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 + 1 Christmas special + 1 Final special
No. of episodes 14 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Jane Featherstone
Gary Janetti
Producer(s) Gary Reich
Location(s) The London Studios
Editor(s) Chris Wadsworth
Mark Wybourne
Running time 30 minutes (inc. adverts)
Production company(s) Brown Eyed Boy and Kudos Productions
Release
Original network ITV
Picture format 16:9 (1080i HDTV)
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1
Original release 29 April 2013 (2013-04-29) – 16 December 2016 (2016-12-16)

Vicious is a British television 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] with 5.78 million viewers.

On 14 May 2016, McKellen and Jacobi appeared as Freddie and Stuart during the Eurovision Song Contest where they are seen watching the contest.

In 2016, the show was cancelled by ITV and a finale special aired on 16 December 2016.

Series overview[edit]

Vicious is set around the lives of ageing partners Freddie and Stuart, who have lived together in their Covent Garden flat for 48 years. Freddie was a struggling actor and Stuart worked in a bar when they first met, but their careers are over and their lives now consist of entertaining their frequent guests, making sure that their aged dog Balthazar is still breathing, and hurling antagonising comments towards each other.

Cast and characters[edit]

(back row), Violet (Frances de la Tour), Ash (Iwan Rheon), Mason (Philip Voss), (front row) Freddie (Ian McKellen), Stuart (Derek Jacobi), and Penelope (Marcia Warren)
  • Ian McKellen as Freddie Thornhill. Freddie has been the partner of Stuart for 48 years at the time the first series begins, and the pair's relationship is that of a love/hate relationship. Originally from Wigan, Freddie is an actor on stage, television, and radio. He briefly has a role on Downton Abbey as "Cook Staff #4" and is then offered a role on Call the Midwife. He comes to establish a father-son relationship with Ash as the series progresses. He and Stuart get married after five decades of being together in the Series 2 finale, despite briefly breaking up after Freddie lies about getting an acting job that they desperately need for the money. In the Finale special, Freddie reveals his vulnerable side when Ash leaves to go on a university scholarship in New York.
  • Derek Jacobi as Stuart Bixby. Stuart has been together with Freddie for 48 years when the series begins, and they have a love/hate relationship. Originally from Leytonstone, Stuart was a manager at a bar, but he gave it up at an unspecified point in his life. Stuart was initially attracted to the much younger Ash upon meeting him, but soon Stuart, along with Freddie, assumes the role of a surrogate "grandfather" to Ash. He and Freddie marry in the Series 2 finale, having now been with Freddie for over 50 years. However, they very nearly broke up for good after Freddie lied about getting an acting job, the money from which they needed to pay for the wedding. Stuart's mother Mildred dies at the wedding, leaving Stuart distraught.
  • Frances de la Tour as Violet Crosby. Violet has been friends with Freddie and Stuart for many years. While sometimes being coarse or aggressive to Violet, Freddie and Stuart do actually care for her well-being, which shows when Violet journeys to Argentina to meet her internet boyfriend Ignacio, who ends up fleecing her. Violet is rather promiscuous, and when she first meets Freddie and Stuart's upstairs neighbour Ash, she becomes attracted to him. Violet is married to a low-life named Jasper in Series 2, and she hasn't seen him in months. Violet gives up on her marriage after speaking with Jasper's six ex-wives, and they divorce after he makes a scene at Freddie and Stuart's wedding. Violet briefly becomes a lesbian in the Finale special.
  • Iwan Rheon as Ash Weston. When Ash first moves into the apartment above Freddie and Stuart's, he introduces himself to them, and over time, Ash becomes integrated into Freddie and Stuart's circle, and becomes the subject of the affections of Violet, Freddie and Stuart's close friend. Like Freddie, Ash is from Wigan. Ash is shown to be troubled at times, as he has said that both his parents are in prison and he frequently wakes up screaming in the night. As such, Freddie and Stuart come to serve as role models for Ash. Ash tries proposing to his girlfriend Jess in Series 2, only to be turned down because she doesn't love him. He subsequently serves as Freddie's best man when he and Stuart get married. In the Finale special, Ash is offered a scholarship for a university in New York on a four year grant, and reluctantly accepts it, saying goodbye to Freddie and Stuart.
  • Marcia Warren as Penelope. Penelope has been friends with Freddie and Stuart for many years, and Penelope once had a one-night stand with Stuart before the latter realised his true sexuality. Penelope appears to be senile, forgetting the most basic things such as where she is or why she is there. However, she appears to be a very deep thinker, and just like her friends, comes to accept Ash with open arms. Penelope is perhaps closest to Mason, whom in her senility, once mistook him for her long-dead husband, Robert.
  • Philip Voss as Mason Thornhill. Mason is Freddie's brother, though this isn't revealed until late into Series 2, primarily because their relationship is toxic. Mason can be just as acid-tongued as his brother, sometimes more so. Despite being gay himself, Mason expresses disgust at Freddie and Stuart's relationship, and rarely shows compassion for anyone or anything. One exception, however, would have to be Penelope, whom he is quite close to and quite fond of.

