The series chronicles the lives of the fictional Brothers Faversham, nine men who 'straddled the Victorian era like a mighty change-Titan.' (Twins Perceus and Lucius share an episode between them.) Each episode also features miscellaneous material, such as spoof adverts. The exceptions are the specials, which take place in other historical settings:
- Guy Fawkes (November 2009): a Bonfire Night special, guest-starring Kevin Eldon, about Fawkes' role in the Gunpowder Plot and his subsequent execution.
- Revolution (July 2011): a recap of The French Revolution as seen by Maximilien Robespierre (Richard E. Grant) and sixteen-year-old Marie Thérèse (Sally Hawkins).
- Hereward The Wake (December 2012): a Boxing-Day special about 11th Century would-be folk hero Hereward the Wake. The framing device stars Justin Edwards narrating as a historian descended from Hereward whose obsession with his ancestor has caused the breakdown of his marriage.
- Macbeth Rebothered (December 2014).
- Odyssey (October 2015): a retelling of the Odyssey, featuring Robert Webb as Odysseus.
- The Curse of the Beagle(July 2016): a special telling the tale of Charles Darwin's encounters with Argentinians and the legendary beast known as 'Kurupira' during the voyage in which he first developed his theory of evolution.
- Le Carre On Spying (July 2017).
- Don Quixote (August 2018).
- Hadrian's Beard (August 2019).
- Richard III Rebothered (April 2020).
The specials and the Brothers Faversham episodes are often viewed as separate shows, due to their different subject matter and home stations, but the British Comedy Guide regards them as the same, and they are listed as the same program with their broadcaster BBC Radio 4 Extra (previously BBC Radio 7). Whether you regard them as the same show or not, all episodes can be listened to for free on the BBC website here.
The Penny Dreadfuls Present... contains examples of:
- A Boy and His X: Augustus Faversham and his best friend Admiral Dog, although the dog considers their relationship more of a casual acquaintance.
- Accidental Murder: Lucius kills Perceus on the day of their graduation. Perceus had concealed his invention of a candy floss (cotton candy) machine from him, and Lucius destroyed it with a fire-axe out of jealousy upon finding it. Perceus had tried to stop him and gotten in the way of Lucius' swinging. With his dying breath, Perceus revealed that the candy floss machine was intended as a graduation present for Lucius.Lucius: I smashed at it! Until it was just splinters, and gears, and blood... so much blood.
- The Ace: Each of the Brothers Faversham is the best at their chosen profession. The family includes Victorian Britain's greatest soldier, detective, explorer, magician-turned-megalomaniac, sportsman, horror writer, actor, and industrialists. Best exemplified by a sports teachers description of Titus Faversham.Sports Teacher: That's T.C. Faversham - best flinger, hitter, or kicker of anything at anything with anything I've ever seen!
- Acid Reflux Nightmare:
- Horatius dreams of his ex-girlfriend Susan beckoning him to join her on a beautiful ship made of jam; he resolves to stop eating cheese before bed.
- A Parody Commercial appears for a solution to this problem for those who enjoy cheese before bed, but dislike the nightmares; caffeinated cheese.
- Act Break: The Brothers Faversham episode have this, along with commercials (unusually for both a BBC program note , and a radio program). The commercials themselves though are entirely comedic and part of the show, advertising Victorian themed products.
- Action Girl: The mother of the Faversham family, super-sexy super-spy Lady Alexandra.
- Adaptational Heroism: Richard III, to contrast his usual depiction. In "Richard III Rebothered", he commits none of the villainous actions he likely was responsible for in reality; even supposing the real Richard did not order the murder of his nephews, it is thought he was very likely responsible for the evidence which supposedly delegitimised them. In this adaptation, all the evil things are a plot between Henry Tudor, Elizabeth Woodville, and Henry's mother Margaret Stanley, and Richard is very much a Hero with Bad Publicity.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Lord Buckingham has arrived bearing news of great importance to the soon-to-be Richard III:Lord Buckingham: I have come straight from the pulpit of a principled and dependable priest who gave unto my protection this particularly precious parchment. A parchment that will perchance precipitate a powerful punch-up over the premiership of our precious province!
- Angsty Surviving Twin: Lucius to Perceus. But under rather unexpected circumstances.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In "Theseus":Judge: We therefore find the defendant, His Grace, the Bishop of Gloucester, guilty on four counts of premeditated murder; five counts of arson with malice aforethought; eight of embezzlement; twelve of fraud; and one count of conspiracy to fix the results of Calverley village fête tombola.
- Artificial Limbs: After his many, many battles, Horatius is more artificial than natural.
- Artistic License – History:
- In-universe. The Faversham estate's assistant gamekeeper is said to have killed Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, though the narration notes that Napoleon didn't die at Waterloo.
