By Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, and Reece Shearsmith
BBC Studios for BBC Two
Monday, 18th–Wednesday, 20th December 2017
Royston Vasey is to be wiped off the face of the earth by boundary changes: ‘The county are moving the boundary line to exclude Royston Vasey. It’ll bring down crime statistics, unemployment, missing persons.’ Meanwhile, the locals are getting on with their lives: Pop is back from the dead, Mickey and Ross are helping Pauline with her dementia, and Mike wants Geoff to kill his fat wife, without drawing attention to himself.
The proposed boundary changes pit the authorities against Edward and Tubbs Tattsyrup, who are now running their shop from a condemned block of council flats. The cast can’t help having a bit of Brexit fun with these two: ‘This is a local shop for local people. It’s time we took back control.’ But this is forgivable in a series that remains full of un-PC filth and laughs out loud. Such as Geoff trying to settle on a modus operandi:
‘Excuse me. Would this kill a fat woman tonight?’
Or Mickey, on the ‘complex’ relationship between Ross and Pauline:
‘’E bummed her.’
Though actually, many of the relationships in The League of Gentlemen are complex, and this shouldn’t be overlooked on account of the filth. Because there are also moments of real pathos, like the dialogue between Charlie, his ex (Stella), his new boyfriend (Gordon), and Stella’s new man (Scott). The four direct their fears and desires at the waiter in an Italian restaurant:
CHARLIE: She’s deflecting, Luigi.
STELLA: Can he not allow me to be happy, Luigi?
CHARLIE: I never stopped loving her, Luigi.
STELLA: I only want to have fun, Luigi.
CHARLIE: Gordon never listens to me, Luigi.
STELLA: Scott’s got a temper on him, Luigi.
CHARLIE: He’s put so much weight on, Luigi.
GORDON: I’ve got a slow metabolism, Luigi.
SCOTT: We’re going now, Luigi.
STELLA: Don’t let him take me, Luigi.
SCOTT: She can have hers in a doggy bag, Luigi.
GORDON: I’m just a mouth to him, Luigi.
CHARLIE: I pretend it’s Stella, Luigi.
STELLA: I lie to the doctors, Luigi.
SCOTT: My mother died young, Luigi.
CHARLIE: I’m more lonely when I’m with him, Luigi.
GORDON: I’ve confused love with food, Luigi.
STELLA: I’m just so frightened, Luigi.
SCOTT: She can’t make me hard, Luigi.
GORDON: Help us, Luigi.
STELLA: What do we do, Luigi?
CHARLIE: How do we choose, Luigi?
I think this is a stunning piece of writing, and an example of full-blooded comedy having more virtue as drama than does most comedy drama. It also, to my mind, justifies the lack of political correctness: when the creators of Royston Vasey laugh at its inhabitants – the crime statistics, unemployment, and missing persons – the laughter is not merely cruel.
Luigi, Charlie, Stella, Scott, and Gordon