List of The League of Gentlemen characters

This article contains a list of the numerous characters featured in various media by the British comedy troupe known as The League of Gentlemen. All of the characters were created by the troupe, who are Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith.

Quick Reference

Local shop Dentons Job centre Plastics Butchers Hulls Charity shop Creme Brulée Foots Debt collectors Legz Akimbo Misc. Misc. Misc. Misc. Misc. Misc.
Shearsmith Edward Benjamin Ross Geoff Samuel Stella Vinnie Patch Peter Lisgoe Ollie Bernice Papa Lazarou Judee Pamela Henry Portrait Mike King
Pemberton Tubbs Harvey Pauline Mike Maurice Charlie Reenie Bob Ernest Barry Dave Herr Lipp Barbara Pop Farmer Jed Ally Welles Mechanic
Gatiss David Val Mickey Brian Hilary Tony Customer Les McQueen Sheila Glen Phil Mr. Chinnery Mama Lazarou Iris Lance Alvin Steele Mick McNamara

Edward and Tubbs

Edward and Tulip "Tubbs" Tattsyrup, played by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton respectively, are a married couple (as well as brother and sister) who are the proprietors of Royston Vasey's local shop (which they inherited from their mother and has apparently been in the Tattsyrup family for generations), located on the top of a hill some distance away from the town. Both have distinctly pig noses (in live shows, the actors simply hold their noses up with tape). Despite being complete outsiders to most of the other action in the show, they have become, arguably, the most popular and identifiable characters.

Edward, who claims to have served in the armed forces and had been in "a war" (presumably Oman or the Falklands), has a distrust of outsiders and is likely to emerge from the back of the shop saying "Hello, hello? What's going on? What's all this shouting? We'll have no trouble here!" (regardless of whether or not any shouting is actually going on) and challenge people with the question, "Are you local?", dismissing those who reply "no" with, "This is a local shop, for local people; there's nothing for you here" one of the show's best-known catch phrases.

Tubbs (real name Tulip), though also scared of newcomers, dreams of visiting the "bright lights" of towns and cities (usually Swansea; also places such as London and Plymouth), whose existence Edward has tried to keep from her ("There is a Swansea!"). She tends to ask "Are you local?" with both hope and fear mixed in her voice, but is afraid that visitors may take her "precious things" from the shelves of the shop (in particular, the snow globes on the counter). Tubbs has a childlike innocence which is only guided towards malevolent ends by Edward's influence.

Edward and Tubbs have a son, David, who was a mild-mannered civil engineer responsible for building a new road threatening to link Royston Vasey to the outside world; after they reunite at the end of Series 1, his parents keep him locked up in the attic, where he develops a bestial nature. During Series 2 they attempt to kidnap a wife for him; in the end the unwitting victim is Barbara (see below).

The couple are serial killers, responsible for a large number of murders in the area. Some of these occurred when trying to kidnap friends and a wife for David ("be careful, Tubbs...we don't want her to suffocate like the other three"); and with the intention of stopping the building of "New Road"; others seem to be simply for their gratification (for example, they kill a backpacker and subsequently the investigating police officer after Tubbs gives the game away- she yells out "We didn't burn him!").

At the start of Series 3, they are seen to have survived the fire set by the inhabitants of Royston Vasey at the end of Series 2. (They are wrongly suspected of starting the nosebleed epidemic, which is ironic given the countless murders they actually are responsible for.) They decide to follow "New Road" and contemplate beginning a new life with a new shop in London. Edward's glasses were broken in the fire leaving him unable to see properly, so Tubbs, using one of the snow globes as a map, leads them along a railway line, and they are both promptly killed by a speeding train.

In the final shot of Series 3 we see a brief glimpse of their grandchildren in Barbara's arms; they have the same pig noses as Edward and Tubbs.

The pair go on to appear in the live show as their ghosts, although this is set in a continuity outside of the main series, much like the film, where they appear briefly and accidentally kill Jeremy Dyson.

The couple's piggy noses may have something to do with the family's bestiality towards pigs meaning that the reason for their strange noses are genetic. This is implied in the second episode of the first series where Tubbs is shown breast-feeding a piglet. The noses, and Edward's appearance in particular, may also be indicative of congenital syphilis. Their ages are unknown with certainty; the Series 1 DVD biographies claim that Edward is 84 years old and Tubbs is 33 (which is almost impossible given they share the same mother and have an adult son). The audio commentaries note a time in the 16th century when Tubbs betrayed Edward and that the couple got married in the 14th century, making them both over 700 years old.

