"Guess who’s here! Where are my boys, eh? Where are my boys! Come on, I take you both on, eh?"
Pop ("The Road to Royston Vasey"[1])

Pop, played by Steve Pemberton, is a character in The League of Gentlemen who recurs across the first[1] and second[2][3][4][5] series, but only cameoing once in the third.[6] His popularity also gained him an appearance in both The League of Gentlemen: Live at Drury Lane[7]and The League of Gentlemen Are Behind You![8]

Pop's real name is unknown, and is simply referred to as Pop by his sons Al and Rich. He is portrayed as a heavy-accented Greek or Greek Cypriot, which is supported by a framed biblical quote written in Greek on the wall of his dining room. He is seen to be a perverted man in every appearance he has made, culminating in the discovery he also runs Flaps in Your Laps: a strip club in Royston Vasey[6]. Primarily he manages a chain of newsagent stands which he is said to have built up over the years[1], and in the second series is revealed to be a landlord as well,[4] using it as an opportunity to move in young women. Pop is also an aggressive and unforgiving parent, ultimately disowning Rich in their first and only appearance together[1] and has bullied others into renting from him[4].

Conception[edit | edit source]

Pop's attitude is based on real-life inspiration, while his foreign accent was added as when Jeremy Dyson first met Pemberton, he was playing Bamboola in Pantaglieze on stage. The foreign accent and energetic performance had stuck in Dyson's mind, but the League state no specific accent has ever been attributed to Pop. Another inspiration for the character was Bernard Manning's wiping of his brow on stage, which became the basis for Pop's regular action of wiping his hand across his face.[9]

Pop was first performed on stage in Highgate, London, during the early stages of production for the first series of The League of Gentlemen while the writers were trying to devise new characters for the transition from radio. Both Les McQueen and Papa Lazarou originated from these performances too. Pop was described as having a personality of "sentimentality" merged with "brute violence", while the script outlined in his first appearance that he should give his sons "the foulest type of porn" as a gift. In production, Pemberton was given parts of baby's dummies to insert into his nostrils to give them a flaring effect. These became stuck, and make-up artist Martine Randall struggled to remove them with tweezers. Ultimately, Pemberton forced them out by blowing his nose.[9]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Television series[edit | edit source]

Pop reacts aggressively to Rich allowing shoplifting, and ultimately disowns him.[1]

Al and Rich appear multiple times throughout their's and Pop's first appearance, with the brothers commenting about an unknown incident happening to Rich. When Pop is introduced, visiting his sons in their warehouse, he is initially enthusiastic until hearing that Rich has been shoplifted from. Initially reacting aggressively, Al manages to calm him down, although Pop apparently disowns Rich, directly naming Al "[his] only son."[1]

Pop and Al return in the second series, although Rich does not. Pop is briefly seen entering a massage parlour in the first episode[2] but features in a full sketch with Al in the following episode.[3] On this occasion he ultimately drives away Al's date Patricia who he is having dinner with, by flirting with her and openly discussing his pornographic movies - which he also had Al watch with him growing up. When Patricia leaves, Pop comforts Al singing "Bright Eyes". The following two episodes chart the events of him taking on two tenants: Gary and Lyn. In the first, he forces Gary to reluctantly sign a lease warning him of the consequences of "[breaking] a verbal agreement" and goading him for not being brave enough to sign without Lyn, despite the flat having no central heating[4]. He then bursts in on Gary and Lyn in bed in the next episode, giving them unusual gifts of a bull's heart and manure, before telling them his "lawyers" have insisted on putting up the rent £100, but he has bargained it to £90. He flirts with Lyn again, leaves them to their privacy but assures them he has his own key. It is then revealed he has hidden cameras recording all of his tenants for his own sexual gratification.[5]

Pop appears one final time in the third series[6] in which he is seen running Flaps in Your Laps, a strip club which Lance Longthorne visits. When his sentient transplanted arm pushes Queenie, a dancer, Pop orders Lance to be evicted.

On stage[edit | edit source]

Pop appears in both stage shows. In The League of Gentlemen: Live at Drury Lane[7], it is a re-enactment of the scene in which he disowns Rich in the first series[1], but as was the original intention[9], the scene is extended to reveal that there were no shoplifters, and Rich stole the Maverick bars from their own newsagents to Pop's dismay.

He also has a brief cameo in The League of Gentlemen Are Behind You![8] as part of the auditions for the "Communitivity" being directed by Legz Akimbo's Olly Plimsoles, having been headhunted to take part by Phil Proctor and Dave Parkes. He appears as a potential innkeeper, but shows disgust at the use of the term "Mary Queen" and exits.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Pemberton described Pop as one of his favourite characters, and his first appearance as one of his favourite scenes within the first series.[9] Leon Hunt deemed him the programme's "fullest manifestation of monstrous masculinity, a bad father of frightening proportions."[10]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Series 1, episode 2: "The Road to Royston Vasey" (Dyson, Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearsmith) (aired 18 January 1999)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Series 2, episode 1: "Destination: Royston Vasey" (Dyson, Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearsmith) (aired 14 January 2000)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Series 2, episode 2: "Lust for Royston Vasey" (Dyson, Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearsmith) (aired 21 January 2000)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Series 2, episode 3: A Plague On Royston Vasey" (Dyson, Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearsmith) (aired 4 February 2000)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Series 2, episode 4: "Death in Royston Vasey" (Dyson, Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearsmith) (aired 4 February 2000)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Series 3, episode 2: "The One-Armed Man is King" (Dyson, Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearsmith) (aired 3 October 2002)
  7. 7.0 7.1 The League of Gentlemen: Live at Drury Lane (Dyson, Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearsmith) (performed 2001)
  8. 8.0 8.1 The League of Gentlemen Are Behind You! (Dyson, Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearsmith) (performed 2005)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 "The Road to Royston Vasey" audio commentary (Dyson, Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearmsith) (released 13 November 2000 on The League of Gentlemen - Series 1)
  10. The League of Gentlemen (BFI TV Classics) (Leon Hunt) (published 2008) (p. 42)

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