What the League did next: The last 15 years of Steve Pemberton

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. Now that Reece Shearsmith has been covered, Sophie turns her attention to Steve Pemberton…

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© BFI

Not long after The League of Gentlemen‘s third and final series aired, Steve starred in BBC musical comedy drama Blackpool with David Morrissey and David Tennant. In 2014 he also had TV roles in Shameless and Poirot, plus film roles in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers and Churchill: The Hollywood Years alongside many other big names in British comedy.

During 2005, Steve was in the film adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, voicing some Vogons with his The League of Gentlemen co-stars/co-writers Reece Shearsmith and Mark Gatiss, and he appeared in films including Match Point and The Last Detective. That year also saw the release of The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse – the group’s first and only outing on the big screen – and the film’s release was followed by their second major UK tour, The League of Gentlemen Are Behind You.

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Benidorm (© ITV) and Doctor Who (© BBC)

During the two years following The League of Gentlemen’s last tour, Steve popped up in TV shows such as Hotel Babylon and Kingdom, as well as in films like Mr Bean’s Holiday and the BBC’s Old Curiosity Shop. In 2007, he also started playing Mick Garvey in ITV sitcom Benidorm (a part that he would go on to play until 2015) and took to the stage in musical The Drowsy Chaperone. Over the next year, he appeared in Marple and had a lead role in Doctor Who two-parter ‘Forest of the Dead’ and ‘Silence in the Library’.

From 2009 to 2011, Steve worked with Reece Shearsmith 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, Steve played a wide range of characters throughout Psychoville including a simple-minded serial killer, an eccentric blind man and a deranged makeup artist. If you’re excited about The League of Gentlemen‘s return but have never seen Psychoville, rectify this immediately!

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Psychoville (© BBC) and Whitechapel (© BBC)

At the same time as playing a serial killer in Psychoville, Steve was coincidentally playing a ‘Ripperologist’ in BBC crime drama Whitechapel, which ran for four series from 2009 to 2013. A book written by Steve’s Whitechapel character can actually be spotted in the hands of David Sowerbutts at one point in Psychoville!

Alongside these two programmes, Steve also found time for theatre roles in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and She Stoops to Conquer, in addition to starring in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal on Sky1 and appearing in The First Men in the Moon, written by Mark Gatiss, as the Sun opposite Reece Shearsmith as the Moon. During the same year as Whitechapel‘s final series, he guest starred in an episode of Psychobitches, directed by The League of Gentlemen‘s Jeremy Dyson.

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Inside No. 9 (© BBC) and Happy Valley (© BBC)

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 Steve and Reece 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, Steve and Reece 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.

During the same year as Inside No. 9‘s first series, Steve played Kevin Weatherill in series 1 of Happy Valley and guest starred in an episode of Toast of London as ‘Francis Bacon’. He also somehow found the time to adapt E.F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia novels into a three-part BBC series, in which he starred as George Pillson alongside Mark Gatiss, Miranda Richardson and Anna Chancellor.

MappCamping

Mapp and Lucia (© BBC) and Camping (© Sky)

In 2015, Steve appeared in Lewis and in Professor Branestawm Returns, followed by a lead role in Julia Davis’ dark comedy Camping in 2016. Most recently, apart from Inside No. 9, Steve has popped up in an episode of Midsomer Murders and starred in a fantastic production of Dead Funny alongside Rufus Jones and Katherine Parkinson.

Coming up next for Steve is Inside No. 9‘s fourth series, which begins January 2nd on BBC Two, and we’re sure he has lots more planned too!

The League of Gentlemen returns to the BBC on December 18th, 19th and 20th. Stay tuned for our look at Mark Gatiss’ post-The League of Gentlemen career coming soon…

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