Barbara Dixon

The trans woman Barbara Dixon (voiced by Pemberton) is the proprietor of the local taxi firm, Bab's Cabs, and likes to regale passengers with graphic descriptions of her upcoming operation. She has a deep voice and a necklace with her name on it nestling in among her chest hair. Her face is briefly seen in Series 1 episode 6. At the end of Series 1 her operation is botched by substitute surgeon Mr. Chinnery (see below), with the result that in Series 2 Barbara can't tell what sex she is any more. To further confuse matters, Barbara is seen heavily pregnant in Series 3 (and gives birth to twins strongly resembling Tubbs and Edward). Barbara was briefly married to the Tattsyrups' son, David. Their marriage was short-lived as angry townsfolk set fire to the Local Shop on their wedding night, killing David in the blaze. Despite the fact that she was kidnapped for the marriage, she genuinely fell in love with David and was grief-stricken when he died.

In the radio series, Barbara joins a dating agency, and gets romantically linked with Mr. Ingleby, who funds the last part of her operation.

The Dentons

Harvey Denton (Pemberton) and his wife Val (Gatiss) are a bizarre couple whose gaudy 1970s-style house is run in an insanely ordered manner. For examples, they have two rolls of toilet paper labelled "1's" and "2's," and colour-coded towels for every purpose, from hands and spills to pubic hair. They have identical twin daughters, Chloe and Radclyffe. With their long white dresses and their habits of turning up unexpectedly and speaking in unison, they are obvious references to the two girls in The Shining. Harvey's dream in life is to have a self-lowering toilet seat. Val's wish is to have a son.

Into this formula, their completely normal nephew Benjamin (Shearsmith) is interjected. Harvey and Val tell him to make himself at home which is obviously impossible. Harvey is obsessed with male masturbation, forever accusing Benjamin of masturbating, using an array of amusing euphemisms.

Harvey is deeply fascinated by toads and has had the basement converted into a special chamber for keeping his huge collection. He is not so fond of frogs, refusing to allow the use of "The "F" word" in his home.

He also owns the toad known to the Mapapa tribe of the Shakiti Hills as the devil's toad. "If one were to squeeze its little yellow belly, one's heart's desire would be granted." With him and his wife, Val, that turned out to be true. He wished for a self-lowering toilet seat, while Val asked for her nephew, Benjamin, to return. Both wishes came true. Benjamin also made the mistake of killing two of Harvey's favourite toads, Sonny and Cher (named after the musical duo), by frying one on an electric heater and stepping on the other.

The Dentons also have a "nude day," which they claim is the first Monday of every month. They cast aside all clothing and go about their daily duties—including going to the supermarket, the newsagent's, and the post office, totally naked. When Benjamin walks in on them naked, they force him to strip off as well and answer the door naked. Benjamin surprises the caller and brings him back to the living room, where Harvey and Val are dressed and Benjamin is humiliated.

As Series 1 progresses, it becomes clear that the pair, especially Val (whose greatest wish is to have a son), don't want Benjamin to leave. In the first series, they merely used diversionary tactics, such as telling him that all guests must babysit their daughters. However, in Series 2 their plans become more sinister: they lock Benjamin in his room; type up a letter made to look as if it was from Benjamin, declaring that he wishes to stay with the Dentons; and construct a large chamber in the basement where they intend to keep him as a pet. Harvey even publishes a pamphlet entitled "My Plan to Keep Benjamin Locked Up as Some Kind of Pet, by Harvey Denton"; even Val is repulsed. Benjamin discovers this plan and turns the table on Harvey and Val, trapping them in the chamber and forcing them to confess before Chloe and Radclyffe chase him off with a shotgun. However, rather than free their parents, they lock them in.

Though they are never expressly killed off, this is the last we see of Harvey and Val and the final shot of the couple is Harvey mouthing "I can't breathe!" They were not featured in Series 3 or the film, although one of their previous routines does appear in the live show and in the Christmas Special, Val is seen as head of "Solutions Inc.", though this may not be real, given that it took place in Charlie's dream. A relative identical to Harvey is briefly seen on the streets of Royston Vasey in the Victorian era, shaking a collection tin in a suggestive manner. Their absence is unusual for such important and frequently used characters.

Benjamin Denton

The first character to be introduced, Benjamin is the only permanent non-local character. To illustrate his normality, Shearsmith wears no makeup of any kind in his portrayal of Benjamin. He is also an important character in some of the major storylines. Originally he stopped at the Dentons' to stay the night before embarking on a hiking trip with a friend. However, his friend was murdered by Tubbs and Edward. Tubbs now permanently wears the friend's walking boots.

More importantly, at the end of Series 1, he attempts to escape from Royston Vasey, and is last seen entering Tubbs and Edward's shop. After some time missing, he returns at the start of Series 2, dressed in a grass skirt and coconut bra, covered in mud, and collapsing, uttering the word "local" as the camera zooms in on the snow globe he was carrying.

Though he cannot remember where he has been, he has a snow globe taken from the Local Shop. It is implied that Tubbs and Edward had attempted to keep Benjamin as a friend (or, based on how he's dressed, a wife) for David. Taking advantage of Benjamin's lacklustre state, the Dentons plan to keep him as a pet, although this is foiled when he recovers to a reasonable extent. After escaping the Denton's home, Benjamin is surprised to find that Royston Vasey has descended into anarchy as a result of the nosebleed epidemic. At this point, he finds the snow globe in his pocket and remembers his experiences in the Local Shop and leads an angry mob there. However, the rioters wrongly interpret this to mean that Tubbs and Edward are responsible for the epidemic, and only when they begin to burn down the local shop in the final scenes of Series 2 does Benjamin realise his mistake. He does not appear in Series 3, presumably having finally escaped Royston Vasey at the end of Series 2.