- "Richard III Rebothered" depicts the Princes in the Tower as having been imprisoned/kept safe in the tower their entire lives, with Little Richie describing it as "pretty much our whole thing". In reality, the Princes were only kept cloistered in the tower for a few months in 1483 before their disappearance, supposedly for their protection before the coronation of Edward as King Edward V.
- Badass Cape: Hereward's is green.
- Bad Boss: Lucius, in contrast to Perceus. He hires a bankrupt man whose shop he has repossessed as an unpaid intern for 4 years, and employs the man's daughters in a match factory for wages of tuppence-a-month - charging them room-and-board for tuppence-a-month.Lucius: Tell me, how are your girls at inhaling large quantities of sulfur?
- Bait-and-Switch: Horatius is describing his many injuries:Horatius: See this leg? Wooden. [wooden thump] [...] See this eye? [ting] Crystal. [...] This wrist [wooden thump], this rib [wooden thump], and my head [repeated wooden thumps] are all fine - but my hand is teak.
- Barefoot Poverty: After they run out of black paint to give the appearance of shoes, TC and his wife Julia give their children shoes made of newspaper.
- Believing Their Own Lies: Maximilian's fame goes to his head, and he starts believing his gothic horror persona that he put on for his fans, going so far as to claim to himself that he could summon a demon with a snap of his fingers.
- Bestiality Is Depraved:
- Uncle Watty was nicknamed "Starfish" by his old officer comrades, but the officer relaying this to Horatius can't recall whether it was because he looked like one or because he had sex with one.
- Implied when Odysseus' mother refers to the time when he put lipstick on a dolphin.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: TC and his classmates are about to set off on a cross-country race. Their sports teacher Mr. Roberts tells them that they are to set off on the first shot of his starting pistol. The "angry, angry dogs" will be released on his second shot. They are told that if the students hear a third shot, Mr Roberts has probably shot himself to avoid being ripped apart by angry, angry dogs.Eckersley: You're actually a bit quicker than I thought you'd be.
TC: Come on, we can still win this race.
Eckersley: Oh God, poor Mr Roberts!
- Big "NO!": Lady Alexandra lets one out when Le Chevalier curses the unborn Augustus.
- Birthday Party Goes Wrong: Subverted. Augustus has become a children's entertainer in the twilight of his life. At the 5th birthday of one Sammy Sharpe, he has a fatal heart attack while hiding in a cake. Rather than ruining the party, it is held up by the boy's friends for years as the ultimate 5th birthday, as it involved a real-life dead clown.
- Bling of War: Captain Robert Fitzroy of the HMS Beagle petitioned his superiors to have his iron cannons replaced with gold ones (as the large masses of iron interfered with his magnetic navigation equipment), but they refused as they thought it was "too fabulous, even for the Royal Navy".
- Blunt "No": Grubb gives one to his old school teacher after the man comments how much he has grown since graduation.Sports Teacher: Grubb, from the class of '39! Haven't you grown!
- Boisterous Bruiser: Hereward. Leonidas too; in a game of conkers note where the winner gets to hit the loser on the head with their conker, he caves in the other boys skull.
- Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: Lady Alexandra foils a gang of them in Russia. Possibly related to the similar gang Marcus comes up against in London, some years later.
- Book Ends: "Augustus" begins and ends with a pregnant Lady Alexandra foiling the latest plans of Le Chevalier.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Augustus has no friends, or lovers, or pets, or friendly pet-lovers.
- Brick Joke: In "Maximilian", the short ropes for lowering coffins into the grave fail to come in handy when Edward falls into the well.
- British Brevity: The series consists of two four-episode seasons, and a variety of one-off specials.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Professor Barlass sets his students homework of writing a series of successful romantic novels based on their chemistry textbooks, and believes it clear from the effect of a particular medicine upon the body that a particular football team is sure to win the championship.
- Cain and Abel: Lucius and Perceus.
- Calvinball: A young TC invents the game 'golfery'. The only details we are told are that it involves driving a golf ball as hard as you can, then trying to shoot it in mid-air with a bow-and-arrow.
- The Cameo: Leonidas and Lady Alexandra show up halfway through "Augustus" for Augustus's birthday party (the only instance of a Faversham brother appearing outside of their own episode, and of Lady Alexandra appearing outside a Cold Open).
- Career-Ending Injury: TC's cricket bat has shattered, and if he doesn't bat the next cricket ball, the British Empire will be destroyed. He chooses to use the soccer move of 'heading' the ball - winning the match. But the impact of a rock hard cricket ball travelling at 90mph against his skull leaves his mental capacity permanently damaged, and he loses his Improbable Sports Skills. He spends the rest of his life as a sports commentator.
- Cartoon Bomb: A gang of anarchists plant one in Queen Victoria's royal theatre box. Marcus can tell immediately what it is; it has the word 'bomb' painted on the side.
