Jon Thoday, the executive producer of rebooted Brit comedy Spitting Image, has revealed that NBC pulled out of the show just weeks before its premiere because of “nervousness” around its satirical content.
Deadline revealed over the weekend that the puppet show would premiere on Facebook in the U.S. after Avalon was unable to secure a broadcast partner.
Avalon founder Thoday told the Times of London that NBC was on-board right up until six weeks before launch, when executives at the network backed out amid “too much nervousness.”
“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,” he said.
“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.”
The comedy, which was rebooted by BBC/ITV streamer BritBox, skewers public figures through sketches involving exaggerated caricature puppets.
The show hastily inserted a skit on U.S. President Donald Trump contracting coronavirus before its premiere, for example, and sends up powerful tech executives including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
It is the second time that NBC has not taken Spitting Image to series. A U.S. pilot was produced for the network in 1986 — Spitting Image: Down and Out in the White House — but it was never picked up to series.
Deadline has contacted NBC for comment.
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