Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley’s Spitting Image puppet up for auction

By Colm O’Carroll

A famous puppet of the firebrand Rev Ian Paisley from the satirical 1980s TV show Spitting Image is set to fetch up to £800 at an auction in London later this month.

The puppet was notorious for blasting on to our screens shouting in the former DUP leader’s trademark booming manner, even taking on the marionette of Margaret Thatcher, just as its real life counterpart did.

The price the puppet is expected to reach shows the enduring nature of Mr Paisley’s notoriety.

The creation, which stole many a scene on the show, is just 30 inches high and has a latex head and hands

It’s expected to sell for between £600 and £800 at Bonhams in London on December 15.

Two other Spitting Image puppets in the sale from the same era are valued at far less.

The satirical representations of Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Lord Cecil Parkinson, are valued at between only £200 and £300.

Still, things aren’t what they used to be, even for the famous preacher and power-sharing First Minister, as just 10 years ago in a Sotheby's on-line sale in July 2000, a puppet of Mr Paisley sold for more than double the current highest estimate at £1,656.

In the same auction, a puppet of his nemesis Gerry Adams fetched even more at £1,693.

Spitting Image creator Roger Law sold around 200 puppets from the show for a total of more than £370,000.

On that occasion Margaret Thatcher's iconic puppet outshone all others and sold for £11,224.

Since the show ended we have had the long drawn-out peace process and Mr Paisley’s demise as a party leader and MP and withdrawal from the public glare.

After the first auction Mr Law said: “When we first planned the sale we thought it might have made around £100,000 and I hoped to make enough to put down a deposit on a house in Australia and buy a new surfboard. Now I could buy the entire beach.”

The following year, at Sotheby's in London, Law sold a further 271 puppets for £157,385.

He said then: “Spitting Image ran for 13 years from start to finish.

“At the time it was a rollercoaster ride without brakes, hard work but great fun.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to take a swipe at the great and the good, but I hated the puppets.

“Spitting Image puppets are about as loveable as Mr Punch or Jeffrey Archer.

“When the show ended I was left in my East End bunker with hundreds of rubbery upstarts, a catalogue of faces from the 1980s and 90s.”

Spitting Image ran from 1984 until 1996.

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