an exclusive interview with Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss
League of Gentlemens Apocalypse Trailer Teaser
release date is now June 3rd 2005
Announce the UK Release Date
June 3rd 2005
Studios, Film Four and Tiger Aspect Pictures in association
with Hell’s Kitchen International have joined together
to bring the cult classic TV show ‘The League of Gentlemen’
to the big screen in the much anticipated...
‘The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse’.
by Steve Bendelack (League of Gentlemen, Little Britain)
‘The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse’
is brought to you from the team behind the multi-award winning
comedy TV series The League of Gentlemen. Created by and
starring Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith
and Jeremy Dyson, The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse
is due for national release as a full length, all action
movie feature on June 3rd 2005.
fictional world of Royston Vasey is facing apocalypse and
the only way to avert disaster is for our nightmarish cast
of characters to find a way into the real world and confront
their creators. From present day Soho to the fictional film
world of 17th Century Britain, the residents must overcome
countless bizarre obstacles in their bid to return Royston
Vasey to safety. In addition to featuring the most beloved
characters from the original TV series, this darkly hilarious
movie adventure also features a whole host of freakish new
creations and cameo performances from famous faces such
as David Warner, Bernard Hill, Victoria Wood, Emily Woof,
Peter Kay and Simon Pegg.
The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse is a Universal
Studios and Film Four presentation of a Tiger Aspect Pictures
production in association with Hell’s Kitchen International.
The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse is directed by
Steve Bendelack and produced by Greg Brenman and Ed Guiney.
Executive Producers are Peter Bennett-Jones, Andrew Lowe
and The League of Gentlemen.
League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse’ is distributed
in the UK and Ireland by UIP and opens nationwide on April
screenwriter, novelist, control freak, League of Gentlemen
co-founder and creator Mark Gatiss is a man of many talents,
not least his chameleon-like ability to turn himself into
any one of his hilariously sinister/tragic characters from
the cult BBC2 show. Having scripted a key episode of the
new Dr Who and completed his first novel, he is currently
filming LoG – the movie – in Ireland
Wicklow Gap is not an inherently evil place. It’s
actually one of Ireland’s purest and most beautiful
physical features, a high mountain pass through colourful,
glistening valley country. On a clear day, you would be
wonderstruck. But today the rain clouds are low enough to
claw at the ground, carried by a pitiless sub-zero wind,
mixing with the fog and blanking everything out. It’s
a miasma of dread, I tell you. So sinister it’s funny.
Which is exactly the atmosphere The League of Gentlemen
have always courted.
And right in the middle of the Gap is where the new full-length
movie-version of that horrific BBC hit comedy series is
being shot. My mother, who lives nearby, kindly drives me
up there. She’s never watched The League of Gentlemen.
I could tell her that she definitely wouldn’t get
it or like it, but that would start an argument. She doesn’t
see how they could possibly be filming on a day like this.
At first, it’s hard to tell what’s happening
– the production car park is full, but there’s
no one around. Then Steve Pemberton, actor, writer, and
co-founder of The League, strides out of the ominous whiteness
toward his trailer, dressed in full Bavarian folk-costume
as Herr Lipp, the programme’s repugnant and hilarious
German tour guide and pederast. He’s followed by a
rag-tag squad of miserable boy scouts. They’re filming
it turns out, the weather isn’t quite hostile enough
for their needs, so they’ve got the wind and rain
machines running on full power down at the set. It is here,
in the back seat of a Land Rover, half-sunk into the black
mud, that I meet Mark Gatiss, another founding Gentleman
– also a co-writer of the forthcoming, re-invented
Dr Who series, and the author of a frisky new comic novel
called The Vesuvius Club.
he says brightly, when asked why they’re filming in
Ireland. The three series of the TV show were shot on location
around Hadfield, Derbyshire, standing in for the fictional
rural outpost of Royston Vasey. The League of Gentlemen
has always been a grotesquely distorted vision of northern
England. “It’s all about the tax breaks, I’m
afraid. But the landscape makes a great double, I have to
say. A big section of the film is set in the 17th Century,
and for the rest of it the world is coming to an end, so
the location works really well in this kind of weather.”
is a reasonably handsome man – my mother said so when
I showed her his author photograph – but today he’s
so hideous I can barely look at him. He’s currently
between scenes as Hillary Briss, the vile local butcher
whose extremely suspicious and addictive “special
meat” caused a plague of fatal nosebleeds on the TV
show. His overalls are stained with viscera and his teeth
are coated in rust-coloured filth.
has already played Briss, along with more than 20 other
regular characters, in the original League of Gentlemen
live sketch show (which won the Perrier award at the Edinburgh
Fringe festival in 1997), on their BBC Radio 4 programme
(which won a Sony award), and in the TV incarnation (which
has won a Royal Television Society award, and the Golden
Rose of Montreux). This film, then, will represent the fourth
medium that the League have …
conquered, ha ha ha,” interrupts Gatiss. “But
we’ve wanted to make a movie from the start. This
is our wildest dream come true. The show was always evolving,
from separate sketches to scenes with a link, and then separate
tales based around a set of characters from the same place.