Hilary Briss

Briss, played by Gatiss, is a butcher and proprietor of Hilary Briss and Son, Royston Vasey's local butchers. His wares include a secret "special stuff"; a mysterious and highly addictive foodstuff, which, it is implied, is both illegal and hideously immoral. Many authority figures are "in" on Briss' activities, including Police Inspector Cox, Magistrate Maurice Evans (Pemberton) and Councillor Samuel Chignell (Shearsmith), all of whom become hopelessly addicted.

Though Briss only sells his "special stuff" to a select group of gentlemen customers, in Series 2 addiction to the "special stuff" leads to a haemorrhagic epidemic, marked by chronic nosebleeds. This results in the death of many local residents, including the Mayor. The "special stuff" has reached a wider market through Evans' wife Eunice, who serves it at her sandwich stall. She has gained access to the "special stuff" through Maurice, who has managed to get his whole family addicted. The pure dose of "special stuff" which Briss serves was substantially less harmful, but Eunice cut the substance with her own paste, making it poisonous.

Before he can be caught, Briss escapes to the Caribbean (where he continues selling his "special stuff", this time in burgers) leaving behind his wife, who it turns out is a brown cow. Eunice is arrested along with Inspector Cox, while Sam and Maurice are last seen being caught by the authorities, with nosebleeds, burning evidence of the "special stuff". Maurice is known to have survived as he is mentioned by Eunice in Series 3, but it is unknown if Sam has also survived. In Series 3 Briss's store is seen to be boarded up, with graffiti reading 'murderer' painted across the front. Briss does not appear in Series 3, though a newspaper story indicates his antics have continued abroad in much the same way as before. In the film The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, he returns, clad in handcuffs, and being chased by the police across the moors. Whereas in the first two series, Briss is a fairly one-dimensional villain, in the film, he is fleshed out into the anti-hero of the piece, before being killed by Dr Erasmus Pea, the film's parody of occultist John Dee.

Though it is never revealed what "special stuff" consists of, many have assumed that it is human meat. The writers have denied this, stating that they can think of "nothing more mundane than cannibalism", and indicating that it is something much worse, while also claiming it is possible to determine its identity from clues in the series. The Series 1 DVD includes a fragment of brainstorming materials in its bonus section, on which the idea of the butcher selling human appendixes obtained from the local hospital is listed.

One of the most popular theories is that it is sausages laced with cocaine, after tying together possible clues throughout Series 1 and 2, including references to Goodfellas and Midnight Express, the nosebleeds, and the substance becoming more dangerous after being cut. Even the writers were apparently not sure what the special stuff was at the beginning of the series. When Briss takes Maurice along with him to receive a "special delivery" in a remote woodland, we see who supplies Briss with the special stuff: a tall ominous man accompanied by a short hunchbacked figure. It is evident that even Briss is terrified of them. The only clue from the original live shows as to what the substance is that it apparently rhymes with "drawstring", which has led some to believe that the "special stuff" is circumcised foreskins. 'Bris' is also the Yiddish name for the Brit milah, the Jewish circumcision ceremony. Some fans have combined the two theories and believe that the "special stuff" is sausages containing cocaine enclosed by foreskin sausage casing.

According to the character biography in Series 1, Briss says that his age "spans great oceans of time". It is not known what he means by this.

Mr Chinnery

A cheerful and disarming man, Mr Matthew Chinnery (Gatiss) is the accident-prone local veterinarian (not "Dr Chinnery", as he is a veterinary surgeon). Most of the animals he treats end up dying, including a pregnant cow whose insides were mangled when he attempted to help the calf but put his hand up the wrong passage while a group of schoolchildren looked on, a sheepdog whom he mistakenly euthanised while the owner was out of the room fetching the actual patient, and a tortoise he blasted out of its shell while attempting to give it oxygen. He was also responsible for botching Barbara's operation. As a result of his many accidents, he gets more and more upset.

