Vicious (TV series)

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Vicious
Vicious (TV series).png
Genre Sitcom
Created by Mark Ravenhill
Gary Janetti
Written by Gary Janetti
Directed by Ed Bye
Starring Derek Jacobi
Ian McKellen
Frances de la Tour
Iwan Rheon
Marcia Warren
Philip Voss
Opening theme "Never Can Say Goodbye" by The Communards
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 13 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Jane Featherstone
Gary Janetti
Producer(s) Gary Reich
Editor(s) Chris Wadsworth
Mark Wybourne
Location(s) The London Studios
Running time 30 minutes (inc. adverts)
Production company(s) Brown Eyed Boy and Kudos Productions
Release
Original channel ITV
Picture format 16:9
Original release 29 April 2013 (2013-04-29) – present

Vicious is a British sitcom shown on ITV. The series stars Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as Freddie and Stuart, an elderly gay couple who have been together for 50 years but endure a love/hate relationship.[1][2] The series premiered on 29 April 2013[3] and garnered 5.78 million viewers.

The first series ended on 10 June 2013, and was released on DVD on 20 November 2013.[4][5] On 23 August 2013, it was confirmed that Vicious had been renewed for a second series, to begin airing on 1 June 2015.[6]

Starting in late June 2014, the first series began airing in the United States on various PBS stations.[7]

Series overview[edit]

Vicious tells the story of ageing partners Freddie and Stuart, two men who have lived together in their Covent Garden flat for 48 years. Freddie was a budding actor and Stuart worked in a bar when they first met, but their careers are pretty much over and their lives now consist of entertaining their frequent guests, making sure that their aged dog Balthazar is still breathing, and hurling caustic insults at each other.

Cast and characters[edit]

  • Derek Jacobi as Stuart Bixby – A former bar manager with an aged mother named Mildred who (until the last episode of series 1) was clueless as to her son's relationship with Freddie. It was revealed in the Christmas special that Stuart did have a fling with Penelope.
  • Ian McKellen as Freddie Thornhill – An over-the-hill actor whose career consisted mainly of bit parts. Although his career never really took off, he insists on behaving as if it did and still does.
  • Frances de la Tour as Violet Crosby – A close friend of Freddie and Stuart, who has designs on Ash, their young, handsome neighbour.
  • Iwan Rheon as Ash Weston – Freddie and Stuart's handsome but heterosexual 22-year-old new neighbour whom they befriend after he moves into the flat upstairs.
  • Marcia Warren as Penelope – A dotty old friend of Freddie and Stuart.
  • Philip Voss as Mason – Another elderly friend of Freddie and Stuart, often as sharp-tongued as they are.
  • Georgina King as Jess – Ash's new girlfriend (series 2—)

Guest cast[edit]

Series 1
Series 2
  • Celia Imrie as Lilian – Violet's sister (episode 1)

Episodes[edit]

Series 1 (2013)[edit]

Total
no.
Series
no.
Title Director Writer Original air date Viewers
(millions)[8]
1 1 "Episode 1" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 29 April 2013 (2013-04-29) 5.78
Freddie and Stuart host a wake to mark the passing of an old friend. Joined by their small circle of elderly friends, the couple manage to create a splendidly awkward evening of very little food and biting insults. They are also joined by their young new neighbour Ash, who spends the evening attempting to be a good guest whilst fending off the advances of Freddie and Stuart's best friend Violet.
2 2 "Episode 2" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 6 May 2013 (2013-05-06) 3.82
New neighbour Ash seeks advice from them on winning back his ex-girlfriend, and Violet and Penelope take Ash shopping for a gift. Spotting Stuart working in a men's outfitters, the trio suspects him of having an affair, but Stuart admits that he has taken a job because Freddie's acting career is currently not bringing in enough money. Later, Freddie goes to the shop and makes the same discovery, but pretends to believe that Stuart is having an affair because he does not want to hurt his pride. Ash tells Violet that he won his girlfriend back, but after witnessing the sacrifices of Freddie and Stuart, admires their closeness and ends his frivolous relationship.
3 3 "Episode 3" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 13 May 2013 (2013-05-13) 2.78
Freddie has an important audition coming up whilst Ash frets over his own career direction. Freddie suggests that Ash pursue acting and teaches him the tricks of the trade, only to injure his confidence when Ash immediately secures an acting role; noting Freddie's new state of depression, Stuart schemes to renew his confidence. Meanwhile, Violet seeks advice from Freddie and Stuart on her sordid love affair with her Hungarian internet boyfriend.
4 4 "Episode 4" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 20 May 2013 (2013-05-20) 2.55 (overnight†)[9]
Ash invites Freddie, Stuart, Penelope and Mason to go clubbing, which Freddie and Stuart turn into a popularity contest. After becoming more popular with Ash's friends than Stuart, Freddie boasts his success, only to feel out of place due to his age. Realizing his inappropriate behaviour and selfishness, he then apologizes and makes up with Stuart. Meanwhile, Violet heads abroad to Argentina in order to meet her new online partner.
5 5 "Episode 5" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 3 June 2013 (2013-06-03) 2.53
Freddie, feeling low as his acting jobs appear to be drying up, invites Ash and his vegan girlfriend Chloe (Alexandra Roach) for one of Stuart's dinner parties. Finding Chloe both naïve and irritating, Stuart and Freddie endure the young couple's saccharine behaviour, only to later relish the bickering that develops. Meanwhile, Violet visits her internet boyfriend in Argentina, only to be handcuffed and robbed of her money and passport, stranding her in South America.
6 6 "Episode 6" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 10 June 2013 (2013-06-10) 2.77
Freddie and Stuart are having a party to celebrate their 49th anniversary. Ash accidentally tells Stuart's mother Mildred (Hazel Douglas) about the party so Stuart decides that it is time he told her the truth about his relationship with Freddie.

