We all know well here in the UK what a profound impact something as seemingly unassuming as a few hand puppets can have on the national conversation, given the runaway success of Spitting Image from 1984 to 1996. Now, one of the shows that it inspired across the Channel – Les Guignols – is also being cancelled, having been lampooning French and overseas rich and famous since 1988.
As reported by The Telegraph and other sources, the programme – broadcast on the French subscription-based TV channel Canal+ – will not be given a 30th season, having gained an only temporary reprieve since the channel’s owner, Vincent Bolloré, first tried to axe it three years ago.
A satirical success story
Those who buy people hand puppets from our comprehensive puppetry online store here at Puppets By Post know that great puppetry isn’t a mere gimmick or source of entertainment – it’s also an art form, even capable of changing the world.
Les Guignols can certainly claim to have done that. The show came into its own during the 1990-91 Gulf War, in large part due to its outrageous depiction of a flak-jacket wearing Sylvester Stallone.
Since then, many other well-known figures within and outside France have been skewered by the show, ranging from former French presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy to late rock superstar Johnny Hallyday and ex-United States president George W. Bush.
A sad, but ‘expected’ demise
The programme’s cancellation seemed only a matter of time since Bolloré took control of Canal+ in 2015 after becoming the channel’s parent company, Vivendi’s largest shareholder. The billionaire industrialist accused the show’s writers of an “abuse of derision”, quickly indicating that he would axe the programme, amid suggestions from the press that he was acting on Sarkozy’s behalf.
One of the veteran figures behind the show, Yves Lecoq, said “we were expecting this, there were rumours, people quitting”, while many fans lamented its demise on Twitter.
Among those who celebrated the news, however, was right-wing politician Nadine Morano, a regular target of the show who tweeted: “No funeral, straight to cremation! No wreaths or flowers, only a plaque saying stupid and mean. Good riddance!”
Help yourself to a few of our amazing people hand puppets
Whatever one makes of the news, there’s no question that the show’s departure from French TV screens also marks the end of another chapter in Western satire. Nonetheless, hand puppets themselves certainly aren’t going away any time soon.
Buy people hand puppets from our extensive and up-to-date range here at Puppets By Post, and you can benefit from not only the utmost quality and competitive pricing, but also free delivery when you spend over £10.