Follow TV Tropes

Following

Series / The League of Gentlemen

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/localshop.jpg
A Local Show for local people. There's nothing for you here.

Welcome to Royston Vasey. You'll never leave.
Advertisement:

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.)

The show ran from 1999 to 2002, which included three series and a Christmas Special. It also had two live shows in 2001 and 2006 respectively, as well as a feature length movie in 2005. A fourth series consisting of three episodes aired in December 2017, in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of when the show originally debuted on BBC Radio in 1997.

Advertisement:

Came forty-first in Britain's Best Sitcom.

Not to be confused with;


Advertisement:

Contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Even though Papa Lazarou is completely outlandish, like most of the characters, the terror he invokes is very real. The possibility that someone could so easily take away a family member without prompt or cause is terrifying. Best demonstrated in the third season with Brian who's looking for his missing wife.
  • Afraid of Blood: Papa Lazarou is so freaked at one point, he runs out of his own show. Granted, it's probably nosebleeds which he's probably never encountered before, rather than the actual sight of blood.
  • Aerith and Bob: Chloe & Radclyffe.
  • All Devouring Black Hole Loan Sharks: Parodied with Mr. Lisgoe and his incompetent collectors.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Charlie and Stella Hull
  • And I Must Scream: The animals in Papa Lazarou's circus, who are really the cells of his human victims. They do scream, actually, but no one can hear them... although as of the 2017 specials, they seem to have managed to escape.
  • Animal Motifs: Harvey Denton is obsessed with toads, and collects them. He also greatly resembles one, and the interior of the Denton home has a sort of a dull green colour scheme, like a lily pond.
    • Similarly, Edward and Tubbs Tattsyrup (pictured above) both have piggy noses and live in filth. Tubbs has also been seen breastfeeding a piglet.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • Series 2: Numerous casualties of the 'special stuff' pandemic including Mayor Vaughan, and David is also burnt to death by a mob. Tubbs and Edward are burnt too but they get better.
    • Series 3: Lance Longthorne, The joke shop owner is killed when his new arm jumps in the way to save Pauline from a crashing van.
    • Apocalypse: Hilary Briss is killed by Doctor Pea, a character that escapes from the movie-within-a-movie 'The King's Evil's'
    • Anniversary special: Pauline is murdered by Geoff, in a bodged assassination on Cheryl when he goes to the wrong house. Pop is also killed by one of his abused sons and Uncle Harvey also dies of ill health, Val and the twins resurrect him temporarily but in the end let him go when he's too annoying with cleaning.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Reece actually looks pretty good as Judee Levinson, Stella Hull and Olive Kilshaw.
    • Not to mention Mark Gatiss as Val Denton and Gina Beasley.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Charlie and Stella are a husband and wife with a tempestuous relationship. They have grown to hate each other and quarrel endlessly, using unwilling third parties as mediators. These include their daughter's boyfriend Tony, a waiter, and a baby.
  • BBC Quarry: Parodied in "Stump Hole Caverns" in a one-shot sketch on The League of Gentlemen:
    Tour Guide: Back then you couldn't move down here for Cybermen. In fact, I remember one incident where Tom Baker sprained his ankle on that rock there. Which just goes to show how easily accidents happen...
  • Baa-Bomb: Various animals inadvertently explode at the hands of Mr. Chinnery. These range from a cow to a hamster.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Pam Doove, who became The Unintelligible whenever it was time for her to speak a single, easy line. Played with in that in-universe her unintelligible phrase becomes a popular meme, her advert is actually filmed and broadcast and, in the minds of the writers according to the DVD Commentary, she becomes a famous actress and wins an Oscar.
  • Bad Santa: You can't get much worse than Papa Lazarou as Father Christmas.
  • Beserker Tears: Chloe (or Radcliffe) talking about her father Harvey Denton: "You wouldn't want to make him angry. I once saw him beat a man until both he and the man were crying."
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: The Tattsyrup family are said to have a bit of pig in their ancestry (which turns up in their noses), and Hilary Briss is married to a cow. The extent of their relationship is unclear.
    • A Local Book For Local People makes it somewhat clearer.
  • Bitter Wedding Speech: Bad idea choosing Geoff as your best man, Mike...
  • Big Bad: The series has many interjecting plots with almost every one of them having a person who fills this role. Some plots are more arc-based however with a villain's choices affecting the grander scale of things making them this for the whole town of Royston Vasey.
