Rubbery Figures was a satirical rubber puppet series that screened in Australia in various forms from 1984 to 1990. It appeared on TV comedies like The ABC's Rubbery Figures and Fast Forward. It featured puppets of major political and social characters.
The Rubbery Figures programs were made in the Melbourne film studio of Peter Nicholson, who also made the puppets themselves. Almost all the character voices for the puppets were performed by Melbourne voice actor Paul Jennings. The programs featured inserts of animation of puppet photo cutouts done mainly by Michael Nicholson, in a manner reminiscent of Terry Gilliam's work on Monty Python's Flying Circus.
Fast Forward's Rubbery Figures
Fast Forward included Rubbery Figures during its 1980s run, lasting until 1990. It was during its appearance on Fast Forward that Rubbery Figures acquired so many of its characters.
Like shows such as Spitting Image or Hurra Deutschland, the primary characters of Rubbery Figures were politicians native to the program's country (i.e. Australia). The Rubbery Figures political characters included:
- Bob Hawke - portrayed as a self-centred, power-hungry opportunist
- Paul Keating - depicted as Hawke's down-to-earth but ambitious crony
- Andrew Peacock - John Howard's main competition for the Liberal Party leadership, portrayed as vain and snobbish
- John Howard - depicted as an irritating, nerdy loser
- John Elliott - depicted as a big-nosed, foul-mouthed drunkard
Rubbery Figures also satirised prominent world politicians of the time, among them were:
- Margaret Thatcher - the then-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who was depicted as an eccentric profiteer, eager to appeal to the Australian government
- Ronald Reagan - the then-President of the United States, who was portrayed as a lumberjack, making decisions based on the horoscope or guesswork, and intent on keeping his nuclear weapons program a secret
- Mikhail Gorbachev - former Premier of the Soviet Union, who was depicted as an easygoing liberal who was always giving himself time off
- Muammar al-Gaddafi - the ruler of Libya, whose puppet was permanently impaled by a missile with the letters "USA" painted on one side
In 1991, EMI Music released a RUBBERY FIGURES music track called "The Recession Rap". It hit #60 on the ARIA Chart in August 1991.
The music & lyrics to "The Recession Rap" were written by David Atkin, Peter Benson & Troy Hazard, and the music was produced by David Atkin & Peter Benson for Keynote Audio Productions.