This Halloween marks 10 years since The League of Gentlemen aired its final episode on the BBC. The deliciously dark comedy show was something we had not seen the likes of before, and whose quirky charm has not been matched since.
The show was not so much laced with horror references as it was doused in them. The Wicker Man, Nosferatu, The Exorcist; The League of Gentlemen paid homage to an incredible number of classic horror films and kept the laughter, as well as the terror, rolling throughout.
The action staggered from scene-to-scene, like alcohol induced nightmares, through the streets and buildings warped village of ‘Royston Vasey.’ All the action is held together by bizarre storylines of mysterious macabre including veterinary curses, attic monsters, curious circuses and “Special Stuff.”
In fact the only thing more bizarre than the show’s storylines was its characters. Beastly butcher Hilary Briss, confused, transsexual cab driver Barbara Dixon, non-believer vicar Rev. Bernice, murderous local shopkeepers and minders of ‘precious things’ Tubbs and Edward Tattsyrup, a proverbial sackful of other twisted and tangled personalities and the
oddest and arguably best loved character Papa Lazarou. Lazarou is the minstrel faced leader of a shadowy circus troop and pure Gothicism.
The surreal, dreamlike tone is increased by the fact almost every character is played by a cast of three; Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss (Co-writer, Jeremy Dyson is the only ‘League’ member who does not regularly appear). All four have moved onto big things on TV, film and stage, but The League of Gentlemen and ‘Royston Vasey’ is where they really captured the hearts and imaginations of fans.
The League of Gentlemen is unique. It is the perfect encapsulation of British humour, intertwined with horror heavily influenced Hammer. The show is a British institution and one that is travelling well (it’s gained cult status overseas).
This Halloween, turnoff the lights and immerse yourself in ‘Royston Vasey.’ I promise, once you enter… ‘You’ll never leave.’