What the League did next: The last 15 years of Reece Shearsmith
With The League of Gentlemen back on our screens this month, we’re taking a look at what the group’s four members have been up to since the original TV series ended in 2002. First of all, Sophie focuses on Reece Shearsmith…
During the two years after The League of Gentlemen‘s third and final series aired, Reece took on two very different roles in two short-lived BBC comedies – the naive Dr Flynn in hospital sitcom tlc, where he starred alongside Alexander Armstrong and Richard Griffiths, and the psychotic Tony in Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s Catterick.
In the same year as Catterick, Reece also guest starred in an episode of Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere and made a brief appearance in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Shaun of the Dead, among the doppelgänger group that Shaun’s group bump into when they’re on their way to The Winchester. Reece had previously appeared in Spaced, which was of course written by Simon Pegg/Jessica Hynes and directed by Edgar Wright, as Robot Wars-obsessed TA soldier Dexter.
In 2005, Reece covertly reunited with The League of Gentlemen‘s Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss to voice some Vogons in the film adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The same year also saw a more obvious reunion in the form of The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse – the group’s first and only outing on the big screen. The film’s release was followed by their second major UK tour, The League of Gentlemen Are Behind You.
After appearing in a production of As You Like It and touring with The League of Gentlemen, Reece then took on his first role in a West End musical, playing mild-mannered accountant Leo Bloom in The Producers from 2006 to 2007. During 2007, he also made appearances in TV shows including Marple, The Abbey and Christmas at the Riviera.
In 2008, Reece had another theatre role in The Common Pursuit, and starred in horror film The Cottage alongside Andy Serkis. Two years later, he would reunite with Serkis, as well as Simon Pegg, in Burke and Hare – a film that gave him the chance to not only be a double act with comedy legend Ronnie Corbett, but also to work with An American Werewolf in London director John Landis, who would later make a guest appearance in Psychoville. In 2009, Reece reunited with Catterick co-star Mark Benton on the stage in Comedians.
From 2009 to 2011, Reece worked with Steve Pemberton to co-write and co-star in dark comedy drama Psychoville, which ran for two series with a Halloween special in-between. As with The League of Gentlemen, Reece played a wide range of characters throughout Psychoville including a bitter one-handed clown, a murderous old woman and a delusional librarian. If you’re excited about The League of Gentlemen‘s return but have never seen Psychoville, rectify this immediately!
Over the course of Psychoville‘s run, Reece found time to take to the stage in Ghost Stories, by Andy Nyman and The League of Gentlemen‘s Jeremy Dyson, and to play the father of Ernie Wise in Eric and Ernie, a BBC drama about the lives of Morecambe and Wise. He was also in Chekhov’s The Bear on Sky Arts with Julian Barratt and Julia Davis, and The First Men in the Moon, written by Mark Gatiss, as the Moon opposite Steve Pemberton as the Sun. While Psychoville‘s second and final series was on TV, Reece was starring in West End musical Betty Blue Eyes alongside Sarah Lancashire.
During his first year post-Psychoville, Reece had roles in Channel 4 comedy pilots The Function Room and Bad Sugar, the latter of which we really wish had become a full series, and starred in short horror film Him Indoors as an agoraphobic serial killer. He was also in Absent Friends in the West End alongside Katherine Parkinson, and RHLSTP listeners will no doubt remember that Reece appeared in The Hollow Crown that year as ‘Davy’.
In 2013, Reece had a major role on the big screen in Ben Wheatley’s psychological horror film A Field in England. He also popped up in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s The World’s End and played Patrick Troughton in An Adventure in Space and Time, a BBC drama about the origins of Doctor Who written by Mark Gatiss. He contributed to Dead Funny, a book of short horror stories by comedians, in 2014.
This brings us to Inside No. 9, which began in 2014 and has had three series so far, with a fourth set to air in early 2018. When the BBC had to decide between another series of Psychoville from Reece and Steve or something new, they opted for something new, and the result was a dark comedy anthology show influenced by the likes of Tales of the Unexpected, Beasts and Play for Today. In addition to co-writing and playing multiple roles in the show, Reece and Steve also turned their hand to directing for two episodes in the second series. If you’ve missed out on seeing Inside No. 9, the BBC is putting series 1-3 on iPlayer this month, so you can catch up before series 4 begins.
2014 saw Reece become a bit of an ITV favourite, starring in The Widower as real-life murderer Malcolm Webster and in Chasing Shadows as the eccentric DS Sean Stone alongside Doctor Who‘s Alex Kingston and Noel Clarke. Around this time he also appeared in Psychobitches, directed by none other than Jeremy Dyson, and reunited with Catterick co-stars Vic and Bob in House of Fools.
While Inside No. 9‘s second series aired, other comedy roles for Reece in 2015 included stinky fishmonger Ray in Peter Kay’s Car Share and the deranged Pastor John in Julia Davis’ Hunderby. He also had a lead role in Doctor Who episode ‘Sleep No More’, written by Mark Gatiss, and appeared in another Ben Wheatley film, High-Rise. Towards the end of the year, he took on the role of Syd in new Martin McDonagh play Hangmen – a role which he is set to reprise next year in a New York production of the play.
Alongside Inside No. 9‘s third series last year, Reece appeared in American musical comedy series Galavant and in Mid Morning Matters With Alan Partridge. He also had a part in BBC dark comedy drama Stag, and starred in a West End production of The Dresser with Ken Stott.
In addition to the upcoming fourth series of Inside No. 9 and the US production of Hangmen, it was recently announced that Reece will be playing William Shakespeare in Good Omens – an Amazon/BBC adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s novel. At the moment, Good Omens is expected to air in 2019, and we’re sure Reece will be up to plenty more in the meantime!
The League of Gentlemen returns to the BBC on December 18th, 19th and 20th. Stay tuned for our look at Steve Pemberton’s post-The League of Gentlemen career coming soon…
The “snow” falling across these pages is very annoying