PENNY WILSON on Hadfield, in a league of its own...
Local shops for local people -
there's nothing for you here
Ah, but that's where you're wrong, as vast numbers of people
who are flocking to Hadfield, becoming more famously known
as Royston Vasey, are finding.
It is ironic that the local shop in The Leaque of Gentlemen
television series, which actively discourages strangers
from crossing its threshold (by quite unorthodox means),
should actually be encouraging people who are by no means
local to come to Hadfield to discover its local shops!
Fans of the programme are making the pilgrimage from all
over this country and abroad and having their photographs
taken outside shops which have become famous after being
used as locations.
One such tourist dashed into Mettricks the butchers asking
for some Sellotape so he could tape his nose up to look
like Tubbs and Edward. Mettricks obliged and the tourist
went home delighted, and with a very strange snap for the
As all devotees will know, Mettrick's shop sign is changed
to 'H. Briss & Son' for the show, a shop which sells
'special stuff' of a highly suspect nature. Mettricks themselves
also have Special Sausages for sale, and they will not reveal
We are assured, however, that their secret ingredient is
merely of an alcoholic nature.
Steve Pemberton, one of the four writers of The League,
has admitted that "75 or 80% of the characters do have
basis in real people, believe it or not." Some of the
characters and situations are lifted directly from experiences
Steve and his fellow writers and actors Mark Gatiss, Reece
Shearsmith and writer Jeremy Dyson have actually had.
Tubbs, for example, is based on a real shopkeeper the team
came across in Rottingdean, who was terrified when they
walked into the shop, and cowered behind the counter. Once
you know this, then look around at people you come across
every day, you suddenly realise that even the most boring
person you can think of could in fact become a larger-than-life
character when in their hands.
Gill at The Palatine Pub has no need of writers to make
her customers larger than life. As she says herself: "I
don't need to pay for entertainment, I've got it all right
Strange things happen all the time, thanks to the spontaneity
and sense of fun of the locals. There was the time when
she had stitches in her head and was all bandaged up, and
the next thing she knew everyone in the bar also had their
heads in bandages, which turned out to be reams of loo-paper
handed out by the bar staff as a joke. Needless to say,
this resulted in Gill having stitches in her sides as well
as in her head!
The Royston Vasey catch phrase has increased the pub's
already friendly and welcoming atmosphere, because if a
stranger comes in, they only have to be asked "Are
you local?" and after a chat and a laugh, they feel
completely at home.
Gill says: "You have to come in and see my characters
for yourself. They are unbelievable!"
Geoff Pownall at P.C.F.Electrical Supplies will believe
anything of the characters in Hadfield, having once been
in the pie shop waiting to be served when a man marched
in, went straight up to the counter and said firmly: "A
pork pie, please". Then he turned to the other customers
and asked: "Am I pushing in?" Such was everyone's
amazement at his behaviour that they all shook their heads
and said "No". To cap it all, the man then picked
up the icing sugar shaker, thinking it was salt, and sprinkled
his pie with sugar. When it was pointed out to him, he just
said, "Well, it'll save me buying a bun for after."
As they say, 'There's nowt so queer as folk', and it seems
quite a lot of them live in Hadfield!
Another funny incident at P.F.C. was when a man jumped
out of a Range-Rover, ran into the shop and asked, breathlessly,
"Do you sell saddles?"
"Er, no", said the bemused shopkeeper, and directed
him across the road to Country Sport.
With the growing popularity of the series, Hadfield residents
have found the town swarming with visitors with cameras.
One of the most unusual things they want to photograph is
the blackboard at The Masons Arms. The words 'Creme Brulee'
have been left there ever since the pub was used as the
location for the scene with the band of that name.
Linda the landlady must have had some sort of premonition
several months ago, since she had already named the delicious
burgers on the menu 'Special Burgers', little realising
how significant that name was to be.
Florists always pride themselves on the freshness of their
flowers, and Sylvia Dutton's family business is no exception.
So they were all somewhat flabbergasted when the production
team asked if they could supply a whole shop full of dead
and dying flowers to dress the florist's shop they were
creating for the programme.
For the next couple of weeks Stuart Dutton put aside any
old flowers he had, hiding them in the old Nat West Bank
next door. When the BBC came to pick them up, they opened
the door to the room where he had been saving them and the
stench had them reeling!
In spite of that, they were delighted with what they had
been able to supply.
Sylvia's shop will supply beautiful flowers, expertly arranged
for any occasion, though it is to be hoped there won't be
too many occasions when they have to supply a four-foot
long Rude Word, as requested by the programme!
Visitors to 'Royston Vasey' will find local souvenirs in
the shape of calendars, keyrings, maps and bookmarks at
D & D Newsagents. The oddest thing to happen there recently
was an invasion by the BBC. "Quite frightening"
according to David, the owner.
People in the town are getting used to film crews and interviewers
asking questions, and are taking it all in good humour and
enjoying the light hearted lift it is bringing to Hadfield.
Denise, whose hairdressing salon Denair has been open for
just over twelve months, can attest to the friendliness
of the locals even if you don't happen to be local yourself.
She was completely new to Hadfield, having lived in Malta
for ten years, but has received a really warm welcome and
now has a happy and growing clientele.
If you really feel like getting into the spirit of Royston
Vasey, perhaps you could have a Pauline style haircut? Whistles
unisex hairdressers can oblige with all styles and colours,
and you can rely on them to please you with a haircut which
will really suit you.
The real 'Royston Vasey', Chubby Brown the comedian (whose
name The League of Gentlemen picked for their mythical town
as an in-joke) came into Edward's Wine Bar for a drink during
filming when he played the Mayor, and the location directors
came in on the final day and ordered three bottles of champagne.
They were very impressed with the friendly atmosphere.
Mark, Steve, Reece and Jeremy spent quite a long time looking
for a place which would match their idea of Royston Vasey.
"We wanted somewhere with a good High Street with lots
of different possible locations for things," said Mark.
When Hadfield was suggested and the team came up to have
a look, they all felt it was exactly right, with its "certain
kind of architecture" and "amazing vista - the
moors", enthused Jeremy. "We came up and thought
- Ooh, it's lovely", said Mark.
Perhaps they will never leave.............
© This feature appears with kind permission of the
Tameside Reporter/Glossop Chroniclenewspaper.