Open main menu

Psychoville is a British psychological horror-thriller black comedy mystery television series created and written by and starring The League of Gentlemen members Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton for the BBC. It debuted on BBC Two on 18 June 2009. Pemberton and Shearsmith each play numerous characters, with Dawn French and Jason Tompkins in additional starring roles. The first series was followed by a Halloween special, broadcast on 31 October 2010, which saw Imelda Staunton added to the main cast along with previously supporting actors Eileen Atkins and Daniel Kaluuya. The second series started broadcasting on 5 May 2011[2] and ended on 6 June. Reece Shearsmith has officially announced that there will not be a third series.[3]

Psychoville titles.jpg
Title card from the second series
Created byReece Shearsmith
Steve Pemberton
Written byReece Shearsmith
Steve Pemberton
Directed byMatt Lipsey
StarringSteve Pemberton
Reece Shearsmith
Daniel Kaluuya
Dawn French
Eileen Atkins
Imelda Staunton
Jason Tompkins
Lisa Hammond
Theme music composerJoby Talbot
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series2
No. of episodes14 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Jon Plowman
Producer(s)Justin Davies
Running time30mins
Original networkBBC Two
Original release18 June 2009 (2009-06-18) –
6 June 2011 (2011-06-06)
Related showsThe League of Gentlemen
Inside No. 9
External links


The series revolves around five different characters from different parts of England: David Sowerbutts (played by Pemberton), a serial killer-obsessed man-child who still lives with his mother Maureen (Shearsmith); Mr. Jelly (Shearsmith), an embittered one-handed children's entertainer; Oscar Lomax (Pemberton), a blind millionaire who collects stuffed toy animals; Joy Aston (French), a midwife who treats a practice doll as if it is her real child; and Robert Greenspan (Tompkins), a panto dwarf in love with his Snow White who believes he has the power of telekinesis. All five are connected by a mysterious blackmailer who has sent them a letter each with the message: "I know what you did". The series is named after the title given to The League of Gentlemen when the series was sold to Japan and Korea.[4]


The series features a diverse set of five characters who live in different parts of England, all of whom have been blackmailed by the same individual (referred to in the credits for episode seven as "Black Gloved Man"), who has given them each a letter with the message "I know what you did…"[5][6][7][8] In the second episode, the blackmailer leaves them a second message that reads, "You killed her". In the third episode they receive a videotape showing them in an asylum together (several having previously revealed that they had been institutionalised) performing "Close Every Door" from the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It is later disclosed that the institution was called Ravenhill Hospital. In Episodes Five and Six, the characters discover the final message: a key depicting a raven. At least David's letter also contains the message "I'm waiting...".

Ultimately it is revealed that Joy, Robert, David and Oscar were involved in the death of Nurse Edwina Kenchington (Eileen Atkins), who is the blackmailer's mother, and Dr Stuart Strachen, aka Mr Jolly. Jolly blackmailed Jelly whom he blamed most, as he was operating on Jelly's hand (which was later amputated after the operation went wrong) while Kenchington was dying. David knocked her over and Joy pronounced her dead. The group started a fire to cover their tracks, but Kenchington woke up and attempted to escape. Oscar, Joy and Robert prevented her from leaving the room she was trapped in, but she somehow survived and returns to Ravenhill in the final episode looking for her locket. At the end of the series, Mr Jolly blows up part of the asylum with most of the main characters and Kenchington inside and it is revealed that Robert has the locket.

Series two begins with Mr Jelly, Oscar, and Oscar's assistant Michael, aka "Tealeaf", attending the funeral of Mr Jolly. Afterwards, Jelly is given a box of Jolly's props, which also turns out to contain Strachen's mobile phone and his ID card at Andrews Nanotech. Posing as Mr Jolly, Mr Jelly discovers that Strachen was using his surgical skills to deal in the black market organ trade, and that Kenchington had an account with a cryogenic storage facility where her late father Ehrlichmann's head was kept frozen. Meanwhile, Andrews Nanotech has hired a police detective to retrieve Kenchington's locket by any means necessary. Robert gives the locket to Debbie for safekeeping, but after Robert's death, Debbie gives it away to make-up lady Hattie. Detective Finney tracks down the former Ravenhill patients, questioning, then killing, Joy, Robert, and Oscar, and attempting to kill Mrs Wren. Oscar's friend, toyshop owner Peter Bishop, deduces that Oscar was killed for his connection to Ravenhill. He enlists Tealeaf's help with his investigation and they successfully retrieve the locket from Hattie before Finney can get to it, and contact Mr Jelly, whose own investigations have resulted in him taking possession of Ehrlichmann's frozen head. Bishop kills Tealeaf and travels to London with Mr Jelly to attempt to sell the locket and head to Grace Andrews. It is revealed that the method for restoring a frozen head to life, worked out by Edwina Kenchington, was microscopically engraved on the links of the locket chain, and using this information, Andrews' team is able to bring Erlichmann's head back to life. The head is subsequently destroyed, but the technique has been proven to work. The series ends with the revelation that David Sowerbutts is storing the corpse of his mother Maureen (who has died of cancer) in a bathtub filled with ice, suggesting that she could be resurrected by the same technique.

