Headcases was an ITV satirical animation show based on current affairs. It employed the same satirical style as Spitting Image, 2DTV and Bo' Selecta!, but using 3D animation created by UK Visual Effects and animation house Red Vision. Red Vision evolved a series of unique production techniques and a sophisticated animation pipeline to deliver the weekly topical elements of the series to hitherto impossible deadlines.
|Created by||Henry Naylor|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||8|
|Original network||ITV, STV, UTV|
|Picture format||576i 16:9|
|Original release||6 April– 15 June 2008|
The programme's only series began on 6 April 2008, with weekly episodes until 11 May 2008, airing on Sundays at 10 pm. A seventh episode was televised on Friday, 30 May at 10:30 pm, and an eighth at 10 pm on Sunday, 15 June. The show included celebrities, politicians and members of the British Royal Family in their animated form, taking a role in sketches including scenarios from their own topical issues.
The show's name comes from the fact that all the subjects' caricatured faces are out of scale with the rest of their bodies.
Lampooning people in the public eye, the impressionists got the chance to caricature politicians, royals and celebrities alike. These included Prime Minister Gordon Brown, portrayed as an out of touch, weak, very austere Scrooge like Victorian and has a dark, miserable old character. His Chancellor, Alistair Darling, is depicted as a panicky cry baby who says, "We're doomed, doomed, doomed" while jumping around the room. There were also the forgetful Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, the vicious creature David Miliband and Tony Blair who, under the guise of Brown's adviser Ed Balls, tricks Gordon for money.
On the Conservatives' side, Leader of the Conservatives, David Cameron who was portrayed as insisting he's an ordinary man of the people for a press conference, before reverting into a volatile, mean spirited, snobbish public schoolboy behind closed doors, He regularly beats his Shadow Chancellor and manservant George Osborne and forces him to do various unpleasant things, i.e. lick dog muck off his shoes (a reference to "old Etonian" fagging).
Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague is portrayed as an oafish, bitter alcoholic Yorkshireman (referencing his past claims of having drunk "14 pints a day" as a teenager) and the then newly elected Mayor of London Boris Johnson portrayed as half man and half dog, so when he tries to talk about issues, he instead does acts of canine behaviour e.g. chasing his tail and licking his genitals.
While on the side of the Liberal Democrats, leader Nick Clegg is portrayed as a desperate leader ready to use anything (such as offers at Pizza Hut suggested by his party) as an excuse for the Lib Dems' 'drive for change' influencing day to day Britain.
The Royal Family are set up in the same style as they were on Spitting Image; the reasonably sane but a senile Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh "and his dog (Poochwater)" who do everything that they can to stop Prince William from marrying "commoner" Catherine Middleton (he calls her Kate Middle class) but never succeed, and Prince William and Prince Harry who try to act as "normal blokes", but ultimately fail – in one sketch they attempt to order pizza only to ask for caviar toppings.
There were other international politicians that Headcases satirised like President George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, Condoleezza Rice, incompetent farmer Robert Mugabe, strong but dark character former President of Russia, Vladimir Putin and his successor portrayed as a ventriloquist's dummy, Dmitry Medvedev, the sex mad medallion man, Nicolas Sarkozy as a flirty disco dancer who sings in French about international success and President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is portrayed as a Borat like character who lists reasons why his country should have nuclear technology (including destroying the entire Middle East and most of Central Asia so Iran can move closer to Europe to compete in Euro 2012) calling his adversaries racists.
Celebrities impersonated include the populist and selfish former editor of the Daily Mirror newspaper Piers Morgan who gets a heavy object dropped on him each time; Victoria Beckham, a big headed loudmouth with a speech disorder and her dumb husband David, who is considerably shorter, going about their days working in America; Steven Spielberg; transsexual Madonna; Morgan Freeman; large breasted model Jordan and child minded Peter Andre; old and senile action stars Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis, styled as "The (Geriatric) Action Heroes", who fight their nemesis, money grabbing, snake haired old people hater Heather Mills; unintelligent Brad Pitt and his twisted wife Angelina Jolie, who keeps adopting children and imprisoning them to a factory making hair extensions to rival the golden locks of Jennifer Aniston, veteran newsreader Trevor McDonald; inappropriate uses for Russell Brand (e.g. as a toilet brush); Fabio Capello struggling to learn English leaving everyone confused at what he means when he speaks; far too similar footballers Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, whose attempts to work together for England are portrayed as Laurel and Hardy style slapstick comedy; angry, loud mouthed Jeremy Clarkson making ill informed judgements; Richard Hammond who was left drowning when global warming hit the 2050 episode of Top Gear; sleepy, drunk and drug addled Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse; complainers Bono and Bob Geldof; coin operated Jonathan Ross; bachelor George Clooney; Sebastian Coe presenting updates for the 2012 Olympics; Mohamed Al-Fayed and his conspiracy theories involving Fiat Unos; alien Tom Cruise and his robot wife Katie, and common chavs Helen Mirren and Judi Dench, who bully Kate Winslet because they are Dames and she is not.
Sam Wollaston from The Guardian gave the show a mixed review, saying that the writing was good, but the animation was "soulless" and the Daily Star simply called it "Hilarious". The show's debut opened with four million viewers, having the highest viewers of any programme for the first half of the show. However, the second half of the show was beaten by the news on BBC One. The second episode also attracted 4 million viewers.
Peter Fluck was critical of the series. His initial assessment is decidedly lukewarm: the CGI puppets "look pretty dead", it might not be rude enough, and, if he were younger, he would bypass television and broadcast on YouTube instead. He is encouraged by the likes of Rory Bremner among the impersonators.
- "Headcases - About the Show". itv.com. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- Wollaston, Sam (2008-04-07). "The weekend's TV". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
- Tryhorn, Chris (2008-04-07). "Headcases starts with 4 million". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
- Tryhorn, Chris (2008-04-14). "Foyle's War sweeps to victory for ITV". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-04-14.
- Johnston, Ian (6 April 2008). "Headcases? We were miles better, says Spitting Image creator". The Independent. London.