- The Casanova: Horatius has no trouble with the ladies when he is younger; as Victorian Britain's greatest soldier, Good-Looking Privates is heavily in play.
- Chekhov's Skill: Faversham's Soccer Heading Trick.
- Clark Kenting: The monocle of Le Chevalier is apparently enough to stop even one's own family from recognising the wearer.
- Cold Open: Several of the Faversham episodes open with a scene depicting the birth of the brother in question (during a pitched brawl, while climbing a mountain, etc.), before the opening credits.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- Upon hearing the news that his brother Edward IV's marriage was illegitimate (and thus he is now king), Richard III's first thought is to lament the waste of a good wedding marquee.
- Mr Bluff being told the new direction the factory will take:Percy: Oh, but we shan't be making buttons, Mr Bluff. We shall be making something far more magical!
Mr Bluff: Duffels!
Percy: N-no, Mr Bluff. Chocolate!
- Contrived Coincidence: Appears in a parody of car insurance claim adverts.Victorian Accident Solicitor: Have you been involved in an automobile accident that wasn't your fault? What are the chances! There are only eleven cars!
- Cool Sword: Hereward's father's sword, The Sexy Camilla which is inherited by Hereward. Hereward's father found it mysteriously lodged in a stone... Gareth Stone, the local village idiot, to be precise.
- Creepy Twins: The young Perceus and Lucius, at least according to Nanny O'Brien. She claims that it's not natural for two people to look so alike, and that the two infants playing with building blocks are "building a stairway to the heavens so they can kill Jesus!".Nanny O'Brien: You know who else was "just twins"?! Lucifer and Satan!
- Dastardly Whiplash: Lady Alexandra foils a few in the course of her career, notably Le Chevalier. Lucius only narrowly averts this trope by not quite being one-dimensional; his villainy maybe be hammy and smug, but he does at least have convincing motives.
- Death Notification: Theseus' medicine tutor Professor Barlass informs him that his sweetheart Alice has been killed, in a very unique manner.Professor Barlass: I believe it was Euclidides of Halicarnassus who said, "There's no easy way to tell a university student that his girlfriend is dead".
- Death of a Child: In "Maximilian", Edward falls into a well and is killed. The Mood Whiplash is lampshaded and Played for Laughs.Narrator: Occasionally his eyes would flit from Ivy to Father Barrowman beside her, who was himself too distraught to carry out the ceremony, and finally to the four foot coffin set out before the congregation. My God, isn't this terribly depressing for a comedy show? Find out after these messages!
- Didn't Think This Through: Upon learning of Grubb's evil plot while at his factory in Gibraltar, TC rushes back to England to foil the match at Lord's Cricket Ground. Unfortunately, he chooses to swim backnote . He quickly regrets the decision, but presses onwards.
- Doomsday Device: Le Chevalier builds a device he calls the ionotron. However, rather than being a huge bomb, or city-destroying laser, the ionotron will make everyone in London queasy, and they'll all have to take a day off work. The economy will be crippled!
- Double Entendre: King "It isn't a plan unless you make something out of wood" Odysseus saves his crew from their transformation into to pigs by the witch Circe by seducing and having sex with her until she changed them back. Once again, lives were saved with his wood.
- Downer Ending: Since the Faversham brothers' lives are documented from start to finish, these are unusually common for a comedy show. Played for Laughs in "Augustus":Narrator: Sammy Sharpe went on to be killed on the first day of the Somme. Yeah, not laughing now, are we? [Closing theme music]
- Dramatic Thunder: During Lucius' evil rant on the balcony. He eventually decides being out on the balcony of an evil tower during a thunderstorm isn't the safest.Lucius: Crap, that lightning was close!
- Dying Curse: Le Chevalier curses Lady Alexandra after she wins their duel through what he perceives to be treacheryLe Chevalier: I curse you, Alexandra Faversham, and I curse the child within your womb! That child shall know my anguish. He shall be nervous. He shall be awkward. He's going to be all creepy and weird, unnerving all those he talks to. And he'll be crap at sport!
Lady Alexandra: NOOOO!
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Marcus, who dies onstage, having foiled a terrorist plot against Queen Victoria and reconciled with his best friend Arthur Chuck Norris, and to the longest round of applause in recorded history. According to Arthur, it looks really cool.
- Eat Dirt, Cheap: Many of Victorian Britain's poor are stated to subsist on soil sandwiches and the tears of barefooted children.
- Evil Is Hammy: Frederick de Stockhenchman of "Hereward The Wake" is probably the best example.
- Evil Twin: Lucius to Perceus. Except Lucius is Perceus. Lucius accidentally killed Perceus when they were 18, and has been posing as both twins ever since.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Archbishop of York, Archie Bishop, published a Christmas horror novel entitled "The Macabre Affair That Took Place at Christmas".
- The Gentlemen of the Ather Name that appears in "Augustus" are an expy of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, being a group of Victorian superheroes, though their members are decidedly less impressive.