This film is about as far as we can go with it, I think,
a full-blown monster movie/disaster movie.”
Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith, and Jeremy Dyson met as drama
students at Bretton Hall in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. All
they really had in common was a shared taste for the nasty
classics of British sci-fi and horror cinema – Witchfinder
General, The Quartermass Experiment, The Wicker Man, the
Amicus studio’s portmanteau movies Torture Garden
and Dead Of Night. Gatiss had become a weirdness connoisseur
growing up in Sedgefield, Durham, opposite an Edwardian
psychiatric hospital where his father sometimes worked as
place definitely had an effect on me,” he says. “When
I was little we would go over the road and watch films with
the patients, and I remember being more concerned with looking
at frightening shapes in the shadows than whatever was on
the screen. People would routinely get out of their seats
and shuffle toward you, like in Dawn of the Dead. Obviously
I got used to it, but I think it helped me to develop quite
a strong fascination for Northern Gothic.”
recalls bonding with Pemberton over an early sketch they
wrote, about a perfectly innocent but vaguely scary father
sitting in the dark at the end of his son’s bed.
remember us crying with laughter because there was something
so real and creepy about it. My dad was a great guy, but
he worked hard, and he was a formidable presence. We wanted
to play with that odd feeling you used to get when you were
watching telly after school, and it got dark, and you heard
your dad’s car coming up the gravel driveway, and
everything suddenly became quiet and serious.”
them, The League of Gentlemen have since gradually constructed
their own myth from that kind of everyday strangeness and
irrational fear. Royston Vasey looks like any other dismal
British post-industrial village, but the joke is that your
nagging feelings of dread and oppression are entirely justified
in this case – the place is cut off from the world
and populated by monstrous malcontents who will drag you
into their psychosis. Their sicknesses are so absurd and
extreme, and your doom so inevitable, that you’ve
really got to laugh. And every resident is played by either
Gatiss, Pemberton or Shearsmith (Jeremy Dyson can write,
but he can’t act).
do prize the performance aspect of it,” says Gatiss.
“It’s a real source of pride to us that many
people still aren’t quite sure how many of us are
playing the characters.”
Pemberton’s characters tend to be insidiously menacing
(Herr Lipp, toad-enthusiast Harvey Denton) and Shearsmith’s
are often repressing some kind of demented rage (Geoff the
frustrated local businessman, hell-fixated preacher Reverend
Bernice), Gatiss generally plays the more unfortunate souls
– the gruesome accident-prone local vet Dr Chinnery,
failed glam-rocker Les McQueen.
soft-hearted ones,” he says. “That’s true,
yeah. We all write a bit differently, and that’s how
my characters seem to naturally fall out. I love those kind
of well-meaning, tragic types. But it’s nice to ring
the changes with a character you can pour your bile into,
a real gimlet-eyed monster.”
grins with the butcher’s bloody teeth and I try not
to flinch. As an actor and scriptwriter, the “sheer
joy of The League of Gentlemen has been writing the sort
of thing you’ve always wanted to be in, and then actually
being in it”. Gatiss and co are control freaks, and
they worked independently, at their own painstaking pace,
on the screenplay for the film.
always been left alone and we couldn’t bear the idea
of our stuff suddenly being fiddled with just because it’s
a movie. We wanted to present it as a strong, complete script
– this is the film we want to make; do you want to
pay for it? And the answer was no, ha ha ha.”
it turned out, the BBC couldn’t fund the movie, but
Film Four could, despite their recent downsizing. And when
it’s finished shooting, the League will probably be
leaving Royston Vasey at last. “We won’t be
splitting up,” says Gatiss, “but we’ve
reached a crossroads. The film rounds things off, in a way,
and I don’t know what else we could do with the format.