    • Series One: Edward is the dominant one of the Local Shop Killers. Edward and Tubbs make the Beast of Royston Vasey by kidnapping the animals from the roundabout zoo in order to prevent the new road that will connect the town to the outside world from being built, kill Benjamin's friend and later kidnap him.
    • Series 2: Hilary Briss who distributes the special stuff that turns Royston Vasey into chaos was up to his insidious ways from the first series but was out of focus until the Nosebleed Plague in the second series. Ironically said chaos happens without his scheming or even desire.
    • Series 3: The van crashing is the force that affects all the stories. Seriously though since the stories are independent the closest to this appears in the final episode and is none other than Papa Lazarou whose twisted plans are finally revealed to the audience.
    • Anniversary Specials: The frackers responsible for Royston Vasey's boundary being changed and causing a protest mob. It's Papa Lazarou behind it who has created a 'wife mine' and implied to be the one who forced Mayor Bernice to approve of the fracking spot.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Dialogue between Herr Lipp, Lotte and Justin at the climax of Lipp's attempts to seduce the schoolboy. Lotte tries to warn Justin about Lipp in German:
    Herr Lipp "Er konnt kein Deutsch. Er ist meine junge."note 
    Lotte "Denn Gott hilfe ihn."note 
  • Blackface: The very creepy Papa Lazarou is a subversion. That's what he really looks like.
  • Brother Chuck: None of the Dentons appear in Season 3. We can assume that Benjamin finally escaped from Royston Vasey, but the fate of Val and Harvey is left vague. The 2017 specials show that they did get out of the cell, but Harvey died some time later.
  • Buried Alive: The fate of Justin Smart, although he is given a funnel through which to breathe.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: The Book of Wives
  • The Butcher: Hilary Briss, a literal butcher who sells some kind of very illegal and hideously immoral "special stuff".
  • 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.
  • Calvin Ball: "Go Johnny Go Go Go Go" which amusingly becomes a calvin ball for one of the players Mike King, who gets increasingly frustrated with the over-complicated rules that he has never even heard of but the other two somehow know perfectly.
  • Camp Gay: Herr Lip, Keith Drop.
  • Campbell Country: Royston Vasey is... odd. Initially a comedy, the sense that the town is just a mask for insanity, evil and genuinely disturbing horror grows as the series progresses.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Pop
  • Cast Full of Writers: The writing credit read "The Cast and Jeremy Dyson", and it's roughly that literal—beyond crowd scenes and the occasional woman, you'd be hard-pressed to find a single character not played by series writers Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton or Reece Shearsmith.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Tubbs: "Are you local?"
    • Edward "Hello, hello? What's going on? What's all this shouting? We'll have no trouble here!"
      • Both of the above: "This is a local shop, for local people. There's nothing for you here!"
    • Papa Lazarou: "You're my wife now!" and "Hello Dave!" The former has been subject to Catch Phrase Interruptus.
      • In the 2017 series "You're my wife now" is parodied. Papa Lazarou has trapped numerous women - including Tubbs! - in an underground cave. "It's a wife mine now!"
    • Pauline Campbell-Jones: "Okey-cokey! Pig in a pokey!", "Dole-scum!", "Piss off, Ross!"
    • Geoff: "You always knew I had this gun!"
    • Pop: "Call me Pop!"
    • Les: "It's a shit business. Glad I'm out of it."
    • Ernest Foot: "Was it something I said?"
    • Christopher Frost: "Chalk 'em up!"
    • Alvin: "Home is the hunter!"
    • Harvey: "In this house, we (completely absurd rule)."
      • Even when his ghost possesses Benjamin in the anniversary series. "In this house, we don't die!"
  • Cats Are Mean: A variation that invokes this without cats themselves being mean. Cat enthusiast Dougall Siepp is a scary guy.
  • 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.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: Les McQueen tries loudly to claim his failure to become a pop star doesn't upset him, saying "It's a shit business. I'm glad I'm out of it." No-one is fooled.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Les McQueen mentions Roy "Chubby" Brown's cover of "Alice". Chubby appeared in the second season as the Mayor of Royston Vasey (which was named after his real name).
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • 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.
    • Val and Harvey seemed to regard Benjamin as a bit of a nuisance (at least where Harvey's personal space is concerned) initially and it wasn't entirely clear if they used the chores they forced on him as a subtle excuse to keep him there or if they just felt entitled to his services and wanted to control and take the most ouf of him. By Series 2, they were doing everything they could to keep him in Royston Vasey, losing all subtleness in the meantime and making clear that the former was the case.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Hilary Briss gives these a lot often as a non-verbal way of communicating to other knowing individuals in front of third parties that his meat has something to do with what transpires.