Main charactersEdit

Web presenceEdit

Shearsmith and Pemberton collaborated with Rob and Neil Gibbons to produce fictional web content to accompany the show including an interactive treasure hunt.[9] Fake websites and promotional websites were created for many of the characters to allow viewers of the programme to get "an overall Psychoville experience."

A new Psychoville Experience was created for series two, with a new interface and a selection of new fictional websites released after each episode. Viewers were asked to find a number each week and input them into a keypad to unlock a 'secret chamber' at the end of the series. The chamber once opened reveals the revived head of the Nazi Doctor Ehrlichmann (Kenchington's father). Five questions are asked and a certain amount correct gets you a free 'freeze and reanimation ticket' from CG Medistore and andrewsnanotech to print out. The websites were again written by Shearsmith and Pemberton.[10]


The main characters in the first series of Psychoville (left to right): Joy Aston, Oscar Lomax, Mr Jelly (back), Robert Greenspan (front), David Sowerbutts and Maureen Sowerbutts.

Principal charactersEdit

Actor Character No. of
Reece Shearsmith Mr Jelly 12 Children's Entertainer
Maureen Sowerbutts 12 David's mother
Brian MacMillan 3 "Evil Queen" in Snow White
Jeremy Goode 6 Obsessive Librarian
The Silent Singer 6 Appears to Jeremy when something bad is happening
Phil Walker 1 TV location scout
John Christie 1 Appears to David in a vision
Steve Pemberton David Sowerbutts 14 Ex-Ravenhill resident
Oscar Lomax 8 Ex-Ravenhill resident
George Aston 9 Joy's husband
Hattie 5 Shahrouz's blackmailing wife
Judge Pennywise 1 Clown in Mr Jelly's nightmare
Daniel Kaluuya Michael "Tealeaf" Fry 13 Oscar's home help
Dawn French Joy Aston 9 Ex-Ravenhill resident
Jason Tompkins Robert Greenspan 9 "Blusher" in Snow White, ex-Ravenhill resident
Eileen Atkins Edwina Kenchington 9 Nurse at Ravenhill Hospital
Imelda Staunton Grace Andrews 7 Wants Kenchington's locket
Vilma Hollingbery Claudia Wren 6 Care home resident and Jelly's assistant

Supporting castEdit

Actor Character No. of
Lisa Hammond Kerry 9 "Sniffy" in Snow White
Daisy Haggard Debbie Hart 7 "Snow White" in Snow White
Daniel Ings Kelvin 7 Grace's assistant
Adrian Scarborough Mr Jolly 6[nb 1] Dr Stuart Strachen
Elyes Gabel Shahrouz 6
Elizabeth Berrington Nicola 5[nb 1] A nurse, colleague of Joy
Alison Lintott Chelsea Crabtree 4 Kelly-Su's siamese twin
Debbie Chazen Kelly-Su Crabtree 4 Chelsea's siamese twin
Stacy Liu Jennifer 4[nb 1] Oscar's replacement home help
Christopher Biggins Himself 4 Director and "Prince Charming" in Snow White
Nick Holder Bob Dalton 3 Owner of Snappy the Crocodile
Alex Kelly Karen Dalton 3 Bob's wife
Aaron Smith Ian Dalton 3 Son of Bob and Karen
Sarah Solemani Emily 3 Robin's dinner guest, later David's companion
Nicholas Le Prevost Graham 2 "Murder and Chips" leader
Janet McTeer Cheryl 2 "Murder and Chips" actress
David Smallbone Martin Pike 2 "Murder and Chips" actor
David Bamber Robin 4 "Murder and Chips" actor
Natalie Cassidy Lorraine 2 "Murder and Chips" actress
Alex Waldmann Drew Aspinall[11] 1 Broke into Ravenhill as a child
Matthew Fenton
Daniel Millar AA Man 1 Tries in vain to fix Mr. Jelly's car
Sam Kisgart[nb 2] Jason Griffin 1 "Murder and Chips" auditionee
George Asprey John George Haigh 1 Appears to David in a vision
Eric Loren Albert DeSalvo 1 Appears to David in a vision
Glenn Carter Jack the Ripper 1 Appears to David in a vision
Huw Edwards Himself 1 Appears reading news on Joy's TV
Julian Bleach Doctor/Eddie 1 Appears in the Halloween special
Mark Bonnar Detective Finney 6
Jason Watkins Peter Bishop 5 Owner of "Hoyty-Toyties"
  1. ^ a b c Also appears in the Halloween special in stock footage.
  2. ^ Alias for Mark Gatiss