- Le Chevalier visits a Doctor Frankenstein expy, though the man has not yet successfully reanimated the dead. His finest achievement has been inflating a lung with a straw.
- Face Doodling: Professor Barlass draws a humorous moustache on Queen Victoria's face while she is asleep, in order to sabotage her state opening of parliament the following week.
- Face–Heel Turn: Augustus 'Le Chevalier' Faversham.
- Failed a Spot Check: A police sergeant finds the corpse of his friend, and laments that his heart must have given out; Theseus points out the pickaxe in his chest.Sergeant: Good God, you've eyes like a hawk, Doctor!
- Faking the Dead: Theseus Faversham apparently meets his end when the recently-escaped Bishop of Gloucester pushes him off a cliff. Many in the criminal underworld believe this trope is in play; Theseus having faked his death to hunt crime with impunity. Those people are wrong.
- Famed In-Story: Lady Alexandra is this. She expects all the villains she stops to know who she is without introduction. On one occasion when they don't, she tries to jog their memory, before disappointedly admitting that she was Miss National Geographic: May 1841, which they do recognise.
- Family Theme Naming: The most of the Faversham Brothers are all named Latin names: Horatius, Theseus, Augustus, Titus, Maximilian, Marcus, Perceus, and Lucius. Leonidas is an Odd Name Out, being Greek instead of Latin, as well as Maximilian, for not following the as/us ending theme.
- Father, I Want to Marry My Brother: When Richard III tells his nephews they can ask him any question they like, they ask a barrage of questions, ending with Edward asking if he can marry his brother Little Richie.
- The Future Will Be Better: Robespierre's vision for the France, which involves We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future.
- Germanic Efficiency: Horatius' clinical honesty to the Countess Gretchen von Maxi von Icecreamsandwich about how for a German she's not wholly repugnant to the eye "excites [her] hormonally".
- Headless Horseman: Subverted in "Hereward The Wake":Thorkel: And leading the charge, a headless horseman - with the gruesome head of a man balanced upon his shoulders!
- Heroic Sacrifice: Marcus dies taking a bullet for Arthur when anarchists try to shoot him in revenge for the pair foiling their bombing of Queen Victoria.
- His Name Really Is "Barkeep": The Archbishop of York used to be a horror writer before he took the cloth. Max is astounded to learn his true identity.Maximilian: You're Archie Bishop?
- Historical In-Joke: While on his charm offensive tour of England, Richard III states he has no connection to Leicester whatsoever. As later stated in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, his grave would be found centuries later under car park in Leicester.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: As in reality, Robespierre is ultimately put to death on the guillotine he liked so much. Maria Theresa points out that the irony goes deeper, Robespierre having come to embody traits he demonised in the aristocracy -"You have given the people a taste for regicide and now you have made yourself king."
- Honor Before Reason: TC absolutely refuses to become a professional sportsman when it becomes clear the days of the amateur sportsman are numbered, despite his being The Ace at every physical activity and his family being in utter poverty. His wife Julia (herself a national badminton champion) fully supports this decision, and in fact inspires him to continue when he begins to have doubts.TC: Doing something for money? Sounds a little bit like being a shopkeeper. My father always said, "when a man is ready to become a shopkeeper, he's already proved beyond doubt he's a total prostitute".
- Hot Paint Job: While repairing their ship on Circe's island, Odysseus instructs his crew to paint a huge fireball up the side of the ship, saying how cool it will look.
- Hurricane of Puns: The convicted Bishop of Gloucester spends four hours devising a flock of bird puns to freak out Theseus Faversham, whom he has been told is afraid of birds. Theseus (who is not afraid of birds) is baffled by this, and has no idea where the Bishop heard it from.The Bishop of Gloucester: Since you've succeeded in robin me of my freedom, I suppose you're now cock of the walk? Yes - I'll tern the tables, then you won't be puffin a-
Theseus: [Interrupting] Sorry, sorry, why do you keep making bird references?
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Said word-for-word by Le Chevalier in his swordfight with Lady Alexandra. Unfortunately for him, she has a secret of her own:Lady Alexandra: I've got a gun. [Boom, Headshot!]
- Impersonating an Officer: A minor villain impersonating a Scottish Police Inspector, exposed by Theseus, who doesn't realise that it's actually against the law. Theseus informs him that it's actually taken quite seriously.
- Interactive Narrator: Appears on one occasion where Horatius is having a Flashback Cut recalling what Susan's mother said to him. The flashback disagrees with the narrator on what exactly was said.Narrator: Even now, years later, he could not forget her mother's solemn promise.
Susan's Mother: [ghostly, echoing voice] If you come near her, I'll poison her, and all your loved ones...
Narrator: ...pretty sure she didn't say that earlier.
Susan's Mother: [ghostly, echoing voice] Yes I diiid...
