A/V Room









League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse - Mark Gatiss

Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. Was it a tough deciding what to leave out because fans' want/expect to see their favourite characters?
It's kind of like as it says in the film, they're too bizarre to carry - but mostly the story led in the direction of Hilary, Geoff and Herr Lipp and with Herr Lipp and Geoff being a kind of Abbott and Costello thing, they needed a sort of leader who is straighter really and it came together like that. The story was just gelling so we went in that direction.
But we were very disappointed we couldn't have more appearances because we did think early on there'd be a way of having, if there was a supermarket it would be Iris and Judy and it wouldn't alienate a new audience, but to a fan it would be quite beneficial - but we simply couldn't afford it.

Q. Was it easier playing yourselves in the film?
We thought we might give ourselves comic characteristics but it just absolutely fought the whole idea. The whole idea is it's just the character's journey that you're interested in so we just had to become sort of phantoms really.

Q. Did you try to get Jeremy to play himself?
We pushed him off a cliff and that's how it all started really.
Steve Pemberton: No he wanted to and we said `absolutely not' [laughs]

Q. Did you film your doubles using women?
There was a funny moment when we were filming in Bray, by the sea, and the doubles for Tubbs and Edward and Papa Lazarou were having a fag, and I filmed it actually - because it was like the film come true - there was a lot of sea spray and it was cold and there they were, it was really quite creepy.

Q. When you wrote this film did you assume the audience would know all the characters?
No quite the reverse. It's a funny thing, we've had some responses from people who know the series who were worried they'd get it but no one else will, but a lot of people who haven't seen it, (apparently there are!) have no problem because we strove very hard from the beginning to make it very 'gettable'.
There's a sort of sketch show introduction where the characters are introduced and then the principle character of the thing - is that there's a TV series and they find out they're fictional is all in there. But absolutely, you couldn't start with that principle because it's deliberately inward-looking.
Having said that, obviously it is a spin-off film, it has to be, because that's how we got the money! And to some extent you've got to just know that in the pre-publicity everyone's going to say, 'and a certain amount of people might be put off thinking well I've never seen it.' But we'd certainly like to believe that you could completely get it - there's no reason why you shouldn't.

Q. When did you first realise the show/characters had taken on a life of their own?
A: It does build, if you've been on TV for like six years and with the amount of repeats - and that sort of presence you start to build with a body of work it really does make a difference. It's very different to just being like the catchphrase of the day and then the series is gone again. If you keep coming back it definitely builds; we get much more recognition now than we used to.

Q. The film features cameos from the likes of Victoria Wood and Peter Kay. Were they happy to run with the script or keen to offer their own input?
Victoria had nothing to go on, it was just like two lines, so she just made every line up.
Reece Shearsmith: And then we cut them all out! It was great to have Simon and Peter do that, what a cameo should be, literally one line and it meant coming to Ireland to do it. Peter did do a lot more stuff but we cut it all out.
Steve Pemberton: He knew why he was there; he did this whole extra stuff and then said to the camera, 'you'll only see this on the DVD'.

Q. What would you say to those who think you're the real deal and Little Britain can only dream?
God bless you! We do exist in a sort of bubble really - we've been together for 10 years and we've known each other for 20 years so we just keep moving to our next project.
I mean, we know people like Simon and Peter and Matt and David very well and occasionally sort of cross fertilise but mostly we just get on with our thing. We don't really get caught up in that idea of a sort of movement really. I've always felt we've been outside, not deliberately really - like a dirty cat!

Q. Do you enjoy taking on straight acting roles?
Very much as long as people believe we can do it. I just did The Quatermass Experiment and I saw a review which said 'Mark Gatiss reminding us that he's a straight actor, not just a comedian.' 'Not Just!' It's not easy. There's always this slightly pejorative air - comedy is very tough and I think it's curiously always like the poor relation to the idea of straight acting and it's absolutely as valid.

Q. What's next for you?
We'd love to do another movie but we just have to see how this does really and we've reached a natural crossroads after 10 years, the BBC have asked us to do another series but it just depends really.
The big thing about film is it's taken a long time, well not in terms of many projects for people - two years from beginning to end, but we're doing another tour in the Autumn. If we have a break and then start to think about another film, it still starts to become three years hence.
I'm doing another series of Nighty Night very soon and I'm writing another Dr Who as we speak - actually with my foot!

Q. Have you ever been censored... told that's going too far?
No. I sometimes think that the episodes have gone out and the only person who's actually checked them is the engineer to make sure there isn't a scratch on it!
We were taken out to lunch by a guy from the Independent after the second series with the charity shop ladies' sketch about the woman who's lost a child through a cot death.
He was wasn't attacking us but his friends had had a sad experience with a child like that and he just wanted to know what we thought we were doing.
But I think we successfully argued that the whole point of it was that it's about two very insensitive old ladies who have no idea what they're saying - it's not us just saying 'isn't it hysterical to laugh at the idea of cot deaths'. So we've always had that kind of thing going on.
Steve Pemberton: People who work in charity shops have asked for that tape to show their staff what (not) to do.

Q. What feedback have you had regarding your Dr Who episode - which was the scariest episode ever?
I've had fantastic feedback! It's extraordinary, really everyone seems to have seen it and I had to go on PM, which was an ambition, there's only the Today Programme left, to defend it's scariness to Eddie Meyer and he was very grim and he said 'how do you feel?' And I said 'I'm absolutely thrilled of course, that's what it's meant to do!' My work is done.

Q. What makes you laugh and what scares you?
Laugh? At the moment I'm loving Mark Wooton as Shirley Ghostman, it's hysterically funny, a brilliant thing and probably scares me as much. And I'm scared of dolls, small thin dolls, creepy dolls - that come alive!




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