The return of The League Of Gentlemen may fail to win over existing fans, star and co-creator Reece Shearsmith has warned.

The sketch show, based in the sinister fictional town of Royston Vasey, was a hit following its launch as a radio series in 1997 before running for three series on TV from 1999 until 2002.

It will return on its 20th anniversary for three 30-minute episodes over the festive period but Shearsmith, who stars alongside Mark Gatiss and Steve Pemberton, said a reboot always runs the risk of disappointing fans.

Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith in character (BBC/Ben Blackall)The League Of Gentlemen’s Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith in character (BBC/Ben Blackall)

Asked if critics may deem it a mistake to bring it back, he said: “Yes, there is that worry, but if you thought too long about that, you wouldn’t do it.

“Of course, even if this was better than the original League Of Gentlemen, there’d be some who would say, ‘They should never have done it and it’s terrible now’.

“Because to them, it’s in aspic as this brilliant thing and you meddle with it at your peril. They think you should just remain enigmatic. But then you’d never do anything.”

The League Of Gentlemen’s Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith in character (BBC/Ben Blackall)

Jeremy Dyson, who wrote the series alongside its three stars, revealed the foursome had never faced censure by the BBC during the making of the show.

“We have never been censored by the powers that be,” he said.

“We have always had those conversations ourselves, so we have always had a sense between us of where that line is, even if you couldn’t lay it out as a set of rules.”

The comedy will see Royston Vasey facing a threat more dire than anything it has faced before as boundary changes may erase the town from maps forever.

The three episodes will run over three consecutive evenings starting Monday December 18 on BBC Two.