Review By Paul Mount, 3.5 out of 5

The jury may still be out on the merits or otherwise of the most recent series of THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN with its continuing narrative and its lack of the more familiar Royston Vasey grotesques but here’s a timely release for 2000’s fifty-minute Christmas special which, viewed in retrospect, is where the idea for the new-style show clearly came from. The Christmas Special is very much in the tradition of the ‘portmanteau’ British horror films of the 1960’s/early 1970’s, a trio of loosely-linked horror stories with a twist. Here Royston’s foul-mouthed vicar Bernice is attempting to lock up the church for the festive season but she’s reckoned without three unexpected (and entirely unwanted) visitors who each have their own particular tales of terror to tell. The tales themselves are slight but entertaining and, as usual, the strength of the show is in its lavish production and convincing performances from the League itself. Oh, yes?t’s damned funny too. As with the third series, though, the impression remains that THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN is a bit too obsessed with its own cleverness and is really becoming a cult series too weird and too self-referential to appeal to the sort of wider audience the BBC may ultimately be looking for. But for now, this is classy stuff, another example of the superior off-the-wall comedy fare BBC2 are creating at the moment.

THE DISC: The League never stints its fans when it comes to DVD extras. There’s plenty here to satisfy even the most ardent Royston Vasey fanatic. There’s the usual boisterous commentary, an amusing documentary on the history of ‘portmanteau’ films, a Jackanory spoof with Mark Gatiss in fine form as the ill-fated Dr Chinnery, loads of out-takes and extended scenes and, as they say, much much m

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