They have described themselves as Texas Chainsaw Massacre meeting High Road. As THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN prepare to bring their 'local show for local people' to Scotland we hear about the third series, self-censorship and their love of Through The Keyhole. Words: Brian Donaldson


A PLATE OF HAM SANDWICHES IS BROUGHT to the table. As the quartet nibble, chomp, swallow and wolf their once-live flesh, I await the gory transformation. Any second now, the eyes will bulge skyward and blood will cascade from nostrils as the effects of the ‘special stuff’ takes hold. Fortunately, my meeting with the darkest comedy team in the nation does not occur in Royston Vasey’s dankly malevolent butcher’s shop but in the swanky lobby of Malmaison on Newcastle’s Quayside.

This is The League Of Gentlemen’s second stop on the Tyne as they prepare for another sell-out show on their debut national tour and their first live dates since appearing at Edinburgh’s Pleasance during the August of 97. That particular adventure saw them pick up the Perrier Award, beating off acts such as the heavily-fancied Johnny Vegas (by the bookies, any road) and the 99 winner Al Murray. This victory also made them the first sketch team to nab the prize since the Cambridge Footlights in 1981.

And so frenzied has been the public reaction to e League Of Gentlemen going live that shows have been put on for ‘extra peo renzied is one reaction to the

. e’s a winning telly show. Disgusted has been ano r. Viewers and critics have been known to turn speedily away at the sight of dogs being put down by accident or dragged along by a bike until a blood-soaked collar is all that remains. And then there was the moment when the hapless vet Dr Chinnery attempted to induce the birth of a calf only to forcibly remove the cow’s innards instead.

Animals may get a tough time but humans aren’t exactly let off the hook; there is the painful side effects of Hilary Briss’ produce, the mental and physical torture applied by jobsearch fiihrer Pauline, the buried alive Justin, a tarred and feathered Benjamin and the less fortunate victims of psycho shopkeeps Tubbs and Edward (others have nt crucified or turned into a beast i The List What do you have t defence at accusations of unnece Mark Gatiss We sort of self- gives you some idea of what y seen. We have considerations a tone of an episode more tha sketches so there wouldn’t be t 0 or two longish melodramatic succession.

Jeremy Dys " have been things that we’ve edited to a isinterpretation. In the first Po s sketch, the was a line which was

intendegl ironically where he comes in and says, ‘vae had one of my niggers, one of my black mbods’. That c uld have been open to misinterpretation by . thick people.

Reece Shearsmith ()t of what people think is good about us is t ‘sickness’ but we never set out to gross peo out. The radio show actually got us into re trouble than the TV

series. ‘9 Steve Pembert The show is screened before an audieriy if things die a death

'It just goes to show how it can reach out; you hear things like the butcher's shop we used was going to close down but now it's thriving because so many people are going to buy his special sausages.‘

Steve Pemberton

there, then we’d ac mistake. But some of t had them in stitches an use; simply whether it’ TL You’ve doing a thi strong was the tempt were ahead?

MG Fawlty Towers is this, but if you get pa pressure is then off and indefinitely. SP As long as it’s di " series may have felt c first;-they’re more like I dec' 6 to kill off some of the characters then ‘ome new ones.

’d that we’ve killed ‘right, who?’ They go 7 And that’s it. Hilary’s

l for a while, something pt. So, it’s like that but

we wanted it to be genuinely Christmasy; it’s full of tinsel and snow and Santas and family arguments.

TL What were you hoping to achieve with the live shows?

R5 The reaction is the pay off to not knowing how the TV series really went down. You get feedback and positive reactions but this is the first real indication that people watched it and know the characters so well.

MG It’s half ajoy and half a blessed relief. We never really knew until now that we could play this scale of venue. It’s not just a case of simply giving the audience what they want but we’re going out there and repaying their loyalty. We’ve been criticised for actually getting a round of applause and being popular. Bloody hell, what do you have to do?

TL You’ve described the TV series as Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets High Road. So, what’s the stage show? '

JD It’s Puss In Boots staged by the Grand Guignol.

TL You’ve attracted a loyal, if not obsessive, following with fans making pilgrimages to Hadfield [the real Royston Vasey]. That’s a bit

to show how it can reach out; ' s like the butcher’s shop we ng to close down but now it’s se so many people are going to lsausages. Icelandic coach parties and all

st Of The Summer Wine there

was so right for technical

d a great High Street, and that

al made it so suitable for the

with the hills around. In its stark

way, it’s really beautiful.

by’ Brown is a big fan, what e

u Vase being his real name and his appearanc! pellent local mayor in the second s r y other unexpected

celebrity supporters?

All Ronnie C

MG You wou v u. ht it was his cup of tea but i cry of the Edinburgh F ' terical and terribly famili '

Evening Stan us saying that than he would

‘o .'nginThe “'3 id about ', “4n rplaces _