  • Chess with Death: The stage show has a man gambling his soul against an ambiguously diabolical figure. However, the devil figure doesn't want to play chess; he wants to play "Go Johnny Go Go Go Go".
  • Christmas Special, complete with Bad Santa
  • Circus of Fear: Papa Lazarou's circus might qualify as a subversion. While Papa Lazarou's appearance is pure Nightmare Fuel and he spends all his spare time kidnapping women ("You're my wife now!") Royston Vasey is already so full of freaks that the circus soon flees in terror, as the town is too weird even for them.
  • Corpsing: Shearsmith, with Pauline, during the live show.
  • Corrupt Hick: Tubbs and Edward Tattsyrup, an implicitly incestuous couple of serial killers who run the Local Shop.
  • Crapsack World: Royston Vasey is the sort of city where stealing wheels from bicycles and wheelchairs (with people on them) are an everyday occurence, where lost, old people can be left to die and rot in rooftops, and where noone bats an eye at job ads for organ stealing or at public toilets where people drown.
  • Comic Trio: Most of the characters are divided into groups of three, mirroring the actors themselves.
  • Continuity Nod: At the end of Season 2 Hilary Briss escapes to the Caribbean. During Season 3, a newspaper headline can be seen declaring "Mysterious Nosebleed Outbreak In Carribean!" which implies that he either has very rich provisions or that his suppliers are that well-connected. Either way the meat circle is repeated.
    • Papa Lazarou makes off with Rev. Bernice in the Christmas special. The season three premiere's poster gag is "Have You Seen Our Vicar?"
  • Creepy Twins: The twins who leave a man tied to a scarecrow, so they have someone to talk to. Their names are Chloe and Radclyffe Denton, they are implied to have Psychic Powers and Offscreen Teleportation, and they are deceptively monstrous.
  • Cult: Solutions, Inc. in the Christmas Special.
    • Edward and Tubbs unexpectedly form a Cult of Personality in the anniversary specials after Tubbs accidentally airs a hostage video. Following the literal media circus that descends upon Royston Vasey in the wake of the hostage negotiation, crowds of protesters gather around the inbred couple's derelict apartment block, with many fans wearing celotape to hold their noses up in imitation of the duo's piggish deformity. The media inevitably turn the whole thing into a political drama, which Edward is all too keen to exploit for his xenophobic messages.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Harvey Denton has a bizarre paranoia about walking into the living room to find his nephew, Benjamin, "shaking the hot, white coconuts from the tree of love", "conducting himself in a solo symphony", or engaged in any other of a slew of Unusual Euphemisms.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Most episodes of Season 3 focus on previously-minor characters.
  • A Death In The Lime Light: Lance Longthorne, a previously one episode character, has almost an entire episode of his own in season 3, in which he gains a new arm that is still controlled by its deceased previous owner. Said arm eventually motivates him to perform a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Death Is Dramatic: Ultimately subverted with Edward and Tubbs, who get a properly dramatic death scene, but then it turns out that they're not dead. While leaving town, they are suddenly killed by a train.
    • Also averted with Harvey and Val. It's ambiguous whether they even die, although considering where they were left, suffocation seems likely.
    • Another aversion would be the death of Vinnie, which comes right out of nowhere. Mostly killed off so that Reece Shearsmith could spend the rest of the episode playing Keith Drop, and another character...
  • Depraved Homosexual: Herr Lipp is a spoof of this trope.
  • Dinner and a Show: Does anyone in Royston Vasey eat a meal without an argument? If so, we've never seen it.
  • Dirty Old Man: Pop is not only perverted but also extremely violent when provoked which means he can force himself upon his son's girlfriend right in front of him and get away with it.
  • The Ditz: Mickey, who is clearly mentally disabled.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the Christmas Special, Matthew Parker's denouncement of Herr Lip as a vampire uses the phrase "I know what you are! You're trying to turn me into one of you!" Lip, who isn't a vampire ("I am just a queen!"), is understandably hurt by this.
