f you think that you’ve read that title incorrectly or you’re unfazed by the news of The League of Gentlemen’s return then its pretty obvious that you’re not "Local." Consider yourselves lucky Tubbs or Edward aren’t in the vicinity, or are they?! It was a joy to return to the town famously named after comedy legend Roy Chubby Brown, not to mention their love of the horror genre, where many of their references/characters pay homage. Films such as Don’t Look Now (1973), The Shinning (1980), Nosferatu (1922) and many more that us film buffs love and cherish can be seen throughout the series made by the Gents. So without further ado lets go somewhere “Local.”
First of all I must protect the precious things of the shop, all “twelfty” of them and warn you non-local folk that if you haven’t yet seen Part One of the three episodes that is going to grace our TV Sets over the next few nights then please go and catch up immediately, this article is going to contain a series of many SPOILERS. Many of which may infuriate those dedicated fans such as myself.
It has been roughly 15 years since The League of Gentlemen have been on TV with a TV series, that’s if you don’t count The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse (2005). But witnessing their return to BBC Two was almost as though they never left. Like the sign to village would say “Welcome to Royston Vasey, You’ll never leave!” It is fair to say that none of us have actually left Royston Vasey, since viewing the killings of Tubbs and Edward and Hillary Briss’ “Special Stuff.” We’re still quoting the Gentlemen’s famous skits.
As a fan of the show I found the episode’s storyline to be predictable, this isn’t a problem. FAR from it! The sketch in question which features Royston Vasey’s very own vet Mr. Chinnery, the moment a young girl and her mother arrive with their pet hedgehog its pretty obvious that at any moment that poor little creature is going to explode and the mother and daughter is going to be caked in intestines and prickly spines. Even though I knew the scene’s outcome I still howled with laughter. So far for me the episode is off to a humorous, sick and twisted start.
In true form of the Gents the series has introduced us to two new characters in the franchise and we’ve certainly seen an abrupt change to the town. Though after one episode I already have a theory of what’s going on in Royston Vasey. Women have started going missing, again. This time via a photo-booth, now many viewers who aren’t aware of the show would be asking “what’s that about?” Trust me, there’s something sinister going on and its certainly seems that Papa Lazarou is back collecting wives and selling pegs, Dave! However we don’t know that yet, I’m sure the revelation will be dropped in the concluding third episode of these Anniversary Specials.
However, even though this episode was a joyous wave of nostalgia some moments were rather unsettling. It was somewhat painful to discover that Pauline Campbell-Jones has dementia, but its made up for when in true Pauline fashion she’s putting poor old Mickey and Ross through hell once again, seeing Pauline cause bodily harm to Ross will never get old. I can see Ross being close to death by the end of the week.
But when many of Vasey’s natives still live in an English town that's in the middle of nowhere, one does not. We discover at the start of episode which is a nice little nod to the very first episode of series one, that Uncle Harvey has died and Benjamin is on his way back to his Aunt and Uncle’s for the funeral, however something sinister is going on and it certainly seems that the demonic twins; Chloe and Radcliffe have a plan to resurrect their dead father, with the help of the poor unaware Benjamin. Poor chap doesn’t have it easy when it comes to his Aunt, Uncle and cousins.
The overall episode was an amalgamation of nostalgia and was setting the stage for the upcoming two episodes that is to follow. Royston Vasey is once again under threat, the surrounding councils want to reduces the border and eventually swallow up Royston Vasey so that it is no more, though it does certainly seem that the town has gone to the dogs.
Businesses have gone bust and like many British towns it’s struggling. The show has become relatable with today’s climate not forgetting our favorite transgender Taxi driver Barbra and her current mission is for political correctness, I also liked that there’s a nice little nod to her two children that she gave birth to at the end of the third series in 2002.
As many changes have come to Royston Vasey one of the many changes I’m pleased to see, is the return of non-religious Reverend Bernice Woodall, who is now Mayor of the town and it certainly seems she still has a bit of fire in her personality. I’m very eager to find out how she escaped her imprisonment in Papa Lazarou’s elephant. Not to mention, I am eager to see if Herr Lipp is going to dig up Justin from his mother's flowerbed. Yeah, you read that correctly!
These three specials is for the fans of the show, it follows on from where the series left us but it also holds the true elements of what made us fall in love with the weird and wonderful natives of Royston Vasey. This episode has left me hungry for more Royston Vasey and I can see myself re-watching the episode as soon as I submit this article. As a matter of fact I have BBC iPlayer open already.
For newcomers these specials will baffle them without at least a backstory. I thoroughly liked the references and nods to the past series, not to mention seeing the return of some of my favorite characters. However the references weren’t only of The League of Gentlemen’s love for cinema and their past series but of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton’s brilliant series Inside No. 9. The episode concludes with Ellie (Lyndsey Marshal) and one of new characters Lindsey (Mark Gatiss), where they're about to become the new play things of Tubbs and Edward, however eagle eyed fans will notice that the number of the flat they’re now prisoner in is in fact No. 9.
The League of Gentlemen continues with Episode Two: Save Royston Vasey on BBC Two Tuesday 19th December at 22:00.