Entertainment & Arts

ITV's new gay sitcom Vicious fails to impress critics

Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi in Vicious
Image caption Sir Ian and Sir Derek play gay couple Freddie and Stuart in their new ITV sitcom

Veteran British actors Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi have received mixed reviews for their new ITV sitcom Vicious.

Created by Will and Grace writer Gary Janetti and award-winning playwright Mark Ravenhill, it sees the actor knights play a bickering gay couple.

The comedy, set in a cramped flat in London's Covent Garden, also features Rising Damp actress Frances De La Tour.

Some critics panned the show, with the Telegraph giving it a one star review.

The show centres around Freddie, played by the 73-year-old McKellen, and his partner of 50 years Stuart, portrayed by the 74-year-old Jacobi.

Daily Telegraph - Benjamin Secher

What on Earth were they thinking?

The makers of Vicious, ITV's latest stab at a sitcom, have squandered not only the estimable acting talents of Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Derek Jacobi and Frances de la Tour, but also the combined screenwriting welly of Olivier Award-winning playwright Mark Ravenhill and Gary Janetti (Will and Grace) on perhaps the least funny new comedy in recent memory.

Read More

The Guardian - Sam Wollaston

More like caricatures of themselves: they're camped up to the max, actual drama queens. And they're Acting with a capital A - thespian jousting. Take that darling, no you take that, ouch, you bitch. Which is rather fabulous.

Something like Frasier meets Will and Grace meets Henry V. Oh, and then Frances de la Tour turns up, as their bessie mate Violet, and joins the fun.

It's just a shame that the vehicle in which they find themselves isn't a better one. It's not just old-fashioned, pre-Office TV comedy (as opposed to post-office comedy, which is something else, possibly), it's also, frankly, a bit lame.

Read More

Time Out - Gabriel Tate

Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi have a ball as a bitching couple living in a cobwebbed, sepulchral flat, lusting after hunky new neighbour Iwan Rheon, confiding in best friend Frances De La Tour and hamming it up wherever possible.

It's a very traditional studio sitcom setup, made watchable by its stars and enjoyable by a waspish script. Also, in its combination of old age and homosexuality, it could be argued to have broken a little ground.

Not that creators Mark Ravenhill and Gary Janetti much care about that: this show is all about low blows and easy laughs - at which it excels.

Read More

Daily Mirror - Ian Hyland

Vicious was a particular letdown.

Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi may well be legendary actors, but it's going to take a lot to convince me that this isn't just a pair of gay refugees from a ­Benidorm script rewrite theatrically bitching each other off for half an hour.

Read More

Daily Mail - Christopher Stevens

Jacobi and McKellen, who are both gay and in long-term relationships themselves, are having huge fun with their characters. Add Frances de la Tour, a sitcom stalwart since Rising Damp in the seventies, and this show is an instant classic.

Even the theme tune was right: Eighties pop duo the Communards, doing their cover of The Jackson 5's Never Can Say Goodbye.

Read More

The Times - Alex Hardy

The first episode, set exclusively in the dark grandeur of the men's flat, was ostensibly a wake for a dead friend. But what the writers were playing, mainly, was punchline pinball.

Set-up, gag, set-up, gag: there's a pow-pow-pow pace here, created by playwright Mark Ravenhill and co-writer Gary Janetti (Will and Grace, Family Guy).

It's not really to my personal taste - I no more like a laughter track on a comedy than I do a scream track on a horror, or a drama with added "quizzical eyebrow" prompts.

But Vicious remembers the "com" of "sitcom" in a way that many others do not (I mean you, The Wright Way). And yes, it's about a gay couple, but it also punches hard on the themes of ageing and insularity.

Read More (subscription service)

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites