|~ Papa Lazarou's catchphrase.|
|“||You're my wife now!||„|
|~ Papa Lazarou upon claiming a woman as his wife.|
Papa Lazarou is an antagonistic character in The League Of Gentlemen. A circus ringmaster, he regularly kidnaps various people from the towns he and his circus visits, most of them women to be his wives. His inhuman actions towards his captives include but are not limited to locking a number of them up in a cage for his minion's torture with a hose and stitching them inside his circus animals.
In the 2017 three-part anniversary specials, he appears as the main antagonist as he gains the rights to the land Royston Vasey is on in order to build himself a "wife mine" underneath the town.
He was portrlayed by League of Gentlemen co-creator and co-writer Reece Shearsmith.
The League of Gentlemen (TV Series)
Papa Lazarou arrives in Royston Vasey with his circus. Whilst it is being set up he goes into town and kidnaps a housewife, in which he refers to her as Dave. Returning to the carnival he presents himself to his audience, and with an older female audience member claims to be channeling the spirit of her deceased husband and gets her to hand her wedding ring over to him. He then kidnaps the woman, saying that she is "His wife now". During the show, the nosebleed epidemic begins to break out with the audience members suffering from nosebleeds. This unnerves Lazarou, who along with his circus decides to flee Royston Vasey.
Papa Lazarou plays a major role in the story, in which it is revealed he was responsible for the kidnapping of Reverend Bernice's mother when she was a child. This event had caused Bernice to become very bitter and antagonistic towards others, and losing her faith in God.
At the end of the special when Bernice finally cheers up and feels happy again, Lazarou arrives back for her. She is then kidnapped by Lazarou, who tells her she is now his wife before riding off in a sleigh.
Papa Lazarou returns in the final episode "How the Elephant Got its Trunk" in which he is disguised as camp actor Keith Drop and begins working at the Charity Shop. He attempts to murder a suspecting man Brian, whose wife Lazarou kidnapped when the circus was last in town. Lazarou is knocked out by co-worker Renee and tied to a bed. Brian decides that they should allow Lazarou to escape and he will lead them to his wife Katie. Renee brings Lazarou food and leaves a knife there for him to cut his bonds. As Lazarou escapes, Renee and Brian follow him. They end up at a residential house, where Brian discovers women's clothing and a photograph of the real Keith Drop. Renee is captured by one of Lazarou's dwarfs, and Brian himself is captured by Lazarou.
Lazarou has Brian and Renee tied up. When Brian demands to know what happened to his wife, Lazarou checks his "Book of Wives" and decides to show Brian what she looks like now. Drugging Brian, Lazarou brings him to the circus tent where it is shown that Katy has been put inside a lion. Lazarou then tells Brian that he will now become part of an elephant.
Later on, Lazarou bumps into a man named Charlie (with a woman's wig on) and carries him away when he is caught up in a van accident (which was part of a big climax story arc throughout the third series).
In a montage at the end, Lazarou (still disguised as Keith Drop) and his dwarfs are overseeing their entrapped victims performing as the circus animals.
The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse
Papa Lazarou plays a supporting role in the film, in which he along with Edward and Tubbs Tattsyrup travel to the "real world" to confront their creators the League of Gentlemen after Royston Vasey is under threat due to the discontinuation of The League of Gentlemen TV series. They confront co-creator Jeremy Dyson, however, this causes him to panic and fall off a cliff and to his apparent death.
Later in the film, Lazarou meets with characters Hilary Briss, Herr Lipp and Geoff Tipps who have stumbled upon the real world to reveal the truth of their existence. Briss, Lipp, and Tipps are then sent to London to track down the remaining writers.
At the end of the film, Lazarou could be seen back in the fictional world of Royston Vasey (in which the disaster has been averted and the characters are given free will) and is seen waving to Geoff Tipps along with Edward and Tubbs.
Unlike his television show counterpart, Lazarou's role is not antagonistic, despite accidentally causing Jeremy Dyson to fall to his "death".
The League of Gentlemen (2017 Anniversary Specials)
|“||It's a wife mine now!||„|
|~ Papa Lazarou after capturing Tubbs Tattsyrup.|
In the 20th anniversary episodes, Papa Lazarou has been kidnapping women in Royston Vasey with the use of a photo booth, which drops the victims through the floor and into a tunnel, which he has turned into a mine to store his wives. In the last episode, Tubbs Tattsyrup becomes one of his victims when she drops through the floor and ends up in the mine, where Lazarou reveals himself. He also has the rights to the Royston Vasey land, which was sold to him by his former kidnap victim Reverend Bernice.
The League of Gentlemen Live Again! (2018 stage show)
In the stage show, Lazarou appears in segments which act as a continuation from the anniversary specials. He attempts to marry and kidnap recently widowed Val Denton, however she manages to escape before she can go through with her plan.
In the climax of the show, Edward infiltrates the wife mine in order to rescue Tubbs, and plants bombs in order to destroy it. Lazarou attempts to lure Tubbs back into the mine with the use of some sort of hypnotism, however Edward snaps her out of it and triggers the detonator before he and Tubbs to flee the cave. As the bombs detonate, Lazarou lets out an "oh shit" as he is caught in the explosion and presumably killed once and for all.
- The inspiration of Papa Lazarou came from Peter Papalazarou, the landlord of a flat shared by Steve Pemberton and Reece Sheersmith, who would insist on speaking to Pemberton whenever he called while refusing to talk to Sheersmith. This inspired Papa Lazarou's catchphrase in which he keeps asking for someone called Dave. An occasion in which the landlord called Pemberton regarding a hoover was also incorporated into the show, with 'hoover' being replaced with 'pegs'.
- Steve Pemberton was originally intended to portray Papa Lazarou, while Reece Shearsmith was intended to portray Pauline Campbell-Jones, but they switched roles after Shearsmith expressed reluctance to play Pauline.
- Going by the Christmas Special and the third series, Lazarou appears to be ageless and very old (possibly centuries). When he kidnaps Bernice's mother when she is only a small child (which would approximately be around 30 years before her adult life) he appears exactly the same. Also when going through his "Book of Wives", some of his "wives" go back at least a century. This implies that he may not be human, although his origin has never been elaborated on.
- Despite being the most bizarre (and possibly most evil) character in the series, Lazarou is shown to be unnerved when the people of Royston Vasey suffer from nose bleeds and even agrees with his fellow circus performers that the community freaks him out.
- Within the show he appears to be a Karma Houdini as he keeps getting off with his heinous crimes. However in the 2018 stage show (which follows up from the anniversary specials) he finally meets his downfall.
- The character faced some controversy in 2020 in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, due to being accused of being a blackface. This caused The League of Gentlemen (along with some other sitcoms) to be removed from Netflix, although the show remained on BBC Iplayer.