In the Christmas Special, Mr Chinnery, who fears that he's on the verge of losing his sanity, told Bernice the story of how his great-grandfather Edmund Chinnery, the foremost vet of his time, was cursed to have any animal he touched "meet a dreadful end" and that his descendants would carry the curse after him. Bernice reassured him that there was no such thing as curses and that he, the doctor who first had the curse and his ancestor had had accidents similar to the curse primarily because they were scared of the curse and thought that they had it. She then told him to go and do his next job without any fear of the curse. He does not appear at all in Series 3 (most likely because he was "cured" in the Christmas special), but does make an appearance in the film, The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, treating a giraffe and having a role in the film's climax. In the live show, he stands in for a magician and gives a new twist to the trick of pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

Many of Chinnery's disasters are parodies of scenes from the BBC's All Creatures Great and Small. Mark Gatiss's performance is reminiscent of Peter Davison, who played Tristan Farnon on that programme. (Gatiss is also a famous fan of Doctor Who, in which Davison played the title character for three years. The name Chinnery almost certainly comes from actor Dennis Chinnery who played three separate characters in Doctor Who. Coincidentally, Christopher Eccleston, the ninth Doctor, appeared in the League of Gentlemen as the owner of a cat theatre, set up in direct competition to Kenny Harris's Dog Cinema Kenny Harris also played by Mark Gatiss.) Mark Gatiss was also in an episode of Doctor Who called "The Lazarus Experiment". The wig that he wore playing Professor Richard Lazarus in this episode was the same wig which was used for Mr. Chinnery in The League of Gentlemen.

Job Centre

A photograph of a person wearing a light blue jacket, a pink shirt, a navy skirt, navy high-heeled shoes, and glasses while standing on a sidewalk and looking to the left
Steve Pemberton in character as Pauline Campbell-Jones

Pauline Campbell-Jones (Pemberton) is a Restart officer in charge of leading mandatory (and exceedingly condescending) Restart courses which the chronically unemployed are compelled to attend. Pauline makes no secret of her contempt for the "dole scum" who attend her course at Royston Vasey's Jobcentre, and her eventual humiliation at joining their sorry ranks is too much for her to bear. Pauline has an unusual obsession with pens (she has a tendency to bring one out whenever someone needs one) and has a startling similarity to Deirdre Barlow from Coronation Street (a fact commented on by Ross). Her catchphrase is "hokey-cokey, pig in a pokey!" which she says when she enters the classroom where her Restart courses take place. Pauline was accused by Cathy Carter-Smith of being a "psychotic 50-year-old lesbian", to which she responds "How Dare You! I'm 48!" Her starsign is Virgo. She has a framed photograph of herself and another woman naked, who was named on the commentary of the Series 2 DVD as a former lover of Pauline's named Terri Makepeace. In the commentary of the Series 1 DVD when asked whether she is in a relationship, Pauline says, rather sadly, "There was someone once", and the commentary also names that person as Terri Makepeace. When asked about her family, she claims that they are all dead.

Mickey and Ross are two of the people taking the Restart course. Mickey M. Michaels (Gatiss), a well-meaning simpleton who wants to be a fireman, grows increasingly close to Pauline throughout the series - Pauline has developed the nickname "Mickey Luv" for him. Ross Gaines (Shearsmith) is considerably more intelligent than Pauline and always tries to embarrass her when asked to perform tasks to the rest of the class. However, Pauline usually resorts to violence to secure the upper hand. Ross seems very officious and doesn't appear to have any close friends or family when Pauline once flicked through his address book it was empty apart from "Work" and "Mother". The course is also attended by a man named Colin.

At the end of Series 1, Ross reveals that he's an undercover agent who has been inspecting Pauline. Naturally, he fires her, forcing her to sit the Restart course which, in Series 2, is now being led by Cathy Carter-Smith (Shearsmith), who's just as bad as, if not worse than, Pauline. After Mickey stands up for her, she leaves the class and briefly works with him at the Burger Me fast-food restaurant, but is fired when she spoils Ross's veggie burger in revenge. In an act of desperation Pauline, with the help of Mickey, takes Ross hostage in the Jobcentre and demands her job back. However, they aren't noticed, partly due to the epidemic and partly due to the fact that no one realises Ross is missing. Ross eventually tricks Mickey and escapes, returning later to have Pauline arrested. As an interesting side note, moments before she is arrested, Pauline is about to take a bite from a sandwich which she had just bought from Eunice Evans' stall. When she sees Ross with a police officer, she drops the sandwich in surprise. Presumably, had she eaten the sandwich she would have been poisoned.

In Series 3, Pauline is serving time at HM Clitclink Prison alongside Eunice Evans, nicknamed "The Royston Poisoner," whom she bullies and extorts pens from for temporary possession of 'The Exocet', an item featured later in Lance's joke shop. She is given early release when she strikes a deal with Ross to discover how Mickey's family has been cheating the employment system. However, she feels guilty for her involvement and she and Mickey sleep together and become engaged, cementing their love for each other. Mickey was dressed as a woman at the time and he asks Pauline if that was the reason she had sex with him, but she tells him it wasn't. Pauline then has sex with Ross to make sure he doesn't tell Mickey about their deal (although it is also implied she has actually been attracted to him all this time—these two liaisons and subsequent marriage suggest Pauline is bisexual), but he decides to tell him anyway. He claims that he's doing this because "you made me hate my job!" Pauline runs to get to Mickey before Ross exposes her, and is nearly hit by the speeding Legz Akimbo van (driven by Geoff) before being saved by Lance, who sacrifices his life to save hers. She and Mickey get married, and even Ross applauds the happy couple.