- Interdisciplinary Sleuth: Theseus draws on his medical training to solve crimes.
- International Showdown by Proxy: In "Titus", Grubb has created the New Zealand cricket team with the aim of defeating the English cricket team. If New Zealand wins, the world will see that the British Empire is Not So Invincible After All, and the Empire will crumble overnight.
- Jumping Out of a Cake: In a similar variant to the 'stripper suffocates' version, Augustus Faversham was crouching inside of a cake, dressed as a clown for a childs birthday party when he had a fatal heart attack.
- The Killer Was Left-Handed: From only the gunshot wounds on (over a hundred) corpses, Theseus is able to deduce the make of the murder weapon, that the killer is 6'6'', left-handed, and has recently been to Belgium.Fishmonger: You don't mean Cesar 'Lofty-Lefty' Auguste? [...] He's too busy paying off his immense gambling debts to murder anyone!
- Lady Drunk: Nanny O'Brien is a working-class Oirish variation, heavily overlapping with Cloudcuckoolander.
- Lame Pun Reaction: The audience lets out a terrific groan and pained laughter at Athena's description of Circe.Odysseus: Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go seduce a stupid witch.
Athena: [currently in the form of an owl] Yes, you have a twit to woo.note
- Large Ham: Although every episode features plenty of Chewing the Scenery, the character of Leonidas Faversham clearly draws heavily on BRIAN BLESSED.
- Larynx Dissonance: Harriet, a wealthy older woman who flatters Marcus, sounds like an extremely Camp Straight man. Turns out she's a camp lesbian.
- Last Request: TC is lying on his deathbed, and aims his boyhood golfery bow-and-arrow out the window, requesting that wherever the arrow lands, he be buried there. In accordance with his wishes, he is buried in the bedroom ceiling.
- Legacy Character: "Le Chevalier" is a moniker passed down from villain-to-villain, embodied by the monocle they each wear.The Previous Le Chevalier: I am not le first Chevalier, nor shall I be le last.
- Lemony Narrator: The narrator states that it would only be a downer after his reunion with his childhood sweetheart to reveal that after breaking his ankle while rock-climbing, Maximilian was Eaten Alive by ravens. Yes, best not to mention it...
- Legion of Lost Souls: Horatius joins the French Foreign Legion after high society shuns him for attempting to drown his girlfriends mother in a fountain. Several of his comrades describe their own crimes; one ate a live puppy for a bet; another tricked a busload of pensioners over a cliff "and into a Pyramid Scheme".
- The Lost Lenore: Alice Bowley is one for Theseus. They were deeply in love while at university, but she was murdered by being fired from a circus cannon into a penguin enclosure by Professor Barlass.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Odysseus and crew encounter the trope namers. Eurilicus argues that they weren't to know they would be overcome by a magical "blissful forgetfulness", but Odysseus shoot him down by describing what was really going on; they were all tripping balls on lotus flowers.
- Love at First Sight: Happens several times. Some of the Faversham brothers fall in love the moment they see their love interests. Both Horatius and Theseus declare their love within moments of meeting their love interests. Best illustrated with Theseus and his university girlfriend Alice upon meeting in the university library:Theseus: I'm Theseus Faversham. Thanks [for sharing this book].
Alice: No problem.
Theseus: I love you!
Alice: I love you too!
- Love-Obstructing Parents: Horatius and his beloved Susan are kept apart by Susan's parents. The two have only been conversing for a few seconds as children (during which they have already declared their undying love for each other) before her father declares they are moving away. Later in life, the pair meet coincidentally at a wedding, and Susan's mother tries to drag her away. This time, Horatius takes exception and tries to drown her in a fountain.
- Love Redeems: Augustus makes a Heel–Face Turn after he is told how proud his family is of him, and how much they love him.
- MacGuffin: Le Chevalier seeks the Omega Device. If he gets his hands on it he'll next-to-unstoppable, or worse: actually unstoppable.
- Mad Scientist: Le Chevalier attempts to form a Legion of Doom incorporating one of these, but the mad scientist in question doesn't have the time.Mad Scientist: [monotone] Could you come back later? I have just sewn a chaffinch to my ballllls...
- Magical Asian: Mr Chang is one, though he takes exception to people thinking he has powers because he is Asian.Chang: And just because I'm Chinese, I'm supposed to know all about the dark mystical arts?
Augustus: It's not because you're Chinese, it's because of the sign outside that says, "Mr. Chang: Master of the Dark Arts"!
- Massive Numbered Siblings: There are nine Faversham brothers - their father Sir Digby has trouble keeping track.Sir Digby: Which one are you?
Augustus: Number four!
Sir Digby: Bloody hell, really? I have been busy.
- Master Actor: Marcus Faversham is Victorian Britain's greatest actor. Unfortunately, he also becomes a huge Prima Donna. As his epitaph reads:All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. But I was the best at acting.
