson was supposed to have taken part in that, but was unavailable.
Louise Gold, Peter Harris, Chris Langham, and, Steve Punt went on to appear in the documentary I Love The Muppets.
is perhaps worth noting that at least three of the performers on this very
adult TV show, have also made somewhat noteworthy contributions to the world of
pre-school-children’s television. Jon Glover had previously presented BBC
Spitting Image featured in ITV’s 50 Greatest Shows, where it was spoken about by among others Peter Fluck. Meanwhile Louise Gold was speaking about The Muppet Show but was clearly voicing and probably puppeteering The Queen puppet who spoke about the programme. Steve Nallon is clearly voicing Margaret Thatcher but it is not clear whether his part was done for the documentary.
well as being one of Spitting Image’s regular writers,
from 1986 onwards
During the very last season of Spitting Image a behind-the-scenes item about the show was featured on the television programme Funny Business, puppeteers Nigel Plaskit and Simon Buckley were among the people involved. Nigel Plaskit was shown operating the John Major puppet, and trying to explain how is performance of that puppet had to be “very grey” ; while Simon Buckley was shown, operating the Tony Blair puppet, and revealing that voice-artiste Alistair McGowen once told him that the reason “Tony Blair always smiles, because you can’t do the voice unless you smile.”
Links about Spitting Image
Official Show Site for LOUISE GOLD...BY APPOINTMENT: http://www.louisegold.com/ - This is the show site for Louise Gold’s cabaret act, includes a couple of photographs of Spitting Image’s original Leading Puppeteer, with the actual Spitting Image latex puppet of The Queen.
BBC Guide To Comedy page for the show: http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/guide/articles/s/spittingimage_7775945.shtml
Spitting Image Wiki: http://spittingimage.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page - Note, it is your webmasters opinion that the information on this wiki is not currently all that reliable.
Independent newspaper’s interview with Peter Fluck: ‘Headcases? We Were Miles
Better Says Spitting Image Creator’: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/headcases-we-were-miles-better-says-spitting-image-creator-805232.html
- This interview carried out by The Independent’s
TheatreNow.Com interview: Gold On
Stage: Louise Gold In Follies: http://www.theatrenow.com/asp/link.htm?news.asp?art=3430&cat=1 This is an interview carried out
Muppet Central Interview with Louise Gold: http://www.muppetcentral.com/articles/interviews/gold.shtml
Steve Nallon's Official Website: www.stevenallon.com
Chris Barrie’s Fan-Site: http://www.clay.co.uk/barrie/
Lee & Herring’s Official Site: http://184.108.40.206/fist/
Dress Circle’s Press And Stock Shot 1 of Claire Sweeney, and Louise Gold performing “The Queen”: http://www.salamanderphoto.com/decsite/events/specials/dresscircle/DressCircle_8773cropweb.html The Puppeteer (Louise Gold) is clearly visible behind her puppet in this one. There are several other photographs on the site of “The Queen” performed by Louise Gold, plus two photographs of Ms Gold as herself.
British TV Shows Reviews ‘S’: http://www.eskimo.com/~rkj/s.htm Includes an entry for Spitting Image.
Absolute Astronomy’s page about the programme: http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/encyclopedia/s/sp/spitting_image.htm
Mistress Of Puppets, Enfield Independent’s interview with Louise Gold (she mentions Spitting Image): http://www.enfieldindependent.co.uk/display.var.653310.0.mistress_of_puppets.php
Museum Of Broadcast Communications’ page for the programme http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/S/htmlS/spittingimag/spittingimag.htm
Do You Remember.co.uk’s page for the programme: http://www.doyouremember.co.uk/memory.asp?memID=1505
BFI Transcript of the BFI event about the programme: https://www.bfi.org.uk/features/interviews/spitting-image.html (they had a few problems with audibility, so some comments got lost)
BFI Database entries: Series 1: http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/697132 , http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/746901, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/746900, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/746899, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/746898, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/746897, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/746896, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/746894, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/746895, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/746891; Series 3: http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/352864, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/483662, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/483665, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/483667, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/483668, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/483679, http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/483680 .
Richard Coombs’s website’s section on the show: http://www.richardcoombs.co.uk/hotchpotch.htm (he does mention various Spitting Image productions elsewhere on his site)
Spitting Image Series 1 DVD Release, news item: http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=66978 (Louise Gold is quite rightly specifically mentioned as an experienced pair of hands, at puppet performance).
Play.com’s entry for the Spitting Image Series 1 DVD: http://www.play.com/DVD/DVD/4-/3623122/Spitting-Image-Series-1/Product.html?tduid=9792880de5feb828fee77d6af1f66835
Amazon.co.uk’s entry for the Spitting Image Series 1 DVD: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00112GCD0/dvdtimes01
Off The Telly, ‘I’d
Certainly Be Happy To Bring Hartley Back’ – an interview with
Chris Barrie’s biography on his official website: http://chrisbarrie.co.uk/default/?page_id=5
The Society Of Antiquities, an obituary which happens to include an interesting reference Private Eye: http://www.sal.org.uk/obituaries/Obituary%20archive/john-brandonjones (Not really anything to do with Spitting Image, but might be of some interest)
Agency Licensing Campaign (article in The Stage): http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/31022/theatre-stars-back-campaign-for-talent-agency,
and Online Petition (which anyone
who supports it can sign): http://www.gopetition.com/petition/41085.html , seeing as