The League Of Gentlemen to reunite on stage once again?

Wednesday 12th May 2021, 5:05pm by Jay Richardson

The League Of Gentlemen - Live Again!. Image shows from L to R: Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton.

The League Of Gentlemen will reunite for more live shows Steve Pemberton has predicted.

Recalling how he was reduced to tears by one crowd's response to his and Reece Shearsmith's stage return - as the sitcom's grotesque local shopkeepers Tubbs and Edward - he said of their 2018 reunion with fellow members Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson for The League Of Gentlemen Live Again! show, that "we did miss it and that's why we did another tour."

The group formed as a live entity in 1995, with everyone but Dyson performing as well as writing, and won the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe two years later. That same year they made the Radio 4 series On the Town With The League Of Gentlemen, before transferring to television in 1999.

Speaking to comedian Jim Daly and writer Giles Paley-Phillips on their Blank Podcast, Pemberton said: "I think we'll probably do more live stuff again because it's a real buzz that you can't get anywhere else."

Inside No. 9. Image shows from L to R: Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton. Copyright: BBC.

As recently as last week, he reiterated his desire to also do a live version of Inside No. 9, his anthology television series with Shearsmith.

"It's so perfectly suited. They are like mini-plays" he suggested ahead of the sixth series's return on Monday. Even so, he stressed that there are no plans to end the television version, which has already been commissioned for a seventh series.

"As long as we feel we have got the ideas and we can creatively challenge ourselves with each new series, then we'll keep doing it," he said.

"Each series that's gone on, we've thought, 'yeah, we can try throwing something completely new into the mix here and see how people react'. And there's nothing more exciting than that in my view."

On the Blank Podcast, Pemberton recalled just how close The League Of Gentlemen came to being cancelled after they filmed the first episode.

Although it subsequently ran for three series until 2002, spawning a film, The League Of Gentlemen's Apocalypse in 2005, and three anniversary specials in 2017, the then BBC Two controller Mark Thompson initially rejected the show no fewer than seven times and remained unconvinced.

The League Of Gentlemen. Image shows from L to R: Edward (Reece Shearsmith), Tubbs (Steve Pemberton). Copyright: BBC.

"We had a period where we were on the recce, looking for locations and our assistant producer kept nipping out to take phone calls" Pemberton told Daly and Paley-Phillips. "And we believe it was nearly cancelled, the head of BBC Two at the time just went 'why are spending all this money on this thing which I don't understand? I don't get it.'

"He'd seen the first episode, he hadn't particularly liked it and it was very nearly pulled and cancelled and we were completely unaware" he added, citing the importance of a supportive production team keeping them oblivious of the situation.

Elsewhere in the podcast, he recalled a "really funny" early character written by Dyson, "this randy rabbi, a very sexualised rabbi", played by himself that was swiftly rejected after it failed horribly on stage.

"I, who am not Jewish, said 'well, ok, I'll give it a go'. It was full of Hebrew phrases.

"Well, it was probably my performance but it pretty much died a death. We did it one night at the Canal Cafe Theatre [in London]. And normally if a sketch got a few titters we'd try it again for two or three weeks. This one, it's like 'nah, let's forget it, let's leave Randy Rabbi for another time'.

"Other things you could see worked instantly. That's how we kind of developed stuff, by getting it on its feet in front of people. We weren't having to say [to each other] I don't think it works, it was pretty obvious."


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