Welcome to Royston Vasey: Grotesque bodies and the horror of comedy in The League of Gentlemen

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‘Welcome to Royston Vasey: Grotesque bodies and the horror of comedy in The League of Gentlemen’

Peter Hutchings

The comedy show The League of Gentlemen, which first appeared on British television in 1999 and ran until 2002, was probably not to
everyone’s taste. Themes explored through three series and a Christmas special included murder, kidnapping and imprisonment, incest, monstrosity and deformity, masturbation, transvestism and transexuality, dead children, cruelty to animals, the imbibing of urine, erotic asphyxiation, vampirism, voodoo, implicit cannibalism (a rare moment of restraint), limb grafting and a plague of nosebleeds. Add nudity, some violence and gore, the occasional use of the word ‘fuck’, and an obsessive fixation on bodies marked in various ways as grotesque, and you end up with a most unusual recipe for TV comedy. Given this, it is perhaps surprising how little controversy has been provoked by the League (which consists of writer-performers Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith and writer Jeremy Dyson). Instead the TV show – which had evolved from stage performances and a BBC radio series – went on to attract critical plaudits and prizes (including a BAFTA and the Golden Rose of Montreux award) as well as a dedicated audience following. The League’s commercial ascendancy was clinched in 2005 when the film The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse received a wide cinema release… [Full Article Here]

 

From: Special Issue (Issue 4, 2007), Mysterious Bodies. Edited by Rayna Denison and Mark Jancovich.

 

 

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