Upcoming British Sitcom ‘Vicious’ to Star Ian McKellen & Derek Jacobi

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 9th, 2013 at 2:02 pm,

Vicious Ian McKellen Derek Jacobi Upcoming British Sitcom Vicious to Star Ian McKellen & Derek Jacobi

The “homosexual sitcom” has become something of a subgenre in the last decade-and-a-half. With shows like Will and Grace, The New Normal, Glee, and Modern Family normalizing depictions of homosexuality on television, the furor over Ellen Degeneres coming out of the closet seems ever further away.

British television has embraced this new paradigm with a totality that perhaps goes beyond American programming. Nonetheless, there are always new frontiers to explore. In an interesting move, British network ITV has begun production on Vicious, a sitcom revolving around a bitter homosexual couple slouching their way into their golden years. In a massive coup, ITV has managed to cast two of Britain’s greatest thespians in the main roles: Sirs Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi.

Variety reports that ITV has signed Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi to headline the upcoming comedy Vicious. The series will be penned by former Family Guy writer-producer Gary Janetti, who previously helped head Will and Grace. The show will be overseen by producer Ed Bye and will also star Frances De La Tour (Madame Maxine of the Harry Potter series).

Originally titled Vicious Old Queens, the show will concern a homosexual couple who have lived together in London for 50 years. Long since retired, the duo have taken to a life of boring hobbies and petty arguments. Just when it seems that the two have finally had enough of each other, the arrival of a young man to their apartment building upsets the established routine of their lives.

The star power of the attached leads is undeniable. Ian McKellen barely needs any introduction – a distinguished veteran of British theater, he went on to become a cult figure with his star-making turns in The Lord of the Rings and X-Men. Though his career has not been quite as flashy as McKellen’s, Derek Jacobi is every bit as accomplished. He was a protégé of Laurence Olivier and has enjoyed a long, varied career in film and television. Readers may recognize him from The King’s Speech, Gladiatorand Doctor Who. Both McKellen and Jacobi have been knighted for their contributions to British drama.

Ian McKellen Vicious Gandalf Upcoming British Sitcom Vicious to Star Ian McKellen & Derek Jacobi

The overwhelming bona fides of both McKellen and Jacobi are only part of why their casting is such a boon for Vicious. Their own personal experiences will no doubt color their performances – both men are openly gay and have lived with longtime partners for some years. McKellen in particular has been a vocal proponent for LGBT rights and has been recognized by British gay advocacy groups.

Of course, this all leads up to what may be the most important point of all: These are two very serious dramatic actors who are no doubt about to play spectacularly against type. Granted, Ian McKellen has been known to lightly lampoon his previous accomplishments (his hosting appearance on Saturday Night Live riffed wonderfully on his Gandalf and Magneto roles), but neither he or Jacobi are known for outright comedic performances.

This raises the question as to whether the duo will be able to shift gears for a full-on screwball comedy – and also as to what kind of comedy Vicious will end up being. One imagines that the show will have to walk a fairly narrow path to avoid being either too dry or falling the other direction into ridiculous camp. It’s certainly one to watch develop – if only for the potential of its dynamite leading cast.

Though Vicious does not yet have a firm release date, it is expected to air late in 2013.

Sources: Variety

TAGS: Vicious
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  1. ITV aren’t really known for good comedy, but this does sound like it has the potential to be very, very good.

    • Agreed, if this was being produced by the BBC or Channel 4 then I’d have a bit more confidence, although McKellens role in Coronation Street (50 year old British soap) a few years back was a highlight and that show is equally funny and touching, will keep an eye out for this

    • this is well worth a watch and its aired 29/4/2013 itv 21:00

  2. Sounds like an edgier version of the Odd Couple. McKellen and Jacobi gives it a lot of automatic credibility though, even though Sir Ian really won’t be acting.

  3. The first recording of Vicious was at ITV studios this evening. Any doubt about the comedic skills of the leading actors was fast put aside, as the entire cast had us laughing off of our seats. As expected with talent so accomplished, there were few out-takes, and those that were replayed still had us all cheering.
    If anyone wants a 2013 edition of The Golden Girls type humour, this is a must see.
    This is an amazing production, beautifully written, brilliantly cast and superbly acted. I really look forward to it being aired this spring. (2013)

  4. It’s terrible. Old fashioned and no where near cleaver enough. Studio audience members were walking out. It was reduced to the last scene being filmed line by line because everyone kept forgetting everything. Such a shame and what a waste of a great opportunity

  5. I was at the recording of the third episode 5 days ago. Nobody walked out, everybody laughed. There’s a scene where Ian McKellen’s character is rehearsing for a Downton Abbey audition and it was hilarious. Glad to have been there, looking forward to seeing it on TV. They expect it to be aired in April.
    BTW: I didn’t see the cleaver either, but I assume it’s in the kitchen at the right side of the set.

  6. Doubt over comedic performances? Did NO ONE see Derek Jacobi in Frasier? He was hilarious!

  7. we went last night we could not stop laughing we saw clips of prevous shows before hand and then they filmed the last program was just like 70s comedy all over again there was not a spare seat left in the studio i saw no one leave every one i spoke to seemed to enjoy it i hope it all goes well for them we need a good comedy like this to replace some of the rubbish thats on the box at the moment derek and joanne

  8. Much the same views as others who went to recordings of this. I found it to be very amusing and well written and think that it could be a big hit. The outtakes alone would be worth buying the DVD for as the two leads were almost as acerbic when they mucked up as the script asked them to be for the show!

  9. Just watched Viscious. Was so looking forward to this. Such wonderful actors. The whole thing was totally spoilt by the awful canned laughter!!
    A good comedy with good actors in it does not need this. Please remove it and allow US to laugh at home.

    • Vicious was filmed with a live studio audience. Several people who commented here were present.

  10. Everyone’s entitled to that we take into account.

  11. bring back this series it was supervly acted by all and the only thing that it lacked was a LIVE audience …this factor alone will make it a big hit

    I asure you


  12. Stereotype or not – Great fun – it’s nice to laugh with so much vioulence in the world -thank you!

    Is the “young” lady with the red hair the same wonderful actress from “As Time Goes By”