My name is Roger Law, and I used to run Spitting Image for far too long. And we’re in Leytonstone in a workshop just like every other workshop I’ve ever had, and the reason we’re all here is we’ve been asked to do caricatures for the up and coming election – Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. And I think the only reason I’ve been tempted back into it is I’ve done some stuff for the Tate, for their show, and I’ve been talking to the people I used to work with, and caricaturists like Steve Bell and Scarfe, and comedy writers. And when I was asked to do it, I was sort of halfway up for it, but it’s been an interesting experience. I mean, it’s odd being back in the workshop like this.
I used to work with Peter Flood making plasticine models exactly like this, I mean, the spitting image of these, to coin a phrase. And that grew into the television programme. But we spent seven or eight years making this kind of work for the New York Times and the Economist, the Sunday Times, the Times, and we really enjoyed it because we had a lot of control over it. The television show was like a roller-coaster ride, really, compared to working for print.
The Tate show includes most of my favourite caricaturists, and people like Gillray and Cruickshank are there, and many of those ideas were recycled by cartoonists like myself, Gerald Scarfe, Steve Bell. The ideas just get recycled over the… I mean, it’s very strange that you can do an idea that Gillray did in the same position. It’s in the collective psyche. People know it. That’s quite interesting, that you have this tradition that actually means something to a readership or viewership. It’s brilliant.
When we first started doing Spitting Image, everybody had to be somebody; that was the rule. Every puppet was a politician or a famous person, and Gillray would be an extra on Spitting Image, right? And it serves him right. He started it all, and he ended up on a satire show himself. It was one for the connoisseurs, and it worked out pretty well, because I think the Tate had a Gillray show, and he appeared there in person. They don’t seem to have the kind of power that you thought Thatcher had – or maybe Thatcher did have. And Spitting Image reflected that struggle – you had a Labour Party that still had some resemblance to being a Labour Party, so there was a conflict there, and in the country, with the miners. And I felt very strongly about it. I really, really, really wanted to do Spitting Image. And I don’t feel the same way about these people. It’s a situation they are not in control of, and you don’t feel that any of them could do anything, which is why outside there we’ve got them all caricatured playing cards with credit cards, with no money on the table, just buttons. It’s all gone, done and dusted.
Well, the Tate have got some caricatures, some quite rude ones, caricatures that Spitting Image did. I think they’re going to have this Thatcher. How many Thatcher puppets did we have? Well, we had… oh, we had the condescending one, you know, when she talks to you as if your dog’s died. And we had an angry one, and we had a happy one, for some reason – God knows why! The only feedback we ever got from Thatcher was that she never watched the show. What I find ironic about Thatcher is she created the world that we live in now, pretty much single-handedly, I think, and now she can’t remember a bloody thing about it, you know! Well…