- Medium Awareness: The narrator displays this at times.Narrator: What will become of our intrepid hero? And why am I asking you? I've got a bloody script in my hand!
- Mistaken for Pregnant: Inverted. In the cold open to "Horatius", Lady Alexandra asks the villain if he would really kill a pregnant woman. The villain is surprised that she is pregnant; Alexandra asks what he thought was going on with her stomach.
- Mixed Metaphor: Grubb makes one of these before he reveals his Evil Plan to TC.Grubb: Oh, that is only the tip of the iceberg. I think you'll find if you follow the iceberg below water-level, the rabbit hole goes a lot deeper than you thought. The question is: dare you peel back the mask of ignorance?
- Monumental Damage: Lady Alexandra chases a villain into the tunnels below London, and informs him that the explosives he has set are in the wrong place if he wants to blow up the Buckingham Palace. But she is completely incorrect about his target; he's going to blow up the River Thames.
- Morton's Fork: Anarchists intending to bomb Queen Victoria have locked up Arthur and Marcus before Marcus is due to perform for her. If Marcus warns the Queen, Arthur will be shot. If Marcus doesn't warn the Queen, she'll be blown up.Arthur: Oh, what a pickle.
- Motive Rant: Pops up in "Perceus & Lucius", "Theseus", and by Grubb in "Titus". Also appears in "Richard III Rebothered", given by Margaret Stanley.
- Nobody Poops: Averted. When Percy goes to confront his foreman Mr. Bluff over his embezzlement, he asks that Mr. Bluff call his wife Pauline to the door. Pauline Bluff yells back that she's on the toilet.Mr. Bluff: Pauline! Guest!
Pauline Bluff: I'm shitting!
Mr. Bluff: She'll-she'll be out in a second...
- Noodle Incident: Princess Nausiccea's father the King commiserates with Odysseus after hearing about how Circe transformed his crew into pigs. The King states from "bitter personal experience" that pigs are terrible at rowing.
- No OSHA Compliance: The factory Percy buys is rated a 6 on the "limb endangerment scale", although Mr. Bluff indicates this is a fairly good score.
- No Party Like a Donner Party:
- After a disastrous battle in which he is the only survivor left stranded in the mountains of the Hindu Kush, Horatius is forced to eat the corpses of his comrades to survive. When he goes to get revenge on the General who fled the battle leaving his forces to die, Horatius is interrupted by another soldier seeking revenge for a different massacre. Horatius tries to claim dibs by citing that he had to eat his comrades; the other soldier counters by saying that his comrades had to eat him.
- Discussed when Leonidas is on an expedition to the North Pole with the Swedish Arnulfsson and American Truman Winchester III. Leo however, much to the frustration of his teammates, doesn't believe in bringing rations. He takes one of his teammates aside to say that with him being English and his teammate American, they should gang up on the Swede and eat him if things get hairy - only for it be revealed that it is the Swede under the cold-weather gear he is talking to.Leonidas: BLOODY SKI MASKS!
- Oh, Crap!: A minor criminal smugly tells Theseus only the initials of his boss, then has this reaction when Theseus immediately figures out his bosses identity, His Grace, the Bishop of Gloucester.Criminal: Oh, tits!
- Old Money: The Favershams are a subversion; they come from old money, but Sir Digby Faversham invested wisely in forks to make a lot of new money.
- Old Soldier: Horatius is one by the end of his life, as is his mentor in the art of warfare, the Faversham's Uncle Watty.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Titus Carnegie Baracus Faversham, better known as TC. Likewise, Perceus is almost exclusively referred to as Percy; even his employees call him "Mr. Percy".
- Our Sirens Are Different: These sirens lure men in by singing a cover of Willie Dixon's "I Just Want to Make Love to You". Accompanied with a kazoo.Odysseus: By all the gods, make it stop! I can't take it! Please, it's just. Too. Sexy!
- Passionate Sports Girl: TC marries Julia Noones, British badminton champion.
- Parody Commercial: There is one or two in in every Faversham episode, forming act breaks. The adverts largely parody modern adverts by placing them in a Victorian context. For instance, car accident solicitors (when less than a dozen cars exist).
- Pet the Dog: Lady Alexandra tells Augustus that his entire family was proud of his magic trick of making the Bank of England disappear. It's apparently all Sir Digby has talked about in the last 7 years.
- Phony Psychic: Maximilian claims to commune with the dead in order to boost his book sales, although he eventually starts buying into his own hype.
- Polar Opposite Twins: Charming Uncle Pennybags Percy and megalomaniacal Rival Turned Evil Lucius. Supposedly.
- Pregnant Badass: Lady Alexandra's job description."[...] Victorian Britain's most pregnant and deadly agent."
- The Prima Donna: Marcus, after taking a level in jerkass. He wanders the halls of his theatre after hours, ranting about bad reviews.