In the live show, there is a "Who Shot Pauline?" saga, featuring Ross, Mickey, and Cathy Carter-Smith as suspects.

Geoff, Mike, and Brian

Geoffrey "Geoff" Tipps (Shearsmith), Mike Harris (Pemberton), and Brian Morgan (Gatiss) all work at the local plastics injection-moulding company (In the original radio series, this was a nuclear power plant). Mike is the most normal of the trio (like Shearsmith's portrayal of Benjamin Denton, Mike is portrayed by Pemberton with no added makeup), whilst Brian is slightly less intelligent, though still a good friend. Geoff is rather more tactless and distasteful, always aiming to perfect his comic timing with a series of ill-formed jokes. The three getting together always results in Geoff exploding in a fit of rage, often brandishing a gun and exclaiming "You knew I had this gun, Brian!" In Series 2, en route to an away-day training session, they become lost in the woods and turn to barbarism in a parody of Deliverance. The reason Mike and Brian remain friends with Geoff despite his outbursts remains a mystery until Mike's wedding, when it's revealed that Mike once slept with Geoff's ex-wife, whilst Brian is now married to her.

In Series 3 Geoff travels to London to become a stand-up comedian (unsuccessfully) after being sacked by Mike, only to be accused of terrorism and having to return to Royston Vasey as police are searching for him in London. On the way back, he swerves his stolen van into a garden wall and is horribly disfigured. He is finally seen a great deal happier (albeit with his face heavily bandaged) in hospital surrounded by his friends, including Mike and his wife Cheryl, regaling them successfully with his comedy routine. The fact that his face has been disfigured concludes his story in Series 3: the search for him was based on a facial description, so he's no longer in danger of being caught by the police.

Brian is mentioned early in Series 3; where Geoff claims a rumour is going around that he was "bummed by some binmen." He appears in person later, having quit his job to search for his missing wife Katie, but eventually both he and his wife are imprisoned inside circus animals—along with Reenie, Charlie, and Bernice—by Papa Lazarou. Neither Mike nor Brian appears in The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse; Geoff, however, is an important character in it as he overcomes his anger and cowardice to emerge as the hero—despite shooting Mark Gatiss at the end of the film when he takes the safety catch off Herr Lipp's gun. His film character noticeably differs from his television persona: instead of being angry, bitter, and nearly psychotic, he's more of a bumbling yet kind-hearted underdog.

Les McQueen

Les McQueen (Gatiss) is former rhythm-guitar player for 1970s glam rock band Creme Brulée (and still has plenty of copies of two of their albums: Just Desserts and Another Helping). He now works in the hospital laundry, longing for the old days when he would walk into a Royston Vasey urinal and heads would turn. He constantly bothers other aspiring musicians he meets, boring them with tales of a now outdated and unfashionable music era. When they politely (or in some cases impolitely) ask him to leave them alone, he does so, stating sadly (as if he is trying to convince himself of it, rather than convince whoever he is talking to): "It's a shit business; I'm glad I'm out of it."

McQueen is one of the more 'normal' inhabitants of Royston Vasey (when compared to other much more bizarre characters such as Tubbs, Edward and Papa Lazarou), as well as one of the more tragic characters. As a result, he evoked genuine sympathy from the audience. However, despite this, he's never given anything close to mercy by the writers, with things getting progressively worse for him. In his final appearance in Series 2 he's conned out of his redundancy package (which he was going to use to open a bar abroad) by the lead singer of Creme Brulée, in the hopes of reuniting the band. In the commentary on the DVD, the writers mention an alternative ending where the reunion actually happens and the band is a success. He makes a brief cameo appearance in Series 3 as the MC for the Little Miss Elegance Beauty Pageant.

In the live version of the show, he's introduced as just having had a major resurgence in his career, with a big record contract and a promising solo career. When he walks on stage he dances to the music before approaching the microphone and is fatally electrocuted. This is followed up in the second live tour, whereby he is waiting to audition for the "Commu-nativity". He talks about his career to a hooded teenager next to him—who turns out to be the Grim Reaper, waiting to lead the deceased Les McQueen to his afterlife.

Rev. Bernice Woodall

The local vicar, Bernice (Shearsmith) does not believe in God or the teachings of the Bible, and constantly berates parishioners for their sins. It seems she takes a perverse pleasure in humiliating people in the confessional booth. In a recent BBC7 League of Gentlemen night Reece Shearsmith revealed that the original incarnation of Bernice was based on This Morning's agony aunt, Denise Robertson.

Her original role in the radio series was as the local DJ. In the live show, she acted as an agony aunt on her own show called "Hours of Agony", supposedly attempting to comfort, but really just insulting, an obese woman.

In the Christmas Special it emerges that Bernice witnessed her mother being kidnapped when she was a child, perhaps explaining her cynical outlook on the world. She plays an important role in the Christmas Special, hearing the problems of some of the locals, all the while battling with her past. At first she has no sympathy for the people who tell her about their troubles, but gains more sympathy when Mr Chinnery arrives to describe his problem. When she has helped him "cure" himself of the curse, she regains her faith and is preparing the church for the next day when the kidnapper suddenly returns for her, revealing himself as Papa Lazarou. He kidnaps her declaring "You're my wife now."

