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I TALK Vicious

Following Broadchurch into the 9pm slot on a Monday night on ITV was never going to be easy.

Rather than filling the slot with another great drama, I'm thinking Ice Cream Girls, the channel have used what has become one of the most popular slots on its channel to introduce two new sitcoms; Vicious and The Job Lot, in a very similar way to BBC One who earlier on this year used the 9-10pm slot to air Miranda and Mrs Brown's Boys back-to-back.

It's a bold move and a bold statement for a channel whose comedy output of late hasn't really gone beyond Benidorm but if you read around you'll find that comedy is very much the direction in which the channel want to be heading, not losing their drama and entertainment of course.

The sitcom centres around the lives of Freddie and Stuart, played by Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, who are a gay couple who have been together for 48 years and live in a Covent Garden flat together.

When they first met, Freddie was a budding actor and Stuart was a barman. However it seems that their careers are more or less over, which means that they are constantly living in each other's pockets, hence the title Vicious, referring to their constant bickering.

The show isn't just about Freddie and Stuart though, there's also Violet, their young-at-heart friend played by Frances de la Tour who uses her experience in Rising Damp to put in a killer performance in Vicious. Violet, along with Freddie and Stuart take rather a shine to new neighbour Ash, played by Misfits actor Iwan Rheon, and pining for Ash's affections is a recurring theme throughout the series.

On paper, Vicious undoubtedly has one of the finest sitcom casts this country has ever seen, yet the big question is, does it transfer well on the screen? Well, I remember back to February 5th 2013, when I was invited along to ITV Studios to watch the first two episodes of Vicious, being filmed.

The very first thing I noticed was the set, which was very grand and theatrical. Not quite what I was expecting for an ITV sitcom. Nevertheless I was yet to see McKellen, Jacobi and de la Tour in anything that wasn't brilliant so I sat back and enjoyed what turned out to be a very long record.

Did it stop feeling like the theatre? If I'm honest, no, except for the scene in Episode Two where Stuart takes Freddie to buy a new coat and we see them step into a very obvious 21st century clothes shop that wouldn't look out of place in Absolutely Fabulous. However I soon got over the fact that this was very much like being at the theatre and watching a play because quite simply it wasn't and the more I watched, the more I laughed, so for me that's the sign of a good sitcom. So when you're watching Vicious and wondering whether or not the laughter you hear is genuine or canned, you have it from me that it was genuine.

Whilst many will refer to Vicious as the 'gay sitcom', Ian McKellen has said in many interviews that this is anything back and likens it more to some of the best family sitcoms of the past and the bickering between Freddie and Stuart is no different to the bickering a heterosexual couple do and the comedy comes from the characters themselves rather than the fact that they are gay, it just so happens that they are.

One thing's for sure, ITV are very pleased with it as they have commissioned a Christmas before the first series has even aired and you only need to flick over to ITV to see how often they're running the trails, a tactic they did recently with Plebs, which went on to be a ratings success so I have no doubt that this will rate very well.

Vicious airs Mondays at 9pm on ITV

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