We will not repeat ourselves. The good thing is that League
of Gentlemen is just a title, and we can decide exactly
what it means. People will want more of the same, but if
you can’t keep yourself interested, you should do
lately, Gatiss hasn’t been short of something else
to do. “I fear I’m really lazy, but I also feel
guilty when I’m doing nothing at all. I spent so many
years in the standard grinding poverty as an actor that
I tend to get over-excited about new opportunities, and
I end up saying yes to everything.”
takes small acting roles in other people’s projects
– Steve Coogan’s unfunny but fine-detailed Victorian
horror-pastiche Dr Terrible’s House Of Horrible, Stephen
Fry’s film Bright Young Things – which he considers
“little holidays”. He has just scripted a key
episode for the BBC’s resurrection of Dr Who. He wrote
The Vesuvius Club while working on the League of Gentlemen
screenplay. And in his spare time he paints portraits in
oils – “just to relax, to take my mind off other
things. I don’t really show the work to anyone.”
so, Gatiss seems to be, for lack of a more modern term,
a Renaissance man. “Ah yes,” he says, “but
so was Cesare Borgias [15th-Century Cardinal, killer, master-schemer
Dr Who commission was another dream job somehow drafted
into reality for Gatiss. He loved the programme as a child,
and hated it when it became an obscure self-parody. “People
forget that Dr Who didn’t used to be a cult show,
it was a big popular success. It only became cultish when
it went wrong, and started addressing itself to its core
first fiction Gatiss ever published was a sequence of Dr
Who novels, in which he attempted to correct the problems
that had killed the show off in the late Eighties. “I
thought I knew how it should be done,” he says. “I
had a traditionalist viewpoint, but I also decided it wasn’t
really a children’s programme, and you could have
all this violence and sex in it.”
the first TV scripts he ever wrote were for his own series
of cheap, short Dr Who spin-off films with titles such as
The Devil Of Winterbourne and The Zero Imperative, which
were shot on video and featured ex-Doctors Jon Pertwee,
Colin Baker and Peter Davison. I admit I haven’t seen
them. “No,” says Gatiss. “And you never
will. One, they’re not available. And two, I forbid
it. Christ, for all I knew, they were the only things I
would ever get to make. And I learned a frightening amount
from working on them.”
after a long period in cold storage, briefly interrupted
by one misconceived Anglo-American TV movie starring Paul
McGann, the BBC decided to revive the Doctor. “I always
thought if it ever came back, it would be mishandled. I
just didn’t believe that the people who got control
of it would really love it. But that’s exactly what’s
fan and Queer As Folk writer Russell T Davies was put in
charge, hired like-minded writers such as Gatiss, and cast
the intensely watchable character actor Christopher Ecclestone
as The Doctor. The result, says Gatiss, entirely biased
but highly excited, is “a brilliant reinvention”.
not just saying that. Chris plays it straight, but fun.
His seriousness is almost frightening, it makes The Doctor
seem more alien, more like an innocent on Earth. When he
tells you the world is going to explode, you believe it.
It’s a wonderful part and a great piece of television.
Very funny, very scary.”
own episode has just been filmed, so Gatiss’ involvement
recently came to an end. “It was hard to say goodbye
to it. A real wrench,” he admits.
new novel, though, was a total relief to finish. The Vesuvius
Club is a saucy romp through early-Edwardian London –
“What my father would call ‘racy’,”
says Gatiss – narrated by a screamingly louche bisexual
portrait painter and secret agent named Lucifer Box, who
kills with impunity, fornicates with gusto, and always picks
the right colour flower for his buttonhole. The wild plot
is bit too noisy and busy, over-stuffed with thrilling chases,
fiendish twists and droll asides, but it’s a load
of fun to read. Gatiss insisted that the publishers include
a subtitle proclaiming the story “A Bit Of Fluff”.
Which doesn’t mean it was fun to write.
the clichés are true. It was lonely and difficult.
I regularly wondered why I was putting myself through this.
It’s not that writing a script isn’t hard, but
it’s just not as labour intensive as a novel. Sometimes
I just wanted to throw it against the wall.”
first took the commission three years ago, because it was
another one of those opportunities to do something he always
wanted to. “I wanted to write the kind of holiday
book I’ve always been looking for, and I’ve
never really found, not since I read The Adventures Of Sherlock
Holmes. A pastiche of Conan Doyle and Fu Manchu and all
these things I live and breathe.”
satisfied enough with the result, “a shallow and light-hearted
thing”, featuring a hero who says and does things
that authors of Gatiss’ chosen period could never
have dared to publish. “I love the idea of going places
we think are familiar, but adding something new, a slightly
book is dedicated to his boyfriend Ian, whom Gatiss describes
as the love of his life. They’ve be been together
for five years, and I was wondering, given the recent debates
over the issue in the European Parliament and during the
American presidential race, if they would ever get married.
dunno,” he says. “We’ve talked about that.