A picture of her is seen on a missing-persons flier posted on the church noticeboard at the start of the Series 3, and at the end she is briefly spotted in Papa Lazarou's big tent trapped inside an elephant with Brian, Charlie, and various other people. She also makes an appearance in the movie as the person who organises the attempts to save Royston Vasey and seems to have had some foresight in the coming destruction of the town.

Mrs Levinson and Iris Krell

Middle class Judee Levinson (Shearsmith) and her grotesque cleaning lady Iris Krell (Gatiss) who both have troubled private lives, indulge in a regular microcosm of the class struggle. Each taunts the other—Mrs Levinson with tales of her luxury lifestyle; Iris with lurid stories of her sex life—in a constant game of one-upmanship (at last count, at the end of Series 2, their score was 3-3). The stories usually turn to personal insults about upsetting events in each other's lives with increasingly catastrophic revelations.

These stories usually involve their husbands, who are never seen. Judee's husband, Eddie, is said to be "King of the Carpet Warehouses," but in the final episode of Series 2, it is revealed that he became bankrupt and died of a heart attack at 42. Iris's husband, Ron, is alive and well, but Judee believes him to be nothing more than a sex-hungry prehistoric animal. Iris tells Judee "He has me doing things that would make a whore blush!"

At the end of Series 2, Iris finally snaps back at Judee after all her insults. This causes Judee to break down in tears, and it is revealed that they are mother and daughter. The story goes that a teen Iris gave birth to Judee but they were soon separated. Many years later, Judee hired Iris as a cleaner, but upon discovery of her being her mother, nothing changed between them. This is taken a step further in the live show, where it is suggested not only that both are cleaners who take it in turns to pretend to be their unseen employer, but that they are father and son who've been pretending to be women all along.

In Series 3, Judee has started up a beauty salon with Charlie Hull called "Spit and Polish". The customers believe her to be giving the massages, when it is in fact Charlie. During this time, Judee develops a crush on Charlie. When people start demanding "extras", Charlie struggles with homosexuality when he finds himself attracted to Tony, the man with whom his wife, Stella, has had an affair. When he confesses to giving "extras", Judee fires him and Stella takes the opportunity to leave him after her gambling addiction finally pays off. Iris, meanwhile, appears to have a brief cameo in Pop's strip club, where her body is seen dancing and Pop thanks a woman called Iris for her services. She is also heard on one of the massage tapes in the beauty salon, asking Judee if she wants a cup of tea.

Charlie and Stella Hull

Charlie (Pemberton) and Stella (Shearsmith) are a husband and wife with a tempestuous relationship. They have grown to hate each other and quarrel endlessly, using unwilling third parties as mediators. These include their daughter's boyfriend Tony (Gatiss), a waiter, and a baby. Their daughter, Julie, is never seen. In the second live show, it is revealed that Julie died 10 years ago - she drowned in the bath when Stella went to check the lottery numbers instead of looking after her ("It was a Rollover..." Stella cries). Also in this live show, the warring couple appeared to reignite some degree of unity and compassion with Charlie agreeing that Stella could "still buy her [Julie] clothes!"

It is often suggested, though, that most of their quarrels are competitive, as seen when, after the third party voices his/her displeasure at the situation and leaves, they revert to normal or polite conversation, as though their quarrel has been forgotten completely. Throughout the sketches in Series 1 and 2, we discover that Stella has a gambling addiction, and that she has slept with other men, including Tony.

In the Christmas Special, the story is taken a step further, with both Charlie and Stella speaking to each other directly for the first time during their argument. Charlie visits the Reverend Bernice about a dream he keeps having where he is going to enter a line-dancing competition on Boxing Day. Frustrated with his obsession over his new hobby, Stella seeks help from her friend Donna (Liza Tarbuck), through the form of a secret organisation called "Solutions, Inc." (which is run by Val Denton and includes other local females such as Pauline, Vinnie & Reenie, Judee & Iris, and Pam Doove, all of whom wear white masks). She gives them three items belonging to Charlie, which they use to form a voodoo doll of him, saying that they will let her know the price when the deed is done. During the line-dancing competition, Charlie does very well until he falls (Val throws the doll to the ground) and cannot stop dancing (Pauline burns the doll's feet) and is forced to douse himself with beer (the women use water) to stop himself. He receives an extremely low score, effectively ruining his hobby and his confidence.

Later, on a snowy day, Stella is relaxing on a bench with Lee (Mark Gatiss), Donna's husband, with whom she's been having an affair. She tells Lee about her success with Solutions, Inc., but Lee claims he has never heard of the organization despite the help they apparently provided his and Donna's relationship. Suddenly, blood gushes from his throat and he falls over dead. One of the "Solutions" members then appears and reveals herself to be Donna. She used Charlie's razor to slit Lee's doll's throat, saying that this is the price and begins shouting for the police to arrest Stella, having framed her for Lee's murder. Unfortunately, Bernice cynically believes his story to be nothing more than a "cheese-dream" and kicks him out of her church; he cries as he wanders off into the night.

