Al Murray tells Graham Norton about his new West End show Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image The Musical

Virgin Radio

9 Jul 2023, 17:27

Graham Norton looking happy pointing across to a picture of Al Murray on a video call with him.

Al Murray joined The Graham Norton Radio Show with Waitrose to talk about the musical and its 100 life-size puppets.

If you love Al Murray’s stand-up shows, then you will be glad to know his new project Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image The Musical has launched in the West End.

The Pub Landlord comedian wrote the musical with impressionist Matt Forde and double-Olivier award winner Sean Foley.

After a sell-out run at the Birmingham Rep, the five-star show has moved to London’s Phoenix Theatre, where it will be shown until 26th August 2023.

Just like the British comedy Spitting Image, which began in 1984, Idiots Assemble does not hold back when giving real-life politicians and celebrities a satirical roasting.

Speaking to Graham Norton about the show’s characters, Murray revealed: “There's the great and good and some of the not-so-good and some faces from the old days as well.

"The essential story is one week before the coronation, King [Charles] realises that the fabric of society, which is a pair of undercrackers, has worn thin, and he can't be crowned king until it's repaired.

"So he gives Tom Cruise the impossible mission of saving the UK and Cruise assembles a team of people around him like RuPaul, Tyson Fury, Angela Rayner, Greta Thunberg, and Meghan Markle.

"But then of course, because we've got seven goodies, we have to have seven baddies,” he added. “And Ian McKellen narrates the whole thing.”

Praising the musical for its surreal creativity, the 55-year-old described it as “the most extraordinary thing in the world”.

Murray told Norton: “When you say, we want Vladimir Putin to do a song and dance number, that happens.

"We come up with a thing. They make it.”

The British comedian also shared his admiration for the crew who present the musical.

He explained: “For me, we've kind of done the dots in a join-the-dots picture, and then the impressionists come in and the puppeteers come in and it's turned into this extraordinary live cartoon.

"My favourite thing when I go [to see it] is if I get chatting to people, to ask them to find me in the interval and tell me how many puppeteers they think there are in the show because we have 100 puppets.

"The puppeteers make them appear just like that, over and over again,” Murray added. “So every scene they're in, they're about to go off and you know, get another puppet and create another scene.

The co-writer also shared that because the puppets are so heavy, they cannot be held for longer than a few minutes at a time.

"The puppets are life-size and the Boris and Trump puppets and the Tyson Fury puppet, they're bigger than people, so they have this amazing physical presence.

"The puppeteers have to be rotated on a four-minute cycle, they can't do longer scenes than four minutes because they get too heavy and their arms get sore.”

Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image The Musical is on at London’s Phoenix Theatre until 26th August 2023.

Listen to The Graham Norton Radio Show every Saturday AND Sunday from 9.30 am on Virgin Radio or catch up on-demand here.