Spitting Image - Pilot Episodes

Louise Gold's contribution to Spitting Image is all too often over looked. This is a shame, given that she made a significant contribution to setting up the show on both the pre-pilot and especially the pilot episode, as their "Puppeteering Consultant", a key player in auditioning and training the shows original team of puppeteers. In a way Louise Gold was always destined to be involved with a show such as this one, at some point in her career, for she is a born Political Satirist, after all her parents were Unity Theatre players.


  Pre Pilot.

Shot on 30th January 1983


Cast And Crew

Host -John Lawrence-Jones

Script- John Lloyd and Ben Elton

Camera owner - John Lloyd

Cameraman - Jon Blair

Puppeteer & Puppeteering consultant - Louise Gold

Puppeteer – Mike Quinn (notably performing a doormat)

Puppet Builders and everything else - Peter Fluck and Roger Law

Voice of Michael foot - John Lloyd

Voice of Doormat – Ben Elton

and one other person, not sure who. Possibly Tony Hendra



  UNTV (The Spitting Image Pilot Episode)

Pilot: In rehearsal for six weeks, in rooms off Old Street, (possibly from sometime between 16 to 23 May until 24 June). Shot, at Ewart Studio's, Wandsworth, on 27, 28, 29 and 30h June 1983



Note: The Puppeteers probably also provided voices. There were actually eight puppeteers, but not completely sure who they all were.

Louise Gold (trained by The Muppets)


Anthoney Asbury

Chris Barrie (new to puppetry)

Kevin Bradshaw

Alistair Fullerton (had experience)

Errol Manoff (primarily a puppet builder – as he puppeteered on parts of the first series, and worked on the pilot presumably he puppeteered on this?)

Martin Oates (trained in German television)

Mike Quinn (had worked with Hensons)


Production Team


Founder - Martin Lambie-Nairn

Puppet Builders - Peter Law and Roger Fluck, with, Tom McLaughlin and 2 more assistants

Producer - John Lloyd

Production Assistant - Jon Blair (the show's "human dynamo")

Director - Phillip Casson

Puppeteering Consultant - Louise Gold (auditioned and trained the puppeteers, also responsible for making sure the puppeteers were fit for the job)

Script-Writer - Tony Hendra and others (possibly Richard Curtis)

Set Designer - Malcolm Stone

 UNTV’s grand finale sketch was apparently something involving with several more or less identical Japanese puppets committing Hara-Kiri, and was probably quite a feat in puppeteering terms.


To go to the page for Spitting Image itself, please click here.

John Lloyd, Peter Fluck, and, Louise Gold went on to talk about their contributions to the early days on Spitting Image at Spitting Image - BFI Event

Louise Gold, and, Roger Law went on to speak about Spitting Image on the documentary The Wonderful World Of Puppets.

Louise Gold, and, Martin Lambie-Nairn went on to speak about their contribution on Spitting Image: Must See TV.

Peter Fluck, Louise Gold, Roger Law, and, John Lloyd went on to speak about their contribution on Best Ever Spitting Image.

Peter Fluck went on to speak about Spitting Image on ITV’s 50 Greatest Shows, on which Louise Gold spoke about The Muppet Show, but was probably also performing The Queen from Spitting Image.

The Spitting Image team borrowed heavily from The Muppets, this included several personnel from The Muppet Show, such as: Leading Puppeteer Louise Gold, Director Philip Casson, Puppet Builder Tom McLaughlin, and, Set Designer Malcolm Stone.

Set Designer Malcolm Stone, Foam-Latex modeller Tom McLaughlin, and, leading puppeteer Louise Gold had all worked on Henson’s big art puppetry film The Dark Crystal. 

Modeller Tom McLaughlin, and, leading puppeteer Louise Gold had previously worked on the Henson film The Great Muppet Caper.

At the time of working on UNTV, producer John Lloyd  was also producing the first series of BlackAdder (which Richard Curtis  was also working on as a writer). Which at Louise Gold’s instigation resulted in a memorable acting appearance on BlackAdder from one notable British puppeteer!

Ben Elton and Richard Curtis also wrote material for Comic Relif 1986, some of which was included in the Utterly Utterly Live Comic Relief album.

Philip Casson was also involved with the production of Muppet albums: The Muppet Show Music Hall,  The Muppet Show 2 (the first Muppet album that Louise Gold was credited on), and, Muppet Show Music Album . He went on to direct Louise Gold in her actress’ guise in an episode of Casualty.

Louise Gold, Anthony Asbury, and, Alistair Fullarton went on to appear as voice-artistes on the Spitting Image album Spit In Your Ear  with which Philip Casson, John Lloyd and Jon Blair were also involved.



Links about Spitting Image Pilots

Muppet Central Interview with Louise Gold: http://www.muppetcentral.com/articles/interviews/gold.shtml

Chris Barrie’s biography on his official website: http://chrisbarrie.co.uk/default/?page_id=5


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