Guest cast[edit]

Series 1
  • Alexandra Roach as Chloe. Chloe is introduced as the vegan girlfriend of Ash, and is also shown to be "quirky". Despite her seemingly squeaky clean relationship with Ash, the cracks begin to show at a dinner party held by Ash's neighbours Freddie and Stuart, as she continually witnesses Freddie and Stuart and becomes increasingly drunk. Eventually, she mouths off at Freddie, who is defended by Stuart, who then orders Chloe to leave. She and Ash later break up.
  • Hazel Douglas as Mildred. Mildred is the mother of Stuart, who frequently chats to her on the phone, not out of choice, but out of necessity. She has no idea of Stuart's relationship with Freddie, despite the fact that they have lived together for nearly 50 years, and not only that, she is constantly vying for grandchildren from Stuart. Eventually, when Stuart's upstairs neighbour Ash accidentally invites Mildred to Freddie and Stuart's anniversary party, Stuart chooses to come out to her, causing her to collapse. She thankfully recovers, and accepts Freddie and Stuart's relationship.
Series 2
  • Georgia King as Jess. Jess is Ash's new girlfriend, and while Ash tries to introduce her to his surrogate family, the introduction turns weird as everyone appears to be playing a part. After the whole facade is dropped, Ash introduces Jess officially to his father-figure Freddie and his partner Stuart, and their friends Violet, Penelope, and Mason. Jess settles well into Ash's circle, and when they go to ballroom dancing classes, the whole group tags along. Freddie gives Ash his mother's wedding ring to propose to Jess with. However, Jess turns Ash down because she doesn't love him. Freddie later uses the same ring to propose to Stuart.
  • Celia Imrie as Lilian. Lilian is Violet's wealthy sister, and they do not share a good relationship because Lilian constantly looks down upon Violet. Violet lies to Lilian that she too has become rich after marrying Jasper. In reality, Violet and Jasper are estranged. Violet's good friends come together when Lilian drops by to spend time with her, with Stuart playing Jasper, and Stuart's partner Freddie playing a butler. The plan is very nearly ruined when Violet, Stuart, and Freddie's friend Ash comes for a visit with his girlfriend Jess, but they pass Ash off as "Jasper"'s son from a previous marriage. Lilian confesses to Violet that her husband is actually dead and that she is flat broke. A hypocritical Violet then orders Lilian to leave, and as such, Lilian never discovers Violet's true circumstances.
  • Jack Ashton as Theo. Theo is an instructor at Ash's local gym, who attempts to con money out of Ash's parent figures Freddie and Stuart in exchange for grueling fitness classes. Theo and his own boyfriend get close to Freddie and Stuart, until Ash warns Theo to leave them alone by threatening to tell people that Theo is five years older than he says he is. After this, Theo stays away from Freddie and Stuart.
