NME - JANUARY 15, 2000

By Steven Wells


The League of Gentlemen - the sitcom-cum-soap-opera-cum-horripilatory realistic, fly-on-the-wall mock-doc set in the ultra-typical Northern town of Royston Vasey is the funniest thing on TV, no argument.

The episode where Tubbs discovered "There is a place called Swansea!" Where the one-armed and violently misanthropic joke shop owner forced the hand of a petrified customer into an electric-shock machine, and where the vet blew a tortoise up by whacking a compressed air nozzle up it's puckered anus, had this office belly laughing like a sumo wrestler on nitrous oxide, and believe me, it takes a lot to get us even giggling. And it's back - with a new series! With new characters! Which really has displeased the unfortunate denizens of the Derbyshire village of Hadfield where the series is shot. "Some people think that we give a bad impression of the town." Chuckles writer/performer Mark Gatiss. "The local paper had the headline PLAGUE OF GENTLEMEN."

Mr Gatiss - who insists that he and his fellow Gentlemen are more influenced by Les Dawson than by Shakespeare - then informs NME of a whole raft of new characters including Vinnie and Reenie, two charity shop volunteers (Vinnie is profoundly deaf, Reenie is obsessed with plastic bags, and they both loath 'That Meryl with the funny eye that works on Thursdays') The utterly sadistic Re start officer Cathy Carter-Smith (who makes the psychotic Pauline look like Gandhi on E) and gypsy showman Papa Lazarou and his Pandemonium Carnival which includes Ingleby (The smallest escapologist in the world) and Simba, Pebble and Tikk-Takk, the giant hating dwarves.

And as usual, all female characters will be played by the all-male cast in drag, but not, insists Mr Gatiss because they're a bunch of saddos who don't know any women.
But the big news for NME readers is, or course, the fate of acutely observed and appallingly bad  sad ex-rock 'n' roll star Les McQueen.
"Oh there's a lot more from Les" says Mr Gatiss "I can't give too much away, but let's just say that Creme Brulee reform."
Well that's great news for Les, and brilliant for fans of cheerful 70's - style Eurovision pop everywhere! "But without Les." You cruel gits!
See harmless old rhythm guitarist viciously destroyed! Observe an incompetent vet kill more animals than an abattoir on overtime! Squirm as new labour's war on the unemployment is relentlessly waged against Royston Vasey's hapless unemployed! And wonder once again just exactly what is in those highly addictive packages that the butcher keeps slipping to the great and good.



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2002-2006 Virtual Royston Vasey, except for bits belonging to The League of Gentlemen.