What time is The League of Gentlemen on TV this Christmas?

The boys are back in Royston Vasey for some more special stuff this December – and it’s brilliant says Ben Dowell

Programme Name: The League of Gentlemen Anniversary Specials - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 3) - Picture Shows:  Edward (REECE SHEARSMITH), Tubbs (STEVE PEMBERTON), Supporting Artists - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ben Blackall

Okey, cokey pig in a pokey, your local show for local people The League of Gentlemen is back for three new specials to mark 20 years since its radio debut.

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The pitch-black comedy finished on BBC2 in 2002 and was followed by a film in 2005, The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse. But since then… nothing.

What is The League of Gentlemen about?

The new shows reunites Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson as the residents of fictional Royston Vasey. The crazy northern town (the real name of comedian Roy “Chubby” Brown, as it happens) is a dangerous place full of wild eccentrics and menace.

Characters include Edward and Tubbs Tattsyrup – owners of the “local shop” which we last saw burning down – and Benjamin, the hapless visitor and one of the few sane people around (“normal’ people often don’t last long but he is clearly made of stern stuff). Other memorable characters included the local butcher Hilary Briss (played by Gatiss) who served a ‘special meat’ and sinister clown Papa Lazarou, who called everyone “Dave” and enjoyed kidnapping people while repeating his catchphrase: “You’re my wife now!”

What time is The League of Gentlemen on TV?

The BBC are stripping the return across the BBC 2 schedule in the week before Christmas as a pre-Yuletide treat. So it will air on Monday 18th December, Tuesday 19th December and Wednesday 20th December. All episodes will be broadcast at 10pm on BBC2. Find out what else is on TV this Christmas.

Who is in the cast?

Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith play all the main characters, although expect some surprise castings in store, with Car Share’s Sian Gibson popping up in a cameo role in episode one. Fellow writer Jeremy Dyson doesn’t appear – but with the League of Gentlemen you never know what might happen….

Is it any good?

Time may have moved on in Royston Vasey since series three ended in 2002, and you may notice one or two more contemporary touches. For example, the town now has a food bank and Babbs the cross dressing taxi driver is very much up on the latest in politically-correct language.

But the quartet astutely combine the right amount of nostalgic reminiscence with a clever sense of how age may have withered the nutjobs and cranks of this classic comedy. The local shop has burned down (though the Tattsyrups may have escaped unsinged – no spoilers here) and Ross is back at Pauline’s job seekers’ class. But there’s always an unexpected twist to complement the twistedness.

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At their best the League were like a Millennial Monty Python and there is more than enough extreme, unsparing, fantastically boundary-free hilarity for both fan and newcomer alike to send the hairs prickling on the back of your head. Plus there’s a clever in-joke reminder at the end of episode one of the many superb things the boys have been up to in the intervening years. But be careful – once you’ve had a taste of their special stuff you may never want to leave…