How can we ever forget the Spitting Image hit in the eighties "I've never met a nice South African"? Spitting Image was the very successful British puppet satire television series, produced by renowned cartoonists Peter Fluck and Roger Law, which ran on the ITV network from 1984 to 1996. I loved the show and always wanted to introduce the concept to South Africa during those dark Apartheid years in the eighties, when I performed my own satire 'Puns en Doedie' (Puppets Against Apartheid) in the streets. It would never have been allowed in South Africa. It was, however, taken up at the time by Australia as 'Rubbery Figures' in various forms from 1984 to 1990 and even in France Les Guignols de l'info (English: News Puppets) is a satirical latex puppet show broadcast on Canal+, which soon gained a rival series on French TV, Le Bébête Show, starring François Mitterrand as Kermit the Frog.
Well, like it or not, two decades later, the renowned television concept is finally hitting Africa. Both South Africa and Kenya are currently launching their own versions of this political hit puppetry series. In Kenya The XYZ Show has just released a pilot trailer, which you can view on You Tube, although their website doesn't seem to be working. The official series is scheduled to launch on Kenyan Television on 26 May 2009.
The South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) who commissioned political satirist and cartoonist, Jonathan Shapiro to produce a new television series 'Z News' are still sitting with the pilot seventeen months later. The pilot of Z News was produced for the SABC in December 2007. The pilot is still buried deep in SABC bureaucracy and no decisions have yet been made as to it's screening. Is this a sign of 'the return of censorship suffered under Apartheid'? Let's hope a decision is made soon! You can also find 'Z News' on Face Book here!