  • Alexandra Roach as Chloe. Chloe is Ash's ex-girlfriend, first introduced in Series 1, who returns as Freddie and Stuart's wedding planner. Chloe appears to have her alcoholism and hypertension under control now, but becomes stressed when Stuart keeps putting her under pressure by coming with grander and costlier ideas for the wedding, even if it meant Chloe paying the happy couple money, and not vice-versa. Freddie and Stuart unexpectedly break up at their joint stag-do, much to Chloe's relief.
  • Samuel Barnett as Young Stuart. When Stuart reminisces about when he and Freddie first moved into their apartment, the reason behind their unique relationship is revealed, as Stuart is shown to apparently be a bad tea-maker. They have their first argument, spitting insults at each other, after which they promise to never do so again, a promise which is quickly broken.
  • Luke Treadaway as Young Freddie. When Stuart reminisces about when he and Freddie first moved into their apartment, the reason behind their unique relationship is revealed, as Freddie is shown to be a pushover. After the couple spout insults at each other during their first argument, they pledge to never do so ever again, but this breaks down as soon as it is made.
  • Michael Cochrane as Jasper. Jasper is the low-life new husband of Violet. Jasper hasn't been seen by Violet for months, during which time Violet gives up on their marriage after speaking to Jasper's six ex-wives. Jasper soon reappears, and is shown to be using Violet as a cash machine and punching bag. At the wedding of Violet's friends, Freddie and Stuart, Jasper oversteps the mark, and gets punched by their other friend Ash. Jasper and Violet later get divorced.
  • Joan Linder as Mildred. Mildred is Stuart's mother, last seen in Series 1. While initially uncomfortable with the idea of a wedding between two men, Mildred resolves to see her son married, but tragically dies while receiving a hug from Stuart's friend Ash. With the help of Ash, and Stuart's other friends Mason and Penelope, they create the impression that Mildred is still alive until after the ceremony, where they pass off her death as having happened after the ceremony, so as to not break Stuart's heart as he was dead-set on his mother seeing him walk down the aisle. Stuart breaks down in Freddie's arms at home after briefly forgetting that Mildred is dead. In the series finale, it is revealed that Mildred left inheritance in her will for Stuart.
  • Frances Barber as Carlotta. After Violet becomes a lesbian in the Finale special, Carlotta is introduced as her new girlfriend. Carlotta appears to be more "involved" in the relationship than Violet, and is very raunchy with her. Eventually, Violet finds a way to wriggle out of Carlotta's hold, and returns to her prior life as a promiscuous heterosexual.
  • Alistair Brammer as Oliver. After Freddie and Stuart's upstairs neighbour Ash leaves for America in the Finale special, Oliver moves into Ash's old flat. He appears to be a more uptight copy of Ash, as he suddenly becomes the subject of the affections of Violet, who previously was attracted to Ash.
  • Richard Gadd as Delivery Man. In the finale special, this delivery man makes numerous visits to Freddie and Stuart's apartment over a whole year to deliver packages to them.