- Rage Breaking Point: Eurilicus has finally had enough of Odysseus' Glory Hound ways, and constant bragging about building the Trojan Horse as if he were the only one who had anything to do with it. Eurilicus points out that he was beside Odysseus the entire time.Odysseus: The problem was, you see, that we couldn't scale the Trojan defences-
Eurilicus: We know! WE WERE THERE!
- Rebel Leader: Catesby in "Guy Fawkes", Robespierre in "Revolution" and Hereward in "Hereward The Wake".
- Rebellious Rebel: Fawkes in "Guy Fawkes" and Thurston in "Hereward The Wake".
- Recycled In Space: An advert appears for re-imagined works of Shakespeare. A theatre is putting on productions of "Hamlet in India", "Richard III: Umpire", and "Macbeth in the Future".The Three Witches: All hail Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! Thane of Cawdor! King of the Moon!
- Retired Badass: Sir Digby Faversham is one, having fought in the Battle of Waterloo, even capturing an Imperial Eagle.
- Schizo Tech: The kingdom of Princess Nausiccea has ships that are guided by thought alone, and robotic guard dogs, yet still wash clothes by hand in the sea. Odysseus lampshades it, but they seem to prefer it this way.King: Nausiccea my darling, how was your morning? Clothes nice and salty now, are they?
- Scylla and Charybdis: As in the original tale, Odysseus and crew must sail between the trope namers; as he puts it, they were literally "between the devil and the deep blue big sucky monster."
- Self-Serving Memory: Odysseus devised the plan to build the Trojan Horse, and carried it out with 50 of his men. His Glory Hound and It's All About Me nature eventually lead him to believe that not only did he come up with the idea of building a giant wooden horse (which in fairness, is true), but that he was the only one in it at the time. This has the effect of driving Eurilicus to a Rage Breaking Point.
- Shades of Conflict
- Black-and-White Morality: Most of the Brothers Faversham episodes. The brothers can good, evil, or both (though not at the same time).
- Grey-and-Gray Morality: "Revolution" and "Guy Fawkes". "Hereward The Wake" is too silly and too busy poking fun at Hereward's heroism to spend much time dwelling on morality, but it's more like Black-and-Grey Morality.
- Sherlock Scan: Subverted when Theseus is apparently able to tell an amazing amount of detail from the point of impact of the pickaxe sticking out of a murder victims chest, including that the murderer was well-known to the victim, about 5'7'', had a slight limp, thinning red hair, and was missing the tip of his right ring finger, but:Hobbs: And you got all that just from the point of impact?
Theseus: That, and the man trying to hide behind the pot plant. Hello, yes, you.
- To Star Wars. "Maximilian" recreates the "faith in your friends" confrontation, while "You are a traitor and a member of the rebel alliance" appears word-for-word in "Perceus & Lucius".
- One of Max's horror novels (The House That Was A Scary House) ends identically to The Sixth Sense.
- To Harry Potter: apparently a priest-in-training's school supplies consist of cassocks, cauldrons, and magic wands.
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Several, mostly during "Marcus". Fittingly, as the episode chronicles the life of Victorian Britain's greatest actor.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Hereward to Frederick, although afterwards it seems the speech got to him after all.
- Sole Survivor: Horatius ends up as the sole survivor of two separate battles, once in the French Foreign Legion, and another while in the British Army in Afghanistan.
- Spared by the Adaptation: The Princes in the Tower, (the would-be Edward V, and Richard, Duke of Shrewsbury) are not murdered as children on the orders of their uncle Richard III as is thought to have been the case in real life. Instead they are locked in a cabin in the woods, where they live in their 30s.
- Spoof Aesop: The moral of the story of Richard III is stated to be "never underestimate the Welsh".
- Spooky Séance: An animated short featuring Maximilian performing a séance was released on the official BBC Youtube channel. The seance features the obligatory skeptic, who is immediately converted.
- Spotting the Thread:
- Theseus catches a criminal after he notices that at a party, the criminal praised the hostess's cake. The cake was awful, and if the man could lie about that, he could lie about anything.
- A minor villain impersonating a Scottish Police Inspector has an utterly perfect disguise - "not a porridge oat, or chip-on-shoulder out of place". However, Theseus is able to unmask him because his disguise is too perfectly Scottish; the imposter knows all the words to Auld Lang Syne. No Scotsman knows all the words to Auld Lang Syne.
- Squick: In-universe. Le Chevalier attempts to recruit Jack the Ripper into his Legion of Doom. He finds the man himself pleasant, but is put off by his scarf made of the labia of his victims.
- Stage Magician: Augustus, his mentor the Great Amazingo, and other stage magicians Augustus duels on the Underground Magic Slam circuit.