† Overnight ratings only include live viewing figures at the time of broadcast plus recordings viewed on the same night (up to 2am). The other numbers in this column are consolidated viewing figures, which include all recordings up to a week after transmission. The overnight figure has been used when the programme does not rank in ITV's Top 30 consolidated ratings for that week.

Christmas Special (2013)[edit]

Total
no.
Series
no.
Title Director Writer Original air date Viewers
(millions)[8]
7 7 "Christmas Special" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 27 December 2013 (2013-12-27) 3.15
It's Christmas and Freddie and Stuart have invited the whole gang for a traditional Christmas dinner. The only problem is that Ash is cooking, Violet is bringing a new lover and Freddie has an incredibly demanding new acting gig.

Series 2 (2015)[edit]

Filming for the second series began on 21 December 2014 and concluded on 1 February 2015. Six episodes have been recorded and will be broadcast on ITV starting on 1 June 2015. The first episode of series 2 will guest star Celia Imrie and Georgia King.[10]

Total
no.
Series
no.
Title Director Writer Original air date Viewers
(millions)[8]
8 1 "Sister[11]" Gary Janetti 1 June 2015 (2015-06-01)
Violet panics when her wealthy sister Lillian (Celia Imrie) - whom she has not seen in years - announces a visit. Worried that Lillian will discover the truth about her circumstances, Violet and friends set in motion an elaborate plan to save her from humiliation. Meanwhile, Ash is keen to introduce the group to his new girlfriend, Jess - but he is in for a surprise.
9 2 "Gym[12]" Gary Janetti 8 June 2015 (2015-06-08)

Reception[edit]

Vicious was met with generally positive reviews from critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an 80% "Fresh" rating based on ten reviews which are all from American critics in 2014.

Keith Watson of Metro wrote a favourable review, calling Vicious "nostalgic fun".[13]

Christopher Stevens of the Daily Mail also wrote a favourable review, calling McKellen and Jacobi "the Steptoe & Son of the gay and Thespian community".[14]

Morgan Jeffery of Digital Spy wrote a mixed review, finding the show an "uncomfortable blend of coarse humour and '70s sitcom-style cosiness".[15] Describing the script as "lazy", he thought that the show couldn't "decide if it wants to be edgy and rude or traditional fun for all the family", but praised the "strong" cast, ultimately awarding the series two out of five stars.[15]

Kevin O'Sullivan of the Sunday Mirror called it a "horrible half-hour of 1970s-style net curtain cosiness" in a negative review of ITV's Monday night comedy offerings.[16] In a 29 April 2013 review in the Telegraph, Benjamin Secher claimed it is "the least funny new comedy in recent memory", giving it 1 out of 5 stars. He also wrote that "the script fell disastrously flat".[17] Writing in the London Evening Standard, Brian Sewell described the series as "a spiteful parody that could not have been nastier had it been devised and written by a malevolent and recriminatory heterosexual".[18]

DVD Release[edit]

The first series of Vicious was released on DVD in the UK on 20 November 2013 by 4DVD.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jeffery, Morgan (2012-11-05). "Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Derek Jacobi to star in ITV sitcom 'Vicious'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  2. ^ Deans, Jason (2012-11-05). "Sir Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi play gay couple in Vicious ITV comedy". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  3. ^ "Vicious - Production Details & Cast and Crew". British Comedy Guide. 2013-03-05. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  4. ^ "Vicious Series 1 (DVD) - Merchandise". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  5. ^ "Vicious - Series 1 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  6. ^ "'Vicious' renewed for second series by ITV, 'Job Lot' moving to ITV2". Digital Spy. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Vicious episode 101" (first ed.). 29 June 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c BARB Ratings
  9. ^ Digital Spy - Overnight ratings for Mon 20 May 2013
  10. ^ http://www.itv.com/presscentre/ep1week23/vicious
  11. ^ http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/vicious/episodes/2/1/
  12. ^ http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/vicious/episodes/2/2/
  13. ^ Watson, Keith (30 April 2013). "'Vicious' review: Vicious was nostalgic fun with Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi on top form". Metro. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  14. ^ Stevens, Christopher (29 April 2013). "'Vicious' review: Darlings, it's the Steptoe & Son of the gay and Thespian community". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  15. ^ a b Jeffery, Morgan (29 April 2013). "'Vicious' review: McKellen, Jacobi can't save ITV's tired, lazy sitcom". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  16. ^ The Mirror
  17. ^ Secher, Benjamin (29 April 2013). "Vicious (ITV): the least funny new comedy in recent memory, review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 
  18. ^ Sewell, Brian (2013-05-07). "Brian Sewell: Vicious is a throwback to far darker gay times". London Evening Standard, 7 May 2013. Retrieved from http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/brian-sewell-vicious-is-a-throwback-to-far-darker-gay-times-8606142.html.

External links[edit]