Tooth & Claw: The inside story of Spitting Image

I’ve just been reading this again. It’s brilliant; probably the best book about comedy that I’ve ever read – with lots of really geeky details, and fascinating stuff about the two unbroadcast pilots. What’s particularly interesting is that it was written in 1986; just two years after the first programme aired. And it isn’t some sanatised version of events – all the gory disagreements and problems are in there. And Spitting Image had rather more than its fair share of both. Up to and including physical violence.Being a Dwarf fan, of course, it’s delightful to read such lines (when they became head writers and basically pulled the show around) as “Grant, 28, and Naylor, 27, were naturally the heroes of the modest hour.” Delightful – and also a bit sad. It really shouldn’t upset me so much that they split up, should it?

I do find it slightly odd that some Dwarf fans aren’t that interested in Rob and Doug’s other work. Although it’s probably just down to lack of easy access to it; after all, all the Spitting Image videos are long deleted, and Son Of Cliché (like a lot of shows they worked on) never has a commercial release at all. (Download it though, you fuckers – SOC is genuinely one of the best radio series ever.) I suppose we can only hope that ITV3 will see fit to show old Spitting Image shows, like Granada Plus used to do. If the planned revival comes about, old eps would make a nice companion piece…

Tooth & Claw is long, long out of print now, obviously – but try and get hold of a copy. It’s well worth it.

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