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Monday, 8 March, 1999, 13:59 GMT
BBC comedy in a different League
league of gentlemen
The League of Gentlemen is becoming an international hit
New comedy The League of Gentlemen is spearheading a boom in British comedy exports, along with The Fast Show and Goodness Gracious Me.

The surreal show was a hit at a BBC export fair last week - and several French broadcasters are fighting for the rights to the goings on in the sinister village of Royston Vasey.

The team behind the show play dozens of inhabitants of the village, including the couple who run the village shop, refusing to serve anyone who isn't "local".

They "went down a storm" at the Brighton fair, BBC Showcase 99, according to a spokeswoman for BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm.

caroline aherne
The Fast Show's Caroline Aherne: Success in Portugal
The success of the BBC's comedy shows helped BBC Worldwide to 9m worth of international sales in the past year.

Meanwhile, The Fast Show's Channel 9 sketch - which lampoons Mediterranean cable TV - has become a firm favourite in Portugal.

The sketches - best known for their "scorchio!" catchphrase - are shown as part of a compilation of the best of British comedy.

BBC Britcom - which also showcases 'Allo 'Allo, The Vicar of Dibley and Absolutely Fabulous - doubled its weekly audience within two weeks.

Asian sketch show Goodness Gracious Me is also becoming a hit for BBC Worldwide - the award-winning show is now being shown in France, Australia, New Zealand and Norway.

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