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Vicious; The Job Lot

Mon Apr 29, 9-10pm, ITV

Series one, episode one
When was the last time you laughed while watching ITV? In disbelief doesn’t count, by the way. Well, while we wouldn’t suggest your sides are in danger of splitting, this new sitcom double bill features one uproarious campfest and one promising misfire. You may well crack a smile…

First up at 9pm, ‘Vicious’: 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.

‘The Job Lot’ at 9.30pm is a gentler, more deadpan prospect from three first-time writers, following the travails of the employees and clients of a Midlands job centre. Sarah Hadland and Russell Tovey do their best in the leads, but it’s a familiar premise lacking in one-liners. It does show occasional promise, especially during one protracted sequence unravelling the absurd red tape apparently wrapped around the jobseeking process. But it’s good-natured and well performed, if light on laughs.


Curtis Tait

They have all the right ingredients, they just need another season to perfect it. British sitcoms often start of a little weak and then come into their own with time, none of our classics started of that way (black adder). They need to do something about the laughter, and when they do the actors mustn't impose themselves over it so as to say their next line... timing is everything and the silent pause to gather the thoughts is essential to any sitcom! In today's world where we are flooded with American sitcoms, it may not be a bad idea to bring one of their writers/directors in on the game. They add something that stops the set feeling like a stage, and instead the viewer feels as if they are in the characters' home. We used to be able to do this (only fools, fawlty towers, one foot in the grave) but we are now playing catch up. I hope this gets another season, and that the cast and crew can work out all the little kinks - but in the meantime watch the show as if its a play and you'll be able to enjoy these next few episodes. (4 Stars out of hope, 2 for execution)

Sue Ambrose

Vicious would be better named Embarrassing! What a complete waste of top notch talent. Sheer rubbish that didn't even raise a smile, never mind a chuckle!

Pauline Birch

I wanted to adore Vicious as Derek Jacobi and Ian Mckellen are possibly the best actors in the world. I enjoyed seeing them enjoy the opportunity to ham it up but I felt that the comedy was at times offensive,... ,,,,rape just isn't funny. However my real delight at watching these two extraordinary men "playing" cannot be denied. l