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr Ira Carlton is a GP who works in Royston Vasey, and a particularly unsympathetic one. If a patient's illness cannot be remedied by pills or medicines from a chemist, he refuses to treat them unless they buy his time by playing party games at his house. He has a habit of crunching Polo mints without sucking them. Dr Carlton is emphatic with his patients that "we'll do things PROPERLY". One of his patients is the tearful Mrs Beasley, who also visits the Charity Shop in Series 2. If the patients appear to demonstrate traits often ascribed to hypochondriacs, he orders them to "go out would you!".
  • Dumb Is Good: Tubbs is shown to be not entirely responsible for the crimes she commits with Edward, because she is obviously mentally unsound. It's probably genetic.
    • Mickey.
  • Easily Forgiven: In the stage show, Tubbs is forgiven by God and welcomed into the Kingdom of Swansea (long story), but Edward has to go to Hell.
  • Easy Sex Change: Partly averted for comedy effect when Barbara of Babs' Cabs is a trans woman who is some years into the process ("I've only been on the hormone treatments eighteen months. Me nipples are like bullets.") and dresses and presents as a woman, and is referred to and treated as a woman by all the other inhabitants of Royston Vasey, but still speaks with a deep, growly voice and has excessively hairy arms is to all intents and purposes clearly still physically very much a man. She describes in some wince-inducing detail the surgery she's going to be getting. Later events put Babs clearly in the realm of this trope, however, when she gets pregnant and delivers twins.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk: Played with. The people of Royston Vasey are certainly eccentric, but very, very far from harmless.
  • Eldritch Location: Welcome to Royston Vasey, you'll never leave. A very accurate claim given that half of the population rather than just being grotesque, half-insane freaks of nature, also spit at the laws of nature and have something inexplicably supernatural about them. The sheer concentration of weirdness makes the place suspect on its own as well.
  • Eleventy Zillion: Someone really should tell Tubbs "twelvty" isn't a number, because Edward isn't going to.
  • Emotionally Tongue-Tied: Harvey Denton refuses to say "The F word", which is, of course, "frog".
  • Enemy to All Living Things: Mr. Mathew Chinnery is a completely accidental version of this. He's not evil; he's just incredibly accident-prone, due to an ancestral curse.
  • Erotic Asphyxiation: Went Horribly Wrong at a fetish party, when the emcee suffered a fatal heart attack and was unable to release everyone. And none of them lived.
  • Evil Hand: Played for Laughs when the uncouth, one-armed joke shop owner gets an arm transplant. It belonged to a nun, and is much nicer than he is. It even prompts him into a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Evil Old Folks: Tubbs and Edward, who torture and sometimes kill any non-locals who intrude on their shop.
  • Evil Plan: Papa Lazarou's rather complicated machinations involving trapping people's souls inside 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.
  • Expy: Mark Gatiss based his performance of Mr. Chinnery on Peter Davison's as Tristan Farnan in the BBC production of All Creatures Great and Small.
  • Eye Scream: Hilary Briss is seen scaring children with a pair of sheep's eyes, which he then eats.
    • In the 2017, Mr. Chinnery has to treat a small girl's pet hedgehog which has become swollen with internal gases. Needless to say, this goes horribly wrong: The hedgehog explodes in a shower of blood, shooting spines everywhere. The girl and her mother take the brunt in their faces. Two of the spines are buried deep in the mother's pupils. Mr. Chinnery gets off lightly with one spine in the bridge of his nose.
  • Fag Hag: Deconstructed with Tish, who unintentionally offends the hell out of all her fairly Straight Gay friends.
  • Fake Band: Glam Rockers Creme Brulee, who supposedly were second in the Song for UK heats for the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Les McQueen, former rythm guitarist of Creme Brulee, who now works in the hospital laundry, longing for the old days when he would walk into a Royston Vasey urinal and heads would turn.
  • Family-Friendly Stripper: Flaps In Your Lap, Royston Vasey's 'premier exotic dance centre'.
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Drug: The meat served by Hilary Briss definitely serves as an analogue to a drug, including the obsessive behaviour and the nosebleeds but despite all suggestions that bring to mind a certain source, the writers have denied it, claiming that there is nothing more mundane than cannibalism and that the truth is so much worse... Which makes one wonder what the hell is he providing, unicorn meat?
  • 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.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Pop disowns his son Richie for failing to prevent a handful of Maverick bars from being stolen from the news stand.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: A rather dark take appears with Pop's two put-upon sons Al and Richie. Richie is the foolish one and it leads to him being disowned by his own father for a very small screw-up (getting a few chocolate bars stolen). Al the ostensibly responsible one, has been actually conditioned to be subservient to his father and deludedly worship him which leads to Pop ruining his life even further.