In Series 3, Charlie forms a partnership with Judee Levinson at the "Spit and Polish" beauty salon, where he is soon asked to give "extras" to customers (i.e. helping them masturbate). After he gives an "extra" to Tony (with whom Stella has had an affair), he struggles with homosexuality after suddenly developing feelings for Tony himself and even desiring to share Stella with Tony. When Tony goes on a date with Judee, Charlie confesses to have given the "extras." As a result, Tony is disgusted and beats him up, before Judee fires him and Stella announces she has won on the pools and is going on holiday without him. To crown it all, his order at the restaurant has to be cancelled, as they are out of calamari. Depressed and rejected, he wanders to the Windermere B & B, but it is closed for a private function. He gets caught up in the accident involving Pauline, Lance, Geoff and the Legz Akimbo van before being kidnapped by Keith Drop (aka Papa Lazarou) and imprisoned inside an elephant (although in his final appearance he is shown to be happy, as Brian was now keeping him company).

Charlie is usually seen wearing his Rotherham United replica home shirt from the 1996 season.

Charity Shop Workers

Vinnie Wythenshaw and Reenie Calver are two old ladies (Shearsmith and Pemberton) obsessed with carrier bags and whether the toys people donate have the 'special mark'. They are disorganised and skittish and have a particular dislike for the "Spastic" charity shop and "that Merrill", an unseen co-worker who works when they are "ill" on Thursdays. Reenie has a hearing disorder meaning that she misinterprets practically everything Vinnie or a customer says. They berate customers for being rude, even though their rudeness is often acceptable given the difficulty they have in processing even the simplest task.

In Series 3, Vinnie is killed when she falls off her motorised mobility scooter onto a large spike, in the process of chasing a red plastic bag that flew out of the Charity Shop window. This bag plays an important role in connecting all the storylines in Series 3 and having great significance in the motor accident at the end of each episode which links all the stories into one larger narrative as we see the accident from differing character's viewpoints. Her replacement turns out to be Keith Drop, whom Reenie befriends after losing her best friend. However, Keith reveals his true identity to be Papa Lazarou. Reenie and Brian follow him back to his house, attempting to find out what has happened to Brian's wife, but both are then kidnapped and imprisoned, Reenie inside a crocodile, Brian in an elephant.

Papa Lazarou has also been taking the possessions of his "wives" to sell at the charity shop, and this is why Brian begins to suspect that "Keith" (aka Papa Lazarou) knows something about his wife's disappearance - he finds, for sale in the shop, a brooch that she was wearing on the day she went missing.

Henry Portrait and Ally Welles

Two scruffy teenagers played by Pemberton and Shearsmith, who consider themselves to be film experts, but will only watch a film if it has a sufficient number of "killings". Named after, respectively, "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" and Leslie Halliwell. When not browsing the horror section at the local video rental shop or sitting in the cinema, they wandering the streets playing the game "Who would win out of.." in which they pair up famous film characters in hypothetical duels.

Papa Lazarou

Main article Papa Lazarou

Papa Lazarou (Shearsmith), blackfaced proprietor of a travelling circus and freak show, The Pandemonium Carnival, with a frighteningly acquisitive nature. In the first episode of series 2, Lazarou is introduced when he brings his circus to Royston Vasey. The episode also introduces his bizarre pastimes such as selling pegs and collecting wives. In one particularly memorable scene, he breaks into a woman's house, unrelentingly asking for "Dave" ("Hello Dave" and "Is Dave there?" have since become his catchphrases). He frightens her into giving him her wedding ring, before declaring "you're my wife now". This scene in particular was cited as one of the most macabre and genuinely frightening scenes from the series. However, he ran off when he realised that everyone in Royston Vasey was stranger than he was.

In series 3 he became even more sinister when he took on the disguise of Keith Drop at the Charity Shop, and demonstrated his more elaborate techniques of keeping his wives (and anyone who dared to rescue them) inside of his circus animals.

Papa Lazarou quickly became a fan favourite, despite only appearing in two episodes. He also featured in the Christmas special and the League of Gentleman's Apocalypse.

Papa Lazarou seems to display some unusual physiology. When disguised as Keith in the third series, part of his flesh-coloured make-up was scratched off, revealing his familiar colouration beneath. This suggests that this is in fact his natural skin, rather than Blackface. In his film appearance, he coughs up a hairball, composed of his own black curly hair.

Papa Lazarou doesn't seem to age. In the Christmas Special when he kidnaps Bernice's mother, he looks the same age as he does in the series.

