The British Sitcom Guide

The League of Gentlemen THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN

About "The League of Gentlemen"

Some say it’s terrifying, others think it’s as harmless as Beatrix Potter. Whatever your opinion of The League of Gentlemen, there is no doubt this British quartet put the ‘black’ back into comedy.

Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith

The show – which uses sketches within a sitcom narrative format – focuses on the bizarre and somewhat macabre inhabitants of Royston Vasey, a fictional northern town, where strangers are definitely not welcome.

Are You Local? Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith and (non-performing) Jeremy Dyson met while at university. Their shared love of classic horror films like 'The Wicker Man', 'Don’t Look Now' and 'Dead of Night' brought them together; a clear influence in their writing today.

The stage version of the Gents was created in 1994. Regular shows at the Canal Café Theatre followed and, in 1997, they won the prestigious Perrier award for comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

In the same year, they debuted on BBC Radio 4 with the series 'On The Town With The League Of Gentlemen'. It was within these six episodes Royston Vasey was first conceived, but under the name of Spent.

Characters such as Pauline Campbell-Jones, the bitter re-start officer and Barbara, the transsexual taxi driver appeared, winning the Gents a Sony Award.

Two years later, it transferred to TV, taking the characters with it and adding more, such as Tubbs and Edward Tattsyrup, the stranger-hating owners of the Local Shop.

It soon won a cult following on BBC 2, and fans turned to the internet to meet and talk. Since then, there have been three series (in 1999, 2000 and 2002), each consisting of six 30-minute episodes. A Christmas special was aired in December 2000, a comic masterpiece drawing even more deeply on the Gents’ gothic influences.

The third series was a departure from the format of the previous two series. Each episode focused on a particular character, with all six leading up to one moment in time. It received a mixed reception from fans and critics.

You're my wife now Dave! Since the League hit our screens, it’s influence on comedy shows – particularly BBC - is apparent in Little Britain (Gatiss was script editor for the first series) and the darkly comic Nighty Night (again, Gatiss stars in this alongside creator Julia Davis).

In 2005, the Gents created and starred in their first feature-length film, The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse

Theatre tours included 'A Local Show For Local People' in 2001, followed by 'The League of Gentlemen Are Behind You', a warped pantomime, from October to December 2005.

It is unclear if there will be a fourth series, or when the League will work together again. All are completing individual contracts; most notably, Shearsmith has just started a year-long stint in the West End show 'The Producers'.

For now, we will have to wait and see, but there’s no doubt Royston Vasey will live on – even if only in the hearts of fans.

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