  • Forgotten Birthday: Mike and Brian try and pull this on Geoff. It doesn't end well.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Within The League of Gentlemen themselves, Mark Gatiss (the most flamboyant performances) is considered sanguine, Steve Pemberton (the biggest range) choleric, Reece Shearsmith (has some of the darker and more sinister roles) melancholic, and Jeremy Dyson (the only non-actor in the troupe) phlegmatic. On the whole however, all of them try all these different roles.
  • Freudian Excuse: The Christmas Special reveals that Rev. Bernice is so cynical and hateful because when she was a little girl, Papa Lazarou kidnapped her mother while dressed as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
  • Freudian Slip: Ollie Plimsoles' wife, Linda, has left him for another woman. And he will never let you forget it, no matter how he tries.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Subverted with kindly, accident-prone vet Mr. Chinnery.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: "Don't you do it, Hilary Briss!"
  • Fun with Acronyms: In the 2017 series Barbara has become very militant, hates the acronym LGBT, and instead suggests ACRONYM - Actively Considering Reassignment Or Not Yet Madeuptheirmind.
  • Funny Foreigner: Herr Lipp unwittingly says things that make him sound like a pedophile, which is ultimately revealed to be true. Things like "You are still erect" to mean "You are still awake".
  • The Gambling Addict: Stella spends money on scratchcards and slot machines. In the second live show, it is revealed that her daughter Julie died ten years ago - she drowned in the bath when Stella went to check the lottery numbers instead of looking after her ("It was a Rollover..." Stella cries).
  • Gay Best Friend: Rather bitterly deconstructed with self-declared Fag Hag Trish. She blithely describes her gay friends in this manner, while they — usually played by the openly-gay Mark Gatiss — roll their eyes and try to sneak away while she's not looking. The stage show takes this a step further, with a purely dramatic scene of Gatiss' character breaking up with his boyfriend over an infidelity, before she shows up to talk about how gay men can all sleep with each other with no consequences. Gatiss snaps, delivering a pretty excellent "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Generation Xerox: In The Christmas Special, we see a bit of Royston Vasey in the 1890s, including Victorian versions of Harvey, Barbara, Chinnery, Pauline, Mickey, and Ross
  • Gender Bender: Barbara the transgender cab driver.
    Barbara: Have you heard what they're saying about the Beast of Royston Vasey?
    Mrs. Levinson: Now, Barbara, people can be very cruel.
  • Glory Days: Les McQueen constantly bothers other aspiring musicians he meets, boring them with tales of a now outdated and unfashionable music era. When they politely (or in some cases impolitely) ask him to leave them alone, he does so, stating sadly (as if he is trying to convince himself of it, rather than convince whoever he is talking to): "It's a shit business; I'm glad I'm out of it."
  • 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.
  • Happy Ending Massage: Charlie starts work at a massage parlor (with a [supposedly] hot blonde woman as a front to improve business) and learns that all of his customers expected these. Still, a customer is a customer...
  • Happy Ending Override: At the end of the original series, the previously unfunny and miserable Geoff managed to finally find happiness when he was able to tell jokes to his close friends and was shown to finally be satisfied. However come the 2017 specials 15 years later, he was shown to have regressed back to his own ways and is as cynical and miserable as ever, and still at the bottom of the food chain compared to those around him. This is even more depressing if you consider aspects of the 2005 movie as canon, in which Geoff was (accidentally) responsible for saving Royston Vasey and giving the characters free will.
  • 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.
  • Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?: Deconstructed in the Christmas Special, which dealt with the Unfortunate Implications of equating gay people with bloodsucking vampires.
    I am not a vampire! I am just a queen.
  • Hazmat Suit: Parodied when a team wear hazmat suits to examine "The Beast of Royston Vasey." First Mr Chinnery throws up in his suit and then, after a The X-Files style autopsy, the Beast is revealed to be several missing zoo animals, stitched together.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: "That Merrill." Frequently mentioned by Vinnie and Reenie, but never actually appears.
    • 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.
  • Hillbilly Horrors: Even though it takes place in a town in rural England, the series is mostly this, especially Edward and Tubbs.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Harvey—or rather hoist by his own pet toad.
  • Homage: Edward frequently references The Wicker Man (1973), 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.
  • Home Nudist: One sketch had Harvey and Val celebrating "Nude Day" by spending the day at home naked.
