Come on TV producers, you miserable gits, give us Spitting Image back! I loved the show as a child, even though half the time I didn’t know what was going on: Margaret Thatcher getting decapitated by a barber after asking for a haircut that would make her “universally popular”; the Labour front bench singing “We’re Useless”; Ronald Reagan being an all-round genial buffoon. On its 30th birthday, there will be many other fond memories.
Politicians hated it, of course, and who knows how many careers suffered a beating at its hands. Political satire has a long tradition in this country, yet there’s way too little of it on our screens these days. BBC3’s fantastic The Revolution Will Be Televised is a recent admirable exception, not least because it pushed the audience to think about wider issues. But now we don’t have the likes of Rory Bremner mocking the great and the good, or indeed a That Was The Week That Was, there’s a massive satirical deficit.
Satire and political comedy can get a point across more effectively, more quickly, and in a way that emotionally connects with people better than anything that the likes of me can write. Take Mark Steel’s columns on these pages: I’m not the only reader to embarrass myself by raucously laughing in public at them. But they also ruthlessly expose just how utterly absurd – as well as unjust – so many policies are. Satire is a devastating weapon in the anti-establishment armoury.
Our rulers will be very satisfied that there is so little of it.