'Every Bomb You Make' - Spitting Image and Sting Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'Every Bomb You Make' - Spitting Image and Sting

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In 1984 there began a TV show called Spitting Image which was equally loved and loathed. A talented team of writers, voice actors, sculptors and puppet performers put together episodes which lampooned famous people of the time: members of the British Government and the Opposition, the American First Couple, the British Royal Family, sport personalities, pop stars and celebrities. The puppets, created by Peter Fluck and Roger Law, visibly resembled their characters and exaggerated their mannerisms, sometimes with disgusting effect. Among the cruel jibes and saucy suggestions were visual jokes which were very near the knuckle. No-one was safe, from the gin-soaked Queen Mother cavorting with jockeys to a womanising Pope John Paul II. Some of the people featured complained about how they were portrayed, which just added to the show's notoriety. Spitting Image became cult viewing, earning a legion of besotted fans who relished the Sunday night satire. The show ran, with various changes of production staff, until 1996.

Serious Stuff

Not all the presentations were meant to be funny. One outstanding, sobering and thought-provoking performance happened at the end of the last show of the first season. Caricatures of high-profile politicians and infamous world leaders featured in a video montage to the tune of 'Every Breath You Take'. The sinister lyrics about a jealous ex-lover conducting surveillance, written by Sting and performed with his band The Police, became the signature tune for stalkers everywhere. It reached #1 in the UK chart in 1983 and won 'Song of the Year' at the Grammy Awards in 1984, beating Michael Jackson's 'Beat It' and 'Billie Jean', and Lionel Richie's 'All Night Long (All Night)'. 'Every Breath You Take' is one of the greatest break-up songs of all time and one of Sting's masterpieces. Imagine, then, writers Quentin Reynolds and James Glen approaching Sting and asking if they could change his lyrics for some of their own to accompany a video Spitting Image wanted to make about the Grim Reaper stalking certain global leaders. Sting was so intrigued with the idea that he not only gave his permission, he offered to record the reworked lyrics himself, an offer which was, of course, accepted. The finished video was broadcast on 17 June, 1984. It lasted just one and a half minutes.

'Every Bomb You Make'

The video begins with the familiar intro of 'Every Breath You Take' and an image of a setting sun. Across the screen sails the Spitting Image puppet of US President Ronald Reagan1 to Sting's opening line: Every bomb you make. Accompanying the next line: Every job you take is the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher2. Others lyrics, alongside those appearing are:

  • Every heart you break - Arthur Scargill, President of the National Union of Mineworkers from 1982 to 2002 and Ian MacGregor3, head of the National Coal Board 1983 - 86
  • Every Irish wake - The Rev Ian Paisley4, anti-homosexuality preacher, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland 1971 to 2008

...I'll be watching you

  • Every wall you build - Leonid Brezhnev5, President of the Soviet Union 1964 - 82
  • Everyone you've killed - Robert Mugabe6, President of Zimbabwe 1987 to 21 November, 2017
  • Every grave you've filled - Fidel Castro7, President of Cuba 1976 to 2008
  • All the blood you've spilled - Colonel Muammar Gaddafi8, Brother-Leader of Libya 1969 - 2011

...I'll be watching you

  • Oh can't you see? - Yuri Andropov9, President of the Soviet Union 1982 - 84
  • You belong to me - General Idi Amin10, President of Uganda 1971 - 79
  • There'll be a bill to pay - random Russian general
  • On that Judgement Day - (elderly) Adolf Hitler11, F├╝hrer of Germany, who according to Spitting Image survived the war and was living in exile in Downing Street, London
  • For every empty plate - Indira Gandhi12, Prime Minister of India 1966 - 77 and again 1980 - 84
  • Every word of hate - The Ayatollah Khomeini13, founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran 1979 - 89
  • Those who subjugate - PW Botha14, President of apartheid-era South Africa 1984 - 89
  • Those who violate - Konstantin Chernenko15, President of the Soviet Union 1984 - 85

...I'll be watching you

The video ends with the personification of death, also known as the Grim Reaper, staring at the viewer. It is an incredibly powerful and moving statement, leaving an indelible memory upon those who happen to see it, and understand its message.

1Died 5 June, 2004.2Died 8 April, 2013.3Died 13 April, 1998.4Died 12 September, 2014.5Died 10 November, 1982.6Died 6 September, 2019.7Died 25 November, 2016 ('Black Friday').8Assassinated 20 October, 2011.9Died 9 February, 1984.10Died 16 August, 2003.11Died 30 April, 1945.12Assassinated 31 October, 1984.13Died 3 June, 1989.14Died 31 October, 2006.15Died 10 March, 1985.

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