  • Horrifying the Horror: One day a mysterious carnival named Papa Lazarou's circus dropped to Royston Vasey. It consisted of various freaks of mysterious origins including a giant, a bearded woman and three depraved dwarfs. The ringmaster himself was grinning knowing that it was his time once again to spirit away his preferred victims among the townsfolk, to have a secret feast of his own while the carnival lights would blind the people to anything else other than the feast of the funfair. It sounds like a standard dark-fantasy story and would be one if it wasn't for the uncanny and dark nature of the Royston Vasey citizens which out-freaks all the carnival employees including Papa Lazarou himself so badly that they decide to pack up their stuff at the very first night and ride away.
  • 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.
  • Hufflepuff House: The non-League members of Pauline's Restart group.
  • 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 Have You Now, My Pretty: Papa Lazarou is known for this, to the point where he collects wives and his Catchphrase is:
    "You're my wife now!"
  • I Love the Dead: Mortician Owen Fallowfield puts a bit too much of himself into his work.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass: Ollie Plimsoles
  • Karma Houdini: Papa Lazarou. Hilary Briss escapes, but is eventually killed in The Movie, though for different reasons.
  • 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 the anniversary series they are discovered squatting in a condemned block of flats (in room 9, no less!).
    • In the anniversary series Pauline is killed by Geoff in a case of mistaken identity however in the Live Again shows it is revealed that Pauline faked her death and dementia as part of an insurance scam.
    • Also in the anniversary series, Pop is terminated with extreme prejudice.
    • Ditto; Harvey was already dead at the beginning of the series, but his ghost briefly took possession of Benjamin before being driven out.
  • Kindly Vet: Subverted with a transparent Mr. Chinnery, who couldn't be more kindly but turns every attempt at treating an animal into a gruesome and usually fatal Epic Fail. Eventually revealed to be the result of an ancient curse on his ancestor. Which is easily fulfilled through his failure to think things through and pay attention to his surroundings.
  • Kitsch Collection: "Do not touch the precious things of the shop!"
  • Kneel Before Zod: Pauline (in an exercise in magazine-selling) demands that Ross beg her. This becomes an Ironic Echo when he gets her fired, and then offers to help her get her job back if she begs him.
  • Knuckle Tattos: Bernice gets these tattoos around the beginning of the second season.
  • Kubrick Stare: Both Hilary and Papa Lazarou give these a lot.
  • Lamarck Was Right: Mr. Chinnery inherits his ancestor's curse.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: after awful restart officer Pauline is sacked, she has to sit through restart sessions of her own, with an even worse one.
    Mickey: Pauline... she's worse than you!
  • Laugh Track: The series ditched the laugh track after series 2. (The original Radio series had a live studio audience.)
  • Laughably Evil: All of the villains. There are very few shows that could make a pair of incestuous Corrupt Hick Serial Killers hilarious.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Each character more or less only has one outfit, so you can tell them apart.
  • Little People Are Surreal: Papa Lazarou's circus.
  • Loan Shark: Mr. Lisgoe and his incompetent collectors in the third season.
  • Looks Like Orlok: The true form of the vampire in the Christmas Special. Herr Lip also gets to recreate Orlok's famous staircase scene.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Parodied with David, inbred son of corrupt hicks Edward and Tubbs Tattsyrup. They keep him in the attic.
  • Malaproper: Herr Lip, who keeps making not-so-Innocent Innuendo
  • Manipulative Bastard: Edward convinces Tubbs that there is no world beyond the local shop, and even turns her own son against her just to make her stay with him.
  • Meaningful Name: Ernest Foot is always "putting his foot in his mouth", so to speak, and Henry Portrait is obsessed with slasher movies.
  • Monster Clown: Papa Lazarou has some fairly clownish trappings, and runs a Circus of Fear.
  • Monster Misogyny: Papa Lazarou goes after women to make into his "wives". In a bit of a twist, though, all of the women are over 50, and he's just as dangerous towards men if they come across his path. Also, due to the format of the show, almost all the women are played by men in drag.
  • Mood Whiplash: The ending of the Christmas special.
  • Morality Pet: Mickey for Pauline.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The entire Job Centre plot thread. Includes Internal Affairs, The Mole, Heel–Face Turn, Becoming the Mask, and other things you'd expect to see in a spy movie. Except it's about an unemployment office.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Val Denton, after conspiring to have Benjamin possessed by the evil spirit of Harvey, is filled with remorse at the result and undoes the spell.
