‘Spitting Image’ defends depiction of Greta Thunberg after social media criticism

"If the show isn't stirring controversy, it's probably not doing what it set out to do"

Spitting Image have defended their depiction of Greta Thunberg following criticism on social media.

The satirical comedy show confirmed 17-year-old climate activist Thunberg would be making an appearance on the show in puppet form, where she’s set to be portrayed as a weather presenter.

Reemah Sakaan, group director of SVoD at ITV, said in a statement: “It’s a very straightforward joke and is nothing to do with her as an individual.”

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She added: “If the show isn’t stirring controversy, it’s probably not doing what it set out to do, or being true to its origins.”

A number of viewers took to Twitter to explain why the depiction of Thunberg felt wrong.

“The fact Spitting Image have decided it’s acceptable to mock a 17-year old with autism is disgusting in itself,” Evolve Politics said. “But Greta Thunberg isn’t even rich or powerful – she doesn’t need ‘holding to account’.

“She’s precisely the type of ordinary voice we need to lift up, not knock down.”

Another user satirically wrote: “Ha, me and the old boys down at the working men’s club are glad Spitting Image are going after Greta Thunberg, a 17 year old who…wants a nicer world…”

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Liam O’Dell added: “You would think #SpittingImage would have learned from the last time someone used a puppet to portray an autistic individual (see: @allinarowplay) that to do so is offensive and risks spreading further harmful stereotypes. Punch up, Spitting Image, not down.”

Another user agreed, writing: “Not sure going after Greta Thunberg is a wise move from the spitting image lot. Not because she’s autistic but because she’s a kid. Do better.”

However, one viewer pointed out that Thunberg had liked the tweet from the official Spitting Image account introducing her puppet.

“Greta Thunberg has liked her own Spitting Image puppet, so I think that’s the argument settled. Night,” wrote David Chipakupaku.

Spitting Image creator Roger Law recently said that the show would mock both left- and right-wing figures when it returns to screens next month.

“There’s lots of ammunition to throw at the other side as well. You go for them all,” he said.

“When we started Spitting Image, everything was in turmoil. There were riots in the streets… and of course you had Thatcher,” he added.

“You start looking on Thatcher with nostalgia because at least you knew what she was about and what she was going to do, if you thought about it. Boris and the boys, you’ve got no idea, and the ideology is absolutely nuts.”

Spitting Image arrives on BritBox this Saturday, October 3. A second series is set to follow in 2021.

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