The League of Gentlemen is a dark comedy classic, full of hideous characters and disturbing events. It is often a very difficult show to watch, if not only for the sheer number of times we must see Mark Gatiss die in the most brutal of ways. That would be pretty traumatic for anyone.
Royston Vasey is a place for misfits; a place for the flawed, the unsettled and the peculiar. It is obvious when there is an intruder in the village, and we all know what happens to intruders, to un-locals. From the iconic married couple: Tubbs and Edward, who insist that their shop is a “local shop for local people”, to the patronising head of the Job Centre: Pauline (who would have guessed that Steve Pemberton would make such a wonderful woman?), The League of Gentlemen covers a wide range of characters and sketches.
There is one advantage to being fifteen years late watching this programme and that is that I can clearly see how it has influenced, and shares similarities of, our British comedy culture today, especially shows like Little Britain and The Mighty Boosh. Another development that should be clear to today’s viewers is that of Inside No. 9: the most recent work from Shearsmith and Pemberton, and another dark and twisted comedy delight.
It is clear that a huge amount of care and general hard graft went into the making of this programme and this is evident in the fragments between sketches, such as posters for crazy things like missing fingers and downright disgusting things like an exploded tortoise stuck to the roof of a taxi. The camera work is wonderful at sweepingly through the village and showing some of the various absurd places and people.
The League of Gentlemen is a programme that no comedy-lover should miss, though I expect most people haven’t missed it at all; it was only I who was stupid enough to do that.