  • Mystery Meat: Played for black laughs. Hilary Briss has a special meat available for a list of select customers. The meat is highly addictive and of highly suspicious provenance and, in the second series, apparently causes death via fatal nosebleeding. Word of God, however, states that it's not human flesh. It's far, far worse.
  • Naked on Arrival: Val Denton at the beginning of the anniversary series, because it's "Nude Day". She's actually naked on the train to Royston Vasey with Benjamin (who thankfully isn't), and all the way to the house.
  • Naked People Are Funny: The Dentons have a "nude day," which they claim is the first Monday of every month. They cast aside all clothing and go about their daily duties—including going to the supermarket, the newsagent's, and the post office, totally naked. When Benjamin walks in on them naked, they force him to strip off as well and answer the door naked. Benjamin surprises the caller and brings him back to the living room, where Harvey and Val are dressed and Benjamin is humiliated.
  • Neat Freak: Val and Harvey Denton.
  • Nice Guy: Mr. Matthew Chinnery, the worst vet ever. Alvin Steele, the world's most boring swinger.
  • Nightmare Face: Papa Lazarou, full stop. There's a reason he is the image for the Live-Action TV page.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Then again, considering the nature of the film, it's probably for the best.
  • Not a Mask: Papa Lazarou's face. That's his natural skintone.
  • Not So Different: Ross's similarities to Pauline are highlighted in Series 3. As it turns out, he too loathes destitute welfare-leaches like Mickey and goes so far as to almost borrow Pauline's "dole-scum" catchphrase at one point before stopping himself. Ross even blackmails Pauline into a hate-fuck.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Papa Lazarou uses this frequently, calling people by the wrong name and flat-out ignoring what people say to him. This is his way of confusing them enough to hand over their personal items (which can sometimes overlap with marriage).
  • Old, New, Borrowed and Blue: Tubbs and Edward have an interesting local variation on this...
  • Only Sane Man: Benjamin Denton is the only sane man in the Denton home. Ross is the only sane man at the Job Centre, although he goes nuts in Season 3.
  • Oop North
    • Parodied in Live at Drury Lane with Legz Akimbo's openly exploitative foray into grown-up theatre.
  • Outside-Genre Foe: In the anniversary specials, David Morrissey's character, Chapman, is a humourless, hard-boiled hostage negotiator straight out of a mono-titular ITV1 procedural, making his confrontations with the ridiculous yet insidious Edward and Tubbs all the more hilarious.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Except even the audience is fooled, due to Economy Casting. We know that the two characters are played by the same actor, but we think nothing of it.
  • Parental Incest: Hinted at with "a son as well as daughters"/"a daughter as well as sons" in series two.
  • Punny Name: Herr Lipp.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Yeah... cunt."
  • Psychotic Smirk: Hilary Briss does this from time to time.
  • Punny Name: Ok the grotesque Herr Lipp may not have a harelip but his mouth is still nonetheless the most distinguishing (by which one means deformed) feature of his.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Papa Lazarou.
    • Hilary Briss describes himself in Season 1 as having spanned "great oceans of time."
  • Reality Ensues: After Ross gets Pauline fired as a restart officer, she ends up working in a burger bar with Mickey and gets revenge on Ross by spitting in and contaminating his burger with Mickey's help. The CCTV catches them at it and they're both fired.
  • Recursive Crossdressing: Pauline (Steve Pemberton in drag) attends a Gender Bender Costume Party dressed as Charlie Chaplin.
  • The Reveal: The biggest would probably be the one in the series finale. Keith Drop has an interesting secret.
    • Pulled again in the Anniversary Specials that Papa Lazourou is pulling the strings of the mayor and is responsible for Royston's Vasey's boundary changes and the land being sold for fracking. He's essentially took the town.
  • Scary Scarecrows
  • Serial Killer: The Tattsyrups
  • Serious Business: The Denton's hygene rules.
  • She Is All Grown Up: In the wrongest way possible.
  • Shout-Out
    • During Mr. Chinnery's ancestor arriving to Royston Vasey, we see some children waving at the train.
    • Ross' apartment is based on Patrick Bateman's.
    • Geoff preps himself to go onstage in the same manner as Jake LaMotta.
    • In the 2017 series, Episode 1 ends with a self-referential allusion: the door to the room in which Tubbs and Edward have re-created the Local Shop closes, revealing the number 9.
    • Also shouted out is "Spent" the original name for the town in the radio specials, it's said to be a neighbouring town.
    • In episode 3 of the 2017 series, a poster is seen which reads "LOST: Should have ended after Season 1." Also counts as a Take That!.
