{ TI. Does being a team of best friends help or


MG We‘re not a team which has been brought together by a producer. and that has kept us very strong. Trying to introduce other people into the mix would be anathema because no one knows it better than us and we would just resent that. In the early days. we were told that we should have two girls in the team and that a

sketch should only be a minute and a half

long. Btit it's the show that actually breaks the rules that becomes the next one to be imitated. TL Among the names you could have had are Porn Dwarves. Stage Mother. General Crack and The Ladyboys. So. why did you settle on The League Of Gentlemen?

MG I loved the film and at that stage it seemed quite obscure; then we discovered that Robert Fripp named one of his bands that.

JD And we were all big Toyah fans. so obviously that sealed it.

MG And it was also the name of the followers of the Scarlet Pimpernel. So. it’s a totally hackneyed. mainstream name.

Tl. What's the story behind that stirring theme tune?

JD Initially. we wanted Michael Nyman and went to his agent btit it wasn‘t going to happen: however they recommended Joby

Talbot who had arranged and orchestrated for Nyman and he was in the Divine Comedy. who we’re all big fans of.

MG lt sort of sounds like a 50s mystery series. SP When we first met him. we said we wanted it to be jolly like a comedy show but also [lowers voice] dark and scary. And he said 'but. how. eh. what?‘ In the end. it‘s perfect. TL How would you categorise your act: sketch show. comedy/drama. drama/comedy. what? What is it?

RS We can never decide what it is.

MG lt's referred to officially as broken comedy. And we haven't lived it yet.

TL You're all big film fans btit do you watch TV?

MG We watch far too much daytime telly. Jeremy and I stop at three for Through The Keyhole just to see how far they've scraped that day.

JD In fact. they've asked you on. haven‘t they? MG That really is how bad it gets.

RS ls that a joke? They've asked you to be on Through The Keyhole?

MG I know someone in research.

JD Btit who wants the humiliation of Wolf

from Gladiators not knowing who you are? MG We saw one recently where they had to identify a writer and. unbelievably. it was

Alice Thomas Ellis.

JD On the panel were Bobby Davro and live Pollard and there was a sportsman . . . who was it?

MG Kriss Akabussi. And someone guessed Bernice Reubens and David Frost says [adopts perfect nasal whine] 'no. another Catholic novelist'. Brilliant.

TL What are your memories of the Fringe and the Perrier win?

RS We've won many awards since then btit I don‘t think any will be as exciting as that again. We were like. ‘my God. other people like it'.

RS It‘s not human flesh. I‘ll tell you that.

JD Everyone presumes it's meat.

The Others [I is meat. though. isn‘t it?

JD It's called 'stuff'.

SP I don't really think people want an answer to that.

MG In the end. it’s the mystery that will endure.

RS lt‘s tofu.

MG He's embarrassed to sell it. he’s a vegetarian butcher.

A Local Book For Local People is published by Fourth Estate priced £12.99; the first series is available on BBC Video priced £15.99.


The League Of Gentlemen City Hall, Newcastle, Wed 15 Nov 1r it * it

Left to right: Newcastle fans dressed for the occasion; old style dinner jackets in the first half and TV costumes in the second

The show is a mix of the new and familiar; sketches of two supporters objecting to their indecisive new centre forward Hamlet, and the imagined erotic gOings-on during Scott's Antarctic venture meet old faves plucked word-for-word from the ' series such as Papa Lazarou’s ’Dave’ entrance and the ’friends’ bedding down to

Translating TV programmes into a stageshow has always been an area rife with peril. The more Visually surreal and subtly Cinematic your show, the bigger scope there appears for ending on y0ur rear. Which is why the likes of Newman and Baddiel fared better than Reeves and Mortimer when that crossover was attempted in the days when comedy was the new rock ’n’ roll. These days, an art form which throws up Chris Morris, Human Remains and the League Of Gentlemen, comedy is more like an updated Theatre Of Cruelty.

Returning to the Tyne to tease audiences for a second time on their gold-dust ticketed tour otherwise billed as 'local shows for local people’ the League offer a show of two very different halves. The first harks back to the days when they were whipping up storms at the Edinburgh Fringe. Their dinner suits give off a sense of elegance (only football scaives and daneg earrings add to the costume bill) and also act as a blank canvas which is overlaid with both terror and silliness to warp that ’50phistication’.

explain the rules of Johnny Go-Go Go-Go. Meanwhile Tubbs, Edward, Pauline and Les McQueen are given new material to get their very different teeth into.

It was always going to be difficult bringing together out-of-context scenes from the show and unseen characters making their public debut, but in a new album/greatest hits kind of way, it works. It’ll be hard to forget the hero(ine) worship afforded to Pauline and Papa Lazarou when they take to the stage for the first time while the ambition of recreating the deadly wastelands of Royston Vasey is dramatically fulfilled at the beginning of part two.

It would perhaps have seemed wrong to have taken their audience this far and not given them a third series, so it must be a heartfelt relief to the fans dressed in civvy uniform and those who came as Hilary Briss and Pauline that the lights haven’t quite gone on out on those dark stars of Royston Vasey. (Brian Donaldson) I The League Of Gentlemen play Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 5 Dec; Clyde Auditor/um, Glasgow, Wed 6 Dec.

16 THE LIST 30 Nov—14 Dec 2000