The League of Gentlemen to film their three new specials next month

Troupe break their silence on their return: "“We look forward to digging up the old characters - some of them literally - and seeing how life has treated them"

League of gentlemen 1

The League of Gentlemen will start filming their three new specials next month, heralding a return for many of the old favourites from Royston Vasey.

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The troupe – Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearmsith, Steve Pemberton and Jeremy Dyson –  have also finally given the first indications about what their return may hold in store.

“We are thrilled to bits to be returning to Royston Vasey in celebration of our 20 years at the BBC (with time off for bad behaviour),” their statement said.

“We look forward to digging up the old characters – some of them literally – and seeing how life has treated them. It’s been great fun to write these Specials, and we’ve saved money on the make-up budget by kindly growing ancient ourselves. Like the sign says: You’ll Never Leave.”

Earlier this week the BBC confirmed that the show will return to mark 20 years since the show’s radio debut. The new shows will air later this year on BBC 2.

The comedians have long been discussing their intention of marking the anniversary, with Steve Pemberton telling RadioTimes.com in February this year:  “It will be a very difficult thing to do, to go back and try and imagine what Royston Vasey will be like now, or whether it’s changed at all.”

Last year Gatiss, who’s also written Doctor Who and Sherlock, said that Britain’s decision to leave the EU made a return more likely and urgent.

Referring to the famous sketch involving the ‘local shop’ presided over by Edward Tattsyrup and his wife Tubbs, he said: “Increasingly we have become a local country for local people and I wonder if there is something Brexity in us that we can do.”

The comedy finished on BBC2 in 2002 and was followed by a film in 2005, The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse.

Memorable characters included Barbra Dixon, the transsexual taxi driver, local butcher Hilary Briss who served a ‘special meat’ (that was almost certainly human flesh) and sinister clown Papa Lazarou, who called everyone “Dave” and enjoyed kidnapping people while repeating his catchphrase: “You’re my wife now!”

BBC2 controller Patrick Holland has also spoken about their return today: “The League of Gentlemen are comedy heroes of mine and I am delighted they are returning to BBC2. Added to brilliant upcoming shows like Motherland, the second series of Mum, and the return of Upstart Crow, Two is the home to the most amazing, original, British comedy.”

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BBC comedy controller Shane Allen added:  “Their body of work set a new standard for sketch comedy and saw them become the most original, distinct and influential writer performers since Monty Python. This return to their roots is a thrill for British comedy fans everywhere”.