According to interviews with Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton broadcast on the BBC, Papa Lazarou is based on Peter Papalazarou, one of their past landlords. Many of Papa Lazarou's catchphrases are based on the telephone conversations that Reece used to have with Papalazarou, including an insistence on speaking to Steve which generated the "Hello, Dave?" and "Is Dave there?" catchphrases.

Herr Lipp

Herr Wolf Lipp (Pemberton) is a gay German teacher from Duisburg, who visits Royston Vasey leading a tour group of German students. He becomes obsessed with Justin Smart, a boy with whom he is staying. Justin's mother comes down with a nosebleed during the epidemic, leaving Lipp more time to spend with him. He has not quite mastered the English language, so he often makes mistakes which come out as double entendres. He has been visiting Britain every year for over a decade, and has presumably come into contact with many schoolboys like Justin. In the penultimate episode of Series 2, he struggles to express his feelings for Justin before ending up throwing some drug-laced coffee in his face, causing him to collapse. When Lipp says goodbye to Mrs Smart (who survives the epidemic, having only been a "carrier"), it is revealed that he and his wife, Lotte (Gatiss), buried Justin alive, with only a snorkel to breathe through. He leaves saying "See you next year, Justin! Tschüß!" before stroking the snorkel.

In the Christmas Special, a man named Matthew Parker (Shearsmith) reveals how in 1975, he was part of an exchange programme and stayed with the Lipps, where Lipp conducted a boys church choir while Lotte played the organ. He gradually comes to believe that Lipp is a vampire and, when Lipp attempts to make advances on him, he misinterprets them as Lipp's attempts to make him into a vampire, but in the end it is revealed that Lotte is the one who was a vampire, as well as the choirboys, who she turned into vampires because the couple could not have children. Matthew flees the church, but the choirboys appear to consume Lipp before he can escape. He does not appear in Series 3.

In The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse he appears as a much more sympathetic character than before. He discovers that he is a character in the programme and disguises himself as his creator, Steve Pemberton, blending in at home and treating his wife and children far better than the real Pemberton appears to. He becomes upset at his status as a one-joke character, feeling it better for him to die than to carry on without Free Will, thus threatening to shoot Mark Gatiss with a flintlock pistol during the film's climax. He is convinced by Geoff to hand over the gun, Geoff subsequently accidentally shoots Gatiss dead. He is last seen looking after some children seeking their parents after the apocalypse.

In the live show, he is allowed some audience participation by playing "Blind Man's Poof" with an unfortunate young man.

Legz Akimbo

Legz Akimbo (Oliver Plimsoles, Dave Parkes, Phil Proctor) is a particularly earnest travelling theatre company. Ollie (Shearsmith) is the leader of the troupe; he writes, directs and produces all the work. He is still trying to cope with his discovery of his wife's lesbianism. Phil (Gatiss) is gay and both Dave (Pemberton) and Ollie are jealous of his ability to get film and television roles, but both Phil and Dave hate Ollie. They drive in their van, nicknamed "Bessie" (a possible homage to the car driven in Doctor Who, of which Gatiss is a longtime fan) and their slogan is "Legz Akimbo - Put Yourself in a Child!"

Gatiss' character, Phil Proctor, is no doubt named for Philip Proctor, a voice actor and longtime member of the radio comedy troupe, The Firesign Theatre, pioneers in the sort of bizarre, dense character comedy that the League explores.

In the first series, during a production of "Everybody Out!" (a play about homosexuality) at the local school in Royston Vasey, it is revealed that Phil is leaving the group at the end of the month as he has been "plucked for stardom" a fact that Dave and Ollie put down to his homosexuality. However, by the end of the episode, Dave reveals that he has also decided to leave the group, leaving Ollie exasperated. In Series 2, they are both back inexplicably, performing in a new play about homeless people called "No Home 4 Johnny". They are seen trying to calm the homeless at the town hall during the nosebleed epidemic, but instead it triggers an angry mob to confront Mayor Vaughan and, eventually, Tubbs and Edward.

In Series 3, they're together again, working on their latest play, "Vegetable Soup" (about the disabled) in the "Salmon of Knowledge" comedy club in London run by Geoff's old friend, Don Lynch (Gatiss). However, Ollie insists on trying out "extended improv" meaning that Dave must order a cake from a bakery whilst pretending he is "deafblind", while Phil sits in a wheelchair. Phil pretends to lie on the pavement and when a man spots him, he complains to Ollie, whose rude behaviour ends up in him being beaten up. Later, Ollie, now himself in a wheelchair from his injuries, witnesses Geoff stealing the Legz Akimbo van and heading back to Royston Vasey.

They play an important connecting role in the second live tour, organising a "Commu-nativity" for the inhabitants of Royston Vasey.

Also, Ollie's supposed email address was printed in the tour programme. One fan, after sending an email and discovering the address didn't exist, decided to set up the account in his own name, thereafter acting as Ollie on the dedicated forums and MSN Messenger. This mystery lasted for a short while until his identity was revealed as being a fan, with the "real" Ollie (Shearsmith) having no affiliation with it, although it was referenced in a blog on the official website.

Additional characters

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