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Thursday, 30 December, 1999, 10:28 GMT
Spitting Image puppets up for sale

No public figure was spared by Fluck and Law

A London art gallery is hoping some of the victims of the Spitting Image satirical puppet show will bid at an auction of 800 figures.

The Whitechapel Gallery in east London is working with auctioneers Sotheby's to sell the collection on behalf of one of the series' creators Roger Law.

He and business partner Peter Fluck created some of the most enduring satirical images of the 1980s with infamous caricatures such as a spitting Roy Hattersley, a cigar-smoking Margaret Thatcher and a dysfunctional Royal Family.

The gallery is hoping no politician will be able to sit by and watch his or her image go unsold, and will thus pitch in with a bid, the Times newspaper reports.

Cruel humour

While television viewers loved the programme's irreverent humour, for the politicians and public figures themselves it was often deeply wounded.

Michael Hesletine reportedly said it accurately portrayed the Thatcher cabinet as vegetables and former Liberal leader Sir David Steel, who was shown as a tiny figure playing second fiddle to his Alliance partner David Owen, believed it harmed his career.

One of its cruellest representations was of Tory chairman Kenneth Baker, who was portrayed as a slug. He is reportedly not interested in buying his puppet.

The series was cancelled by ITV in 1996 and a year afterwards Mr Law closed down his production studio before setting off travelling around Australia.

He is now artist in residence at the National Art School in Sydney.

Mr Law told the newspaper: "As I am trying not to fill my life with work and deadlines, funds at times can be a trifle thin.

"In an effort to reduce expenditure, I applied for pensioner status, only to be told I was too young, so I have become a student instead."

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