Episodes[edit]

Series 1 (2013)[edit]

Total
no.
Series
no.
Title Director Writer Original air date Viewers
(millions)[4]
1 1 "Wake" 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 "Shopping" 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 "Audition" 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 "Clubbing" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 20 May 2013 (2013-05-20) 2.55 (overnight†)[5]
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 "Dinner Party" 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 "Anniversary" 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. Freddie meanwhile attempts to invite Judi Dench, whom he worked with in a commercial 40 years ago.

Christmas Special (2013)[edit]

Total
no.
Series
no.
Title Director Writer Original air date Viewers
(millions)[4]
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 (as Father Christmas).

Series 2 (2015)[edit]

Total
no.
Series
no.
Title Director Writer Original air date Viewers
(millions)[4]
8 1 "Sister" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 1 June 2015 (2015-06-01) 3.00
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 (Georgia King), but he is in for a surprise.
9 2 "Gym" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 8 June 2015 (2015-06-08) 2.40
Feeling unfit, Freddie and Stuart join Ash at his gym, where a young fitness instructor persuades the pair to sign up for an expensive membership. With Freddie and Stuart spending so much time at the gym, Violet and Penelope discover how pleasant their flat can be without the bickering pair in it.
10 3 "Ballroom" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 15 June 2015 (2015-06-15) 2.38
The gang decides to join Ash and Jess (Georgia King) at a ballroom dancing class. Nimble on his feet, Stuart quickly becomes teacher's pet, leaving Freddie in a huff, while Violet becomes a hit with the amorous teacher in other ways.
11 4 "Stag Do" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 22 June 2015 (2015-06-22) 2.25
Finding themselves both single, Violet and Ash consider dating new people, Violet has already met someone on the internet, while Ash's ex, Chloe (Alexandra Roach), returns. Freddie, meanwhile, feels under pressure from Stuart to land a new acting role.
12 5 "Flatmates" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 29 June 2015 (2015-06-29) 2.17
After Freddie and Stuart have a falling out, Stuart moves in with Ash and Violet moves in with Freddie.
13 6 "Wedding" Ed Bye Gary Janetti 6 July 2015 (2015-07-06) 2.06 (overnight†)[6]
Freddie and Stuart's wedding day arrives, but Mason and Penelope have problems getting the cake, Violet's wayward husband Jasper finally turns up to cause trouble and Stuart's mum Mildred dies at the wedding ceremony.

Special (2016)[edit]

A one-off special, and was the show's final episode. It aired 19 June 2016 in the US, and 16 December 2016 in the UK. [7]

Total
no.
Series
no.
Title Director Writer Original air date Viewers
(millions)
14 7 "A Year" Ben Kellett Gary Janetti 16 December 2016 (2016-12-16) N/A
In spring, Freddie and Stuart attempt to hide their recently gained inheritance, which they got in Mildred's will. Violet has financial troubles after her recent divorce and Ash struggles to meet his rent. Signs of Freddie and Stuart’s expenditure soon threaten the pretence as their home is overrun with guests. In summer, it's Freddie's birthday party and an unexpected card arrives. Stuart prepares a very special present, Violet has a surprising announcement, and Ash and Penelope share a secret. In autumn, Ash arrives at Freddie and Stuart's flat with news that he is going to attend university in America, whilst in winter the gang gather round at Christmas to experience Freddie’s latest acting job.

Broadcast[edit]

Vicious 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.[8][9] On 23 August 2013, it was confirmed that Vicious had been renewed for a second series, which began airing on 1 June 2015 and concluded on 6 July 2015.[10]

Starting in late June 2014, the first series began airing in the United States on various PBS stations.[11]

It was confirmed in December 2015 that the series would be ending in 2016 with a Final Special. The special was filmed at The London Studios on the 22nd and 23 December 2015.[citation needed]

On June 19, 2016, the Finale Special was aired in the United States on PBS and six months later on 16 December 2016 in the UK.[12]

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]

The series was twice nominated for the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series while the finale was nominated for Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series.[19]

DVD release[edit]

The first series of Vicious was released on DVD in the UK on 20 November 2013 by 4DVD. The second series was released on 13 July 2015. Neither release contains the 2013 Christmas special which remains unreleased on DVD in the UK so far (though it is available on the North American release).

See also[edit]

The Birdcage (1996 film)

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007 film)

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. ^ a b "Vicious - Production Details & Cast and Crew". British Comedy Guide. 2013-03-05. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  4. ^ a b c BARB Ratings
  5. ^ Digital Spy - Overnight ratings for Mon 20 May 2013
  6. ^ Overnight ratings for Mon 6 July 2015
  7. ^ "Vicious to return for new special". British Comedy Guide. December 18, 2015. Retrieved July 9, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Vicious Series 1 (DVD) - Merchandise". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  9. ^ "Vicious - Series 1 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  10. ^ "'Vicious' renewed for second series by ITV, 'Job Lot' moving to ITV2". Digital Spy. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "Vicious episode 101" (first ed.). 29 June 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  12. ^ "Vicious". Vicious. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  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.
  19. ^ "GLAAD Media Award Nominees Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. January 31, 2017. Retrieved April 3, 2017. 

External links[edit]