British Sketch Comedy/Sitcom, with a very dark tone of humour, and plenty of horror trappings.Set in the town of Royston Vasey (or Spent, in the original radio version), the show focuses on the very strange lives of the inhabitants: their warped obsessions, quirks and relationships. Also notable in that almost all characters are played by one of only three actors: Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith, and Mark Gatiss. (Fourth musketeer Jeremy Dyson is part of the writing team, and is occasionally seen in cameos.)Came forty-first in Britain's Best Sitcom.Not to be confused with;
Call Back/Call Forward: Pop's line about wanting a daughter as well as sons can be seen as a callback to Chloe and Radclyffe's line about Val. Given the twins' implied psychic abilities, and the similar context of both lines, however, it may be that the girls were making deliberate reference to something that hadn't happened yet.
Caught with Your Pants Down: Parodied and inverted. Harvey Denton has a peculiar paranoia about walking in on his nephew, Benjamin, and has an entire, Spit Take-inducing collection of Unusual Euphemisms ready. There has never been any concrete evidence of Benjamin actually masturbating.
In Series 2, Herr Lipp was essentially a creep and a sociopath; in the Christmas Special, though still a nasty pederast, he at least shows some compassion and sacrifices himself to save Matthew. By the time we get to the Movie, he is a kind and caring guy (even his turn to violence is intended to save the locals from what he believes to be endless misery) who is incidentally campy, a far cry from the selfish date-rapist he originally was.
In Series 1, Val is quite uncomfortable with Harvey's eccentric behaviour, however by Series 2, she seems blithely unaware he's utterly dotty. Maybe she just got better at covering her embarrassment. Also, Val and Harvey seemed to regard Benjamin a bit of a nuisance initially, but by Series 2, were doing everything they could to keep him in Royston Vasey.
Evil Plan: Papa Lazarou's rather complicated machinations involving turning people into circus animals. You'd think it would just be easier to just...get some ordinary circus animals. Presumably he does it For the Evulz.
Exposition of Immortality: When Papa Lazarou is going through his Book of Wives in Season Three, some of the photos are clearly old, sepia ones that heavily imply that he's a lot older than he appears. There are more on the wall of his room, too.
Eye Scream: Hilary Briss is seen scaring children with a pair of sheep's eyes, which he then eats.
Fan Disservice: Tubbs torturing the construction men while dancing around nude "The Road to Royston Vasey."
The Denton's Nude Day.
Barbara in a wedding dress that exposes her backside.
Fat Idiot: Barry Baggs, the debt collector. Also a Big Eater. In the live show "The League of Gentlemen Are Behind You", his idiot status is subverted—and may even have been Obfuscating Stupidity—when he outwits and (in the epilogue) replaces his boss.
Barbara: Have you heard what they're saying about the Beast of Royston Vasey?
Mrs. Levinson: Now, Barbara, people can be very cruel.
Grotesque Gallery: Because almost all of the characters are played by the same three actors, a variety of prosthetics are used, some of which are profoundly hideous. Of particular note are Edward, Tubbs, Iris, Harvey, Bernice, Mickey, Vinnie & Reenie, Ally, and Herr Lipp.
Happily Married: There are quite a lot of (very odd) people in Royston Vasey who have a blissful relationship with their (even odder) spouse. Edward & Tubbs, and Val & Harvey stand out.
Have You Told Anyone Else?: Subverted in the Job Center storyline, when Ross admits no one else knows about his report on Pauline, even adding that all the information is within a single folder he has right there—but Pauline accepts defeat anyway.
In the original radio series, this trope was played straight, but the writers gave it a more creative spin for the TV version.
Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Hilary becomes one of these. He's on the same side as Geoff and Herr Lip, but he's still an amoral killer.
David Tattsyrup becomes a The Voice variant after Tubbs and Edward take him back in.
"Our Julie", Charlie and Stella Hull's daughter is The Ghost. She's at college or otherwise out every time we see the Hulls. The trope becomes even more justified in the second live show, where it is revealed that she drowned in the bath, ten years previously.
Homage: Edward frequently references The Wicker Man, and Chloe & Radclyffe obviously parody The Shining. Papa Lazarou's introductory episode features a few quotes from Freaks, and Geoff's subplot in Season 2 parodied Deliverance. In fact, at least one horror movie gets referenced per episode.
Hospital Hottie: One of the few times an actual woman appeared on the show was when Al brought home a nurse named Patricia as a date. Unfortunately, Pop ruined everything by loudly talking about how great the film version of Watership Down is, discussing porn, and trying to steal Patricia.
Human Resources: The obvious assumption as to the identity of Hilary's "special stuff", although the creators have Jossed this, pointing out they would never come up with something so unoriginal. It's something even worse...
Hypocritical Humour: Ollie tells an audience that he is not going to patronize them, because they aren't children. He then proceeds to explain what "patronizing" means in very... uh, condescending tones.
Also, after Chris Frost outlines his Knight Templar security guard policies to a group of recruits, a lot of merchandise falls out of his sleeve.
I Love the Dead: Mortician Owen Fallowfield puts a bit too much of himself into his work.
Incoming Ham: Both Edward and Pauline must announce their presence every time they enter a room.
Innocent Innuendo: One scene starts as though Benjamin is being forced to perform oral sex on Harvey. It turns out he's just cleaning a scrub-brush.
Another episode has one woman afraid that her doctor is trying to extort sex out of her in exchange for treatment. It turns out that he instead wants to force her to play party games. In a creepy way, though.
I Take Offense to That Last One: When Pauline is described as a "psychotic fifty year-old lesbian," she only objects to one of those accusations. ("I'm forty-eight!") Although it turns out she's bisexual.
Killed Off for Real: Doubly subverted with the Tattsyrups, who appear to be killed at the end of Season 2, but are revealed to have survived at the beginning of Season 3, only to die again, for real this time.
Triply! They return for the movie as well, and presumably survive (it's not made clear)
In episode two of Season 1 The Road To Royston Vasey, two construction workers visit the Local Shop and end up being abducted by Tubbs and Edward. Their names? Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd.
"Royston Vasey" is the real name of comedian Roy "Chubby" Brown, who appears in a Cameo as the mayor. The mayor's name is Larry Vaughn, which is also the name of the mayor in Jaws. Recursive Shout-Out!
Transparent Closet: Herr Lip reveals to Justin that "I am a queen." Justin pretends to be astounded out of politeness.
The Twink: In Season 2, Herr Lip has a crush on a not-quite-legal schoolboy named Justin Smart. In the Christmas Special, he has a similiar crush on a boy named Matthew Parker.
Write Who You Know: The Legz Akimbo theatre troupe are based on the League members' experiences in community theatre, and Pauline is based on an actual restart officer Reece Shearsmith had. Papa Lazarou and Pop are Shearsmith's and Pemberton's respective reinterpretations of Peter Papalazarou, a Greek landlord they once shared, who was always unwilling to speak to Reece and would always demand to talk to Steve, even when he wasn't there, hence Papa Lazarou's eternal quest to speak to Dave.
The Vicar: Bernice Woodall, the world's meanest clergywoman. One imagines there are not many Church of England vicars who have told a parishoner to "piss off home". On Christmas Eve. When said parishioner was in tears.