Directed by Steve Bendelack, starring Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Michael Sheen.

For Royston Vasey the end is nigh. With the writers of the TV show 'The League of Gentlemen' turning their attention to new projects, the town's inhabitants will perish unless they can get their creators to change their minds. Royston Vasey needs heroes, but twisted German teacher Herr Lipp (Pemberton), psycho butcher Hillary Briss (Gatiss) and embittered salesman Geoff Tipps (Shearsmith) will have to do instead. They leave the town through a portal underneath the local church and end up in the real world, where they track down Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, the men behind their small screen success. But when Herr Lipp finds himself more fulfilled as a Steve Pemberton doppelganger and Geoff ends up writing himself into a new comedy series, it seems there's no hope for the folks back home town.

TV comedies rarely translate into good films - witness 'Rising Damp', 'Porridge', 'On the Buses', 'Benny Hill' - and 'The League of Gentlemen' is yet another which loses something in the jump to the big screen. The first half-hour is excellent, where even those unfamiliar with the series will find plenty of laughs, but the script ultimately has both too much and not enough for a 90-minute film. Characters like Edward and Tubbs are sidelined in favour of the dreary Briss; the period drama subplot buckles under the 'Adaptation'-style storyline; the best gags are used up before the close and Gatiss, Pemberton, Shearsmith and fellow writer Jeremy Dyson fail to wring the full comedy out of the real world before taking the action hurriedly back to Royston Vasey.

Pemberton's Herr Lipp may be a one-trick character, but it's telling that the film's funniest and most moving moments involve him. There was no way that the walking double entendre would pull enough of an audience to have a film all to himself, but with an embarrassment of comedy riches Gatiss & co will still leave some fans feeling disappointed. No doubt others will have an ironic chuckle when they're told it's best to wait and see this film on television.

Harry Guerin