- "I've had a... special delivery."
- Hilary Briss (Nightmare in Royston Vasey)
Hilary Briss, portrayed by Mark Gatiss is a central character in the narrative of first two series of The League of Gentlemen before being written out, but gains an important role in The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse.
Introduced as Royston Vasey's malevolent and mysterious butcher in the first episode, the first series charts his importing of special stuff - a mysterious food source of unknown origin sold to a select few.
Hilary first serves a woman, after which Councillor Samuel Chignell (Shearsmith) enters talking about the New Road but once they are sure nobody is there, Hilary gives Sam his order of the Special Stuff, it's clear that it's illegal but, as Sam says, it's tastes too good. When Hilary, Sam and Magistrate Maurice Evans (Pemberton) are chatting about the road, however, Briss offers Evans a free portion of the Stuff but he refuses. However, in the Social Hall Hilary forces it on Sam to pocket the packet due to the other men walking passed.
At Mike Harris' Wedding to Cheryl, Geoff makes a thanks to Hilary for catering the meal saying how tasty the sausages are, suggesting that he used the Special Stuff in them. That night Maurice was banging the Butcher Shop door waking Hilary, he tells him to stop he'll wake Mrs Briss, Maurice wants more of the stuff now addicted, sensing the pleads Hilary gives in. When Maurice gets his from the Freezer, he sees that Sam is there half-naked and stoned wanting more as well.
While chatting to Sam, a young man called Collier comes in after doing his normal order asks for the Stuff, but they try to put him off and when he threatens Hilary with Police, Inspector Cox comes out the back meaning Collier's threat was useless, the kid runs off. While at a urinal, Maurice comes to Hilary to making sure that that night's meeting is still going ahead which it is. That night Maurice comes late and has also brought his wife Eunice, Hilary discovers that she knows and Maurice has told non-members which has Hilary forcing him to leave and the ranks are closed tighter. The next day with the Nosebleeds Plague growing Sam states his fears or that Maurice would turn them in but Hilary is more than confident about him not telling due his dealings.
However, it reaches a point that he is forced to not sell anything, Maurice comes in scared that the Special Stuff has caused it, but Hilary reminds him all the victims are not his select customers, just then Sam comes in with a piece of meat from Eunice's nibble box it's the Special Stuff. In anger, they confront Maurice he admits he only just found out she used the stuff and has cut it with her own paste making it cause the nosebleeds. When Sam remarks they all ate it as well, Hilary admits he never touches the stuff, as he leaves them to begin bleeding.
Afterwards, Hilary admits to his wife he has to leave knowing she is fine, however after the arrests begin Briss has disappeared and they discover his wife is a cow. Hilary is seen in the Caribbean owning a cafe, he, however, is still selling the Special Stuff.
Despite not appearing, there is a report of Nosebleeds in the Caribbean suggesting Briss is to blame.
The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse
Hilary returns, clad in handcuffs, and being chased by the police across the moors, 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. This may be why, despite the film being set in a "bubble", he does not appear in the 2017 specials. Gatiss' revival of the character in The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse made him a more aggressive and outright villain, but the character achieves redemption in the film's narrative when he loses his life in his loyalty to Royston Vasey.
Are Behind You
Hilary is Papa Lazarou's magic mirror slave, who reveals that Papa needs one more wife who will fit the Crystal Moonboot, however unknown to Papa it's Hilary's plan to free himself from the mirror. After discovering that Barbara is the final wife, Papa commits suicide by jumping into the mirror freeing Hilary, who called Bab's Cabs and they marry.
Hilary appears in Act Two teaming up with Edward to free Tubbs and the other women from the Wife Mine.
- When Maurice takes the stuff in the Snooker Hall the grown men that go pass sound like they are wearing heels.
- When you see Hilary in the Caribbean look behind him in the close-up and see there are people riding horses in the water.
The Special Stuff
Though it is never revealed what "special stuff" consists of, many have assumed that it is human meat. However, the writers have denied that this is the case, stating that they can think of "nothing more mundane than cannibalism", and indicating that it is something much worse. However, the Season 1 DVD includes a fragment of brainstorming materials in its bonus section, on which the idea of the butcher selling human appendices obtained from the local hospital is listed. Others suspect it is a highly addictive substance like cocaine, given various clues throughout Seasons 1 and 2. As revealed in season 2, Hilary's wife is a cow. Some may believe that the special stuff might be the meat of some kind of cow human hybrid that comes from his intercourse with the cow. Even the writers were apparently not sure what the special stuff was at the beginning of the series. The only clue from the original live shows as to what the substance is that it rhymes with "drawstring", which has led some fans to believe that the "special stuff" is circumcised foreskins. Another clue is that the Hebrew for circumcision is Brit milah, which, when used in everyday English, is known as a "Brit"--or, more regularly--a "Bris."
Behind the Scenes
- Hilary first name came from Sir. Hilary Bray from On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
- When they recorded the first Briss sketch Mark and Reece played it as if they were dealing with the worst of pornography and the actor who played Collier was directed to ask for a porno mag.
- The scene of Maurice begging for the stuff was the moment the League decided that Mrs. Briss is a cow.
- Once Steve brought his aunt to the taping which included a Briss sketch and at the end she asked "Steve... is it Sausages?"