The League of Gentlemen is a quartet of British comedy writer/performers, formed in 1995 by Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith. The television programme for which they are best known, although officially labelled a sitcom, was initially more sketch-based, linked together by their common setting: the fictional village of Royston Vasey, set somewhere in the north of England. The first series aired on BBC Two in 1999, and follows the lives of dozens of the town's bizarre inhabitants, played by Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearsmith in a number of different guises and make-up. The television series was filmed mainly in Hadfield, but also features Glossop, Marsden, Mottram and the Hope Valley.
The League of Gentlemen is primarily a sitcom, albeit an unusual one. It consists of a series of sketches which come together to form an overall story. Since all the action takes place, and nearly all the characters live in the same village, there is much overlap, and the events and characters of one story play a part in the lives of others, much as in a soap opera. There is usually a main plot to which the minor stories tend to be tenuously connected.
In the first television series, the main plot involves a new road being built through Royston Vasey, raising the possibility of great numbers of strangers visiting the town. The road development ends when Tubbs and Edward discover that the construction manager is their long lost son, David, and convince him to end construction and live "locally".
The second series sees a deadly epidemic of nosebleeds grip the town's inhabitants, killing many. The plot is resolved after some confusion over the cause of the nosebleeds, involving butcher Hilary Briss' "special stuff", Benjamin Denton's escape from his relatives, and the murders in the Local Shop.
The Christmas Special took the slightly different format of three self-contained stories, with three of the characters seeking the help of the vicar, Bernice, on Christmas Eve.
The third series focused on a different character each week but with the overlaps creating a more complex layering of the plot, more akin to a one-off episode of a situation comedy (albeit one where all the episodes come together at the end) than a traditional sketch show. The end of each episode features a white van swerving to avoid a pedestrian and crashing into a garden wall. Some residents escape unharmed, whilst others are not so lucky. A red plastic bag is seen being blown by the wind through the town in every episode, reinforcing the idea that all these stories take place at the same time.
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