Filming for the series began at locations around London in October 2008, with plans for the show to be broadcast in 2009.[12] In May 2009 it was confirmed that the series would begin on 11 June,[13] although it was later rescheduled to 18 June.[14] In order to promote Psychoville's launch, digital agency Ralph & Co created a customisable viral video, which enabled users to seemingly broadcast their friends' darkest secrets on a digital billboard at London's Piccadilly Circus.[13]

Ratings and awardsEdit

Series Timeslot Episode Date of Episode UK viewers (BBC Two)
1 Thursday 22:00 BBC Two
(30 mins. each)
1 - Black Mail 18 June 2009 1.73 million
2 - Lomax 25 June 2009 1.29 million
3 - Jelly 2 July 2009 1.30 million
4 - David and Maureen 9 July 2009 1.41 million
5 - Joy 16 July 2009 1.31 million
6 - Robert 23 July 2009 1.08 million
7 - Ravenhill 30 July 2009 1.45 million
Sunday 22:00 BBC Two (1 hour) 8 - Halloween Special 31 October 2010 1.50 million
2 Thursday 22:00 BBC Two
(30 mins. each)
9 - Survivors 5 May 2011 1.15 million
10 - Dinner Party 12 May 2011 0.99 million
11 - Hancock 19 May 2011 0.74 million
12 - Sunnyvale 26 May 2011 0.66 million
13 - The Hunt 2 June 2011 0.80 million
Monday 22:00 BBC Two (30 mins.) 14 - Andrews Nanotech 6 June 2011 0.63 million


  • "Psychoville - Character Guides". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  • "Psychoville - Episode Guide". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  • "Psychoville - Characters". BBC. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  • "Psychoville - Episodes". BBC. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  1. ^ Fletcher, Alex (3 December 2012). "'League of Gentlemen' Duo Create New Dark BBC Comedy Anthology". Digital Spy. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Radio Times on Twitter".
  3. ^ Solutions, Powder Blue Internet Business. "Psychoville killed off : News 2011 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide".
  4. ^ Armstrong, Stephen (31 May 2009). "The League of Gentlemen launch Psychoville". London: Times Online. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  5. ^ Dowell, Ben (9 October 2008). "League Of Gentlemen duo back with BBC2 comedy Psychoville". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 February 2009.
  6. ^ "TV Preview: Psychoville + panel discussion". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 11 May 2009. Retrieved 15 May 2009.
  7. ^ "Psychoville". BBC. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  8. ^ "New show for League of Gentlemen". BBC Online. 9 October 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2009.
  9. ^ Psychoville - disclaimer. BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2009.
  10. ^ Psychoville - Experience. BBC. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  11. ^ "Psychoville – Characters: Drew Aspinall, played by Alex Waldmann". BBC.
  12. ^ Moore, Matthew (10 October 2008). "League of Gentlemen creators write new comedy Psychoville for BBC2". London: Retrieved 5 February 2009.
  13. ^ a b Bold, Ben (20 May 2009). "BBC launches blackmail viral to promote 'Psychoville'". Brand Republic. Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  14. ^ Armstrong, Stephen (31 May 2009). "The League of Gentlemen launch Psychoville". London: Times Online. Retrieved 8 June 2009.

External linksEdit