- Stage Name: Augustus has a few goes at coming up with his stage name. We hear "The Wand", "Lenny Magic", "Super Jesus", and "the Iron Maiden", before he decides on one - "the Mighty, Mighty Gnome-Priest!".
- Take That!:
- In-universe. Leonidas is able to convince a bank manager to give him a loan to fund an expedition, on the condition that Leo name a country after the bank manager. He does; the British Virgin Islands.
- TC has suffered a severe head injury that has left him unable to continue his sporting career. To make a living, he takes a job suited to the elderly and the "mentally sub-normal": professional sports commentator.
- Tear Jerker: In-universe. Anarchists have planted a bomb under Queen Victoria's seat at the theatre, but if Marcus and Arthur openly warn her, the anarchists will shoot Arthur. In an effort to get the Queen to leave without actually warning her, the pair hit upon the idea of writing a play so incredibly, heart-wrenchingly sad that she will leave rather than be seen crying in public. The resultant play is entitled: "A Child Being Optimistic in the Face of Everything Dying".
- Third-Person Person: Maximilian becomes one after success goes to his head.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Surprisingly, for a series set in Victorian times. Theseus encounters them in one of his greatest detective cases: "Theseus Faversham vs. the Time-Germans".
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Lady Alexandra throws her sword into the chest of Le Chevalier.
- Tiny Tim Template: Theseus is mentioned as making a house-call to check up on one of his patients fitting this description.Hobbs: How is Tiny Nigel?
Theseus: Really tremendously small.
- Too Dumb to Live:
- The Faversham's Uncle Lupus dies trying to extract alcohol from his stomach in order to drink it again.
- How Horatius dies: when competing with a drugged boxing gorilla at the circus, he gouges and fishhooks the unfortunate animal despite being told not to, enraging it enough to overcome the sedatives. The gorilla proceeds to rip his arm off and he bleeds to death on the floor.
- Twin Switch: Lucius accidentally killed Perceus when they were 18, and has been posing as both twins ever since.Lucius: I am the only Percy you know.
- Uncle Pennybags: Percy. The model village he builds for his employees, Happy Town, is based on the principles of 'healthcare, housing and sweeties for all.'
- The Un-Favourite: Augustus, whose family are only too keen to get rid of him. His mother brought a packed suitcase for him to his birthday party (which wasn't even his party - it was the Henley Regatta, but she didn't bother to correct him) and foists him off on the Great Amazingo when the opportunity presents itself.
- Unreliable Narrator: Princess Nausiccea sees problems with Odysseus' tale of being attacked by a clan of one-eyed giants, followed by being attacked by a clan of two-eyed giants in the same way.Odysseus: I'm not making this up, you know! I mean, who do you think I am? Just some bum who gets lost, went mad drinking seawater, and then ate of all his crew? [cackles insanely]
- Unusual Euphemism: An incredibly huge part of the narrations humour, such that there are far, far too many cases to mention. An example: when Maximilian's gothic horror fans are following him to an exorcism he will perform, they are said to be following "like angsty, suckling lambs to the gloom-teat".
- Victorian London
- Violent Glaswegian: Listed amongst Leonidas' greatest exploring achievements are his survey of Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, crossing 2000 miles of desert while dressed as Shakespeare for a bet, and spending one night on a park bench in Dundee.
- We Can Rule Together: Le Chevalier tries this on Lady Alexandra, offering her control of any part of the world she likes. Except Devon. No, he has plans for Devon.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer…: The members of the Gentlemen of the Ather Name are unimaginative in their strategies for dealing with the returned Le Chevalier; the Owl Convener proposes downing his airships with a Zerg Rush of owls, and the Bamboozler suggests they bamboozle him with a perfect replica of London.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Appears at the end of "Richard III Rebothered".
- Richard III's burial site was discovered over 500 years after his death, under a large letter R,; standing not for "Richard", but for "reserved parking space".
- Elizabeth Woodville is discarded by Henry VII after he takes the throne, and banished to a nunnery in Bermondsey. She takes solace in the fact that she is the hottest nun there.
- Elizabeth of York gives birth to Henry VIII.
- Edward and Little Richie are never rescued from the cabin where they were taken by Buckingham, but instead they take the apples in the surrounding forest and invent the juice bar, living happy lives running it until their deaths in their early thirties.
- Queen Anne's simply states that she was played by Kristin Scott Thomas, then later by Winona Ryder, and to this day, she has never been played well.
- Jasper Tudor, Henry VII's uncle, did indeed marry one of the Woodville sisters, and fathered many children - with other, less attractive women.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Mr. Bluff (Percy's foreman) believes this of him; he embezzles money from Percy to make ends meet, believing that Percy is an imbecile because of how jolly and optimistic he is and thus will never find out.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Augustus Faversham after his Face–Heel Turn to become le next Chevalier.
- You Monster!: TC calls Grubb monstrous after learning of his plan to destroy the British Empire through cricket.