  • Show Within a Show: The plays of the Legz Akimbo theatre troupe...
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Pauline and Ross
  • Slasher Smile: Papa Lazarou and Edward, on occasion.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Pauline's love life.
  • Sound-to-Screen Adaptation
  • Speaking Simlish: The gibberish language Papa Lazarou sometimes speaks. When other characters play along by babbling, he somehow understands them.
  • Special Guest
  • The Spook: Papa Lazarou.
  • Stage Mom: Nancy and Noel Glass, husband and wife and parents to Casey, whom they enter regularly into beauty pageants despite her reluctance. While Casey is polite and quiet, her overbearing parents are stuck-up and rude, rejoicing as a child competing against their daughter falls and bursts into tears before taking the credit for their daughter's ensuing win. Casey is seen by her parents solely as a means of self-glorification and thus is neglected, at one point being nearly left behind in a car park after her inebriated parents drive off, returning for her as an afterthought. They appear in one episode in Series 3.
  • Such A Lovely Noun: "Perhaps you should have paid more attention to her. I know I did."
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: "We didn't burn him!"
    • "I didn't force her!"
    • In the 2017 specials: "We didn't cut their faces off!"
  • Synchronous Episodes: Each episode of series three takes place at around the same time, each ending with a van accident taking place. Each episode is focused mainly on a specific character, and ultimately ends with what they were doing when the accident took place, thus allowing the viewers to see a bit more of the accident each episode, until finally showing the accident from all perspectives in the finale.
  • Take Our Word for It: We never find out what is in Hilary Briss' "special stuff". His surname may be a clue...
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: The end of Season 3 has, among other things, Geoff Tipps finally able to make people laugh. Similarly, the stage show gives Les McQueen a successful solo career, but then he gets electrocuted to death by a microphone before he can sing a word.
    • Les finally gets a true happy ending in the anniversary specials. Upon being introduced to the internet, he discovers that he has an intense cult fanbase in an obscure Slavic nation. While he's hesitant to get back into the "shit business" after years of false hope, we last see him running to the train station in full rockstar gear to meet his adoring groupies.
  • Tomato Surprise: Iris and Mrs. Levinson are actually mother and daughter. The stage show ups the ante by revealing that they're really father and son.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Basically the premise of the "crime-fighting supercar" skit.
    • A villager opens to door of a portable lavatory to find it full of water, which washes out a drowned body. Once the flood subsides, he enters the lavatory.. Later in the show we see lots of bodies, and people still using the loo.
  • Too Much Information: Much of Barbara's shtick is telling people all the details of her operation. Similiarly, Iris tells a few too many things about her and Ron's sex life.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: An angry mob burns down the Local Shop at the end of the second season.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Several secrets.
  • 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.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Cathy Carter-Smith, who is even crueller to the jobseekers than Pauline was.
  • Unabashed B-Movie Fan: Meaningfully named Harry Portrait and Ally Welles, who are obsessed with horror movies. However, some of the films they watch are quite good, such as The Shining, Alien, and Stephen Loncraine's version of Richard III, starring Sir Ian McKellen. As long as it has killin's, they're happy.
  • The Unintelligible: Pam Doove is like this, but only while acting. Or (in the 2017 series) when reading the Shipping Forecast!
  • Unusual Euphemism: Harvey Denton has a wide variety of euphemisms for masturbation.
  • Urine Trouble: Tubbs is able to power a van with her urine.
  • 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.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mama Lazarou is not seen after series 2. Neither are the Dentons.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Happens in the finale of Season 3, but only for the characters who were featured in the main Road Accident storyline. A remix of the main theme entitled "While There's Still Time" plays during this.
  • World of Ham
  • Would Hit a Girl: Ross. Though as the 'girl' in question is Pauline, you couldn't really accuse him of being ungentlemanly.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Judith Buckle describes herself as the "glamourous mistress" of Alvin Steele, and seems to think she's a character in a Film Noir. She is, of course, a character in a horror comedy, and calling her a Plain Jane would probably be an insult to Plain Janes.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Any scenes with Chinnery.
  • You Are Not Ready: Hilary Briss' house special.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Invoked by Val at the end of the anniversary series. Probably refers not just to Benjamin but the cast as well.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Alvin Steele, Stella Hull, The Unseen Linda Plimsole

Also see the 2005 film, The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, which contains examples of:


“This is a local page for local people! There’s nothing for you here!”
Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report