I have a long-standing fear of it, not the commitment, just
the ritual itself. I remember the relaunch of the Labour
party with Neil Kinnock and the red rose, and Roy Hattersley
describing it as being like a gay wedding. It’s never
left me, that image. I’ve also never liked the fact
that it’s not the real ceremony, it’s often
just a fairly crass hybrid which sort of apes the heterosexual
a guy with a deep and serious love of British pulp, genre,
and schlock, Gatiss has a pretty refined aesthetic palette.
He shares his taste in art, if by no means his lifestyle,
with his own dandified hero Lucifer Box, who takes time
out from sleuthing and carousing to exhalt Velazquez and
spit on El Greco.
can’t stand El Greco. He’s so bad, such awful
draftsmanship. For his time, he was probably a frightening
visionary, but the work is so ugly, the paintings are so
chalky, there’s such a terrible blue and a terrible
red to them. Ugh.”
funny, I say, as a make-up lady leans into the Land Rover
to touch up the nauseating features of Hillary Briss, that
Gatiss of all people should demand beauty from his art.
would like to think,” he says, “there’s
a sort of beauty in what we do. In the strangeness of it,
the attention to detail. This film will still look a bit
like cheap television, but with greater depth, on a grander,
cinematic scale. So yeah, I think it will be beautiful.”
The Vesuvius Club is published by Simon & Schuster,
£15; Dr Who will screen on BBC 1 in early 2005; The
League of Gentlemen movie will be released later next year
Confirmation of Film Name!
to these photo's the Film is to be called Royston Vasey...which
is good news for our site http://www.roystonvasey.co.uk!
the full article here http://www.showbizireland.com/news/october04/03-gentlemen01.shtml
but the pics are on the latest news Page!
- Steve Bendelack confirmed to direct League of Gentlemen
cast members confirmed include Welsh actor Michael Sheen,
Bruno Langley who plays Todd Grimshaw in Coronation Street
and Manchester born actor David Warner who says of his role...
going to be in The League Of Gentlemen film," laughs
the Manchester-born actor.
"They wrote a part especially for me, which is very
flattering. A few years ago they invited me to be in their
TV Christmas special but I couldn't do it as I was living
and working in America at the time.
"However, I became friends with them and now they have
invited me to be in their film.
"Because I had been living in America, I hadn't seen
the show when it was on TV, so when I watched some tapes
I couldn't understand what was going on!
"They are really very clever and they are very good
actors. It is a strange show, but I really like it and now
I've seen all the tapes I am a huge fan.
"It is a real change for me too; it gives me a chance
to be a bit stupid! I like to do comedy but rarely get asked
to do it so to have the opportunity to do something like
The League Of Gentlemen and hopefully make people laugh
"They haven't got me dressing up as a woman as yet
but you never know!"
Warner has been in the acting business for more than 40
years with a varied career starring in Hollywood blockbusters
like Titanic and The Omen and TV classic dramas like The
Choir and Twin Peaks.
Of Gentlemen Movie? Extraordinary!
Edward and Tubbs, the snout-faced shopkeepers of Royston
aren't overly fond of things — or people — that
Particularly protective of the `precious things' on their
shelves, they've been known to burn strangers alive for
enter their store. For them, the bright lights of the city
for abject terror rather than fascination.
it's a bit surprising that they're finally left Royston
visit London. Shooting began this week in the capital for
Of Gentlemen's first big-screen outing, featuring all the
town's resident creeps, transexual cab drivers and wife-collecting
cult British comedy is one of the edgiest TV shows around,
constantly pushing the boundaries of acceptable taste. So
knows what the team (who have confessed that their favourite
The Wicker Man) have in store for us with their bid for
horrors are lined up, prepare for a time-twisting narrative
in which the monstrous characters break through the divide
their fictional world and the real one in order to save
from destruction. It's also been promised that the dark
will feature a host of cameos from famous faces. Though
that the TV show guest-starred Roy Chubby Brown (whose real
Royston Vasey, fact fans), don't hold your breath for an
from David Beckham!
From The Sunday Times Culture supplement,
July 11 2004:
A mass raising of eyebrows within the BBC comedy department
about the film of BBC2's Bafta-laden The League of Gentlemen.
The problem? It's not
really a BBC project, a large chunk of the financing is
coming from FilmFour.
"It's pretty embarrassing for us," one BBC comedy
wonk told me. "It was a BBC radio show and a BBC TV
comedy, but now we have nothing to do with