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Feature: The League of Gentlemen Apocalypse

Perfect Gentlemen

The visible League of Gentlemen

On the eve of unleashing the Apocalypse on DVD, The League of Gentlemen grant an exclusive interview to Ultimate DVD

On October 3 the Apocalypse is coming to DVD. The first movie from The League of Gentlemen, the comic collaboration of Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson, sees the dark and twisted fiction of Royston Vasey colliding with our own reality. Four months on from its theatrical release, the movie will enjoy its second wind – and The League are only too aware that its life on disc is important.

“Personally I think unless the film is a blockbuster the DVD release is actually becoming more important than the cinema release,” says Gatiss, who brings life to the characters of butcher Hilary Briss, incompetent vet Doctor Chinnery and job-seeking Mickey Michaels.

“We found when we tried to raise money for this film it was predicated by how well our DVDs had sold. There was a dedicated market there and it was felt this would do well on DVD. They put an awful lot into advertising the theatrical release, but it’s quite sobering how the film comes and goes. Unless you’re a really big film, the DVD is where it is now.”

It’s also a natural home for The League, who embraced the format back in the days when most TV releases were extras-free.

“We feel that we pioneered TV DVDs being the equivalent of film ones,” says Gatiss. “When we look back at our first series, which actually seems quite spare now as there’s only one disc, because we were such fans of DVDs we wanted to try and put as much stuff on it as possible.”

“We were thinking about what we were going to put on the DVD even before we shot the film,” continues Pemberton (Herr Lipp, Tubbs Tattsyrup, Pauline Campbell-Jones…). “It’s a really good way of doing it and gives you an insight from the inside, as opposed to from an outsider’s point of view.”

A quick potted history of The League of Gentlemen: Gatiss, Pemberton, Shearsmith and Dyson first met at college, bonding through their obsessive interest in film and television and a shared black humour. Thus was born Royston Vasey, a fictional northern town where locals were not welcome, populated by some 60 grotesquely funny creations, all played by the group (never comfortable with acting, Dyson contributes through writing). They first performed together at the Canal Café Theatre in 1996, which led to the Edinburgh Festival where they walked away with the coveted Perrier Award. This in turn attracted the interest of the BBC, who signed them to Radio 4, where On the Town with the League of Gentlemen would take the Sony Silver award. Brought to television, the format would reach new audiences through three series and a Christmas Special – and attract more industry recognition, most notably the Golden Rose of Montreaux.

by Harry Thompson

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Ultimate DVD #71

Photo © UIP
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Ultimate DVD #71
October 2005
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