"We've written some ideas down for some TV specials," pleads pen-obsessed Pauline (Steve Pemberton) to her creators (er, Steve Pemberton and the other League Of Gentlemen writers), as her world is literally coming to an end. "We all go on holiday to Spain and the hotel isn't finished yet..." It's a sincere suggestion, but more significantly, a poke at the feeble outings of most small-to-big-screen Brit-com transitions. Trouble is, the demented genii behind the Beeb's cult comedy The League have only added to a list of damp squibs that includes Are You Being Served? (the Spanish hotel holiday hell), Guest House Paradiso and even Cannon and Ball's The Boys In Blue.
In the six years and 18 episodes since the macabre, nightmarish small-town characters of Royston Vasey bowed on BBC2, they've inspired fascination and repulsion in equal measure. But their creators have clearly had enough. Bored with the League, they've made a movie about trying to escape it (which is understandable but self-regarding and will leave newbies utterly bemused) and in their haste the Gents have forgotten what made the series so appealing in the first place. Gone is the rich, sickly melting pot of peculiar characters and the essential location of Royston Vasey, where the usual laws of reality, decency and normal behaviour don't apply. Skipping town and casting the characters outside their usual unsettling setting - leaving them confused and, worse still, self-aware - is a catastrophic misjudgement. It's no coincidence that the glimpses of the comedy troupe's "next project" - a flight of fantasy to 17th-century England, with them as wig-wearing, pox-marked English gentlemen - contain their most novel flourishes.
"Welcome To Royston Vasey, You'll Never Leave!" reads the sign that greets visitors to the sour town. Apocalypse pays the price for defying that ominous warning, although off screen you sense the makers are happy to have finally made their escape bid.