BritBox Series ‘Spitting Image’ Renewed as Producer Reveals NBC ‘Nervousness’ to Air Show in U.S.

“Spitting Image,” the iconic British satirical puppet show rebooted for streamer BritBox U.K., has been renewed for a second season while its executive producer has revealed why U.S. broadcaster NBC backed out of airing the show stateside.

Speaking to the U.K.’s Times newspaper, Jon Thoday, executive producer at “Spitting Image” producer Avalon, said there was “too much nervousness” in the upper echelons of the NBC hierarchy about the show’s content. Ultimately, the U.S. component of the deal fell apart just six weeks before the show’s Oct. 3 debut on BritBox. NBC has yet to comment on why it dropped out of the show.

Like its predecessor in the 1980s and 1990s, the rebooted series pulls no punches while lampooning leading political figures of the day. The first episode featured Donald and Melania Trump in COVID-19 quarantine, with the president tweeting using a part of his anatomy. The episode also satirizes U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his top cabinet ministers and advisers, Britain’s Royal Family and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The Guardian newspaper’s review of the first episode said that the show had “lost none of its savagery or willingness to shock.”

“If you’re going to go after the bastards, you may as well go after the biggest bastards there are,” creator Roger Law told the Times.

NBC pulled out for fear of offending powerful people, according to The Times. Variety has reached out to the broadcaster for comment.

“It’s basically quite a difficult show to do in the environment that exists, particularly if you’re attacking tall poppies. Inevitably if you attack tall poppies, people get worried,” Thoday told the Times. “You can’t really do ‘Spitting Image’ unless you’re fighting the corner of attacking everybody, but by doing that, people just get nervous. They think they want it, but when they’ve got it, they just start worrying about it.”

“Spitting Image” was available in the U.S. via Facebook on a 24-hour window on Oct. 4.

The show’s second season will debut in the fall of 2021. According to the streamer, the season 1 premiere on Oct. 3 led the number of BritBox subscribers to increase “ten-fold.”

Reemah Sakaan, group director of ITV SVOD and chief creative & brand officer for BritBox, said: “The fantastic response to ‘Spitting Image’ just goes to show how much the world needs public service satire.”

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