I Realise Vicious Is Marmite Television; Sir Derek Jacobi Tells JEANANNE CRAIG He Knows the Sitcom He Stars in Alongside Lifelong Pal Sir Ian McKellen Splits Opinion, but He Loves It Anyway

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), May 30, 2015 | Go to article overview

I Realise Vicious Is Marmite Television; Sir Derek Jacobi Tells JEANANNE CRAIG He Knows the Sitcom He Stars in Alongside Lifelong Pal Sir Ian McKellen Splits Opinion, but He Loves It Anyway


Byline: Ian McKellen

PICK OF THE WEEK VICIOUS (ITV, Monday, 9pm) AS friends for more than half a century, playing long-term partners on screen isn't much of a stretch for Sir Derek Jacobi and Sir Ian McKellen.

The veteran actors met as students at Cambridge - where Lord Of The Rings star McKellen had an "undeclared and unrequited" crush on his pal - but had only worked together a couple of times before ITV sitcom Vicious came along in 2013.

The pair play sweet-natured Stuart (Jacobi) and acid-tongued jobbing actor Freddie (McKellen), who have been in a relationship for the past five decades, despite constant bickering.

"Vicious has been really wonderful, it's kind of neatly bookended the career," says Sir Derek, 76, who is reprising his role for an equally acerbic, six-part second series.

As Ian has said, 'Despite Freddie's constant barbed comments (a YouTube compilation lists some of the best lines, from, "You look smart, I see you're wearing an extra chin for the occasion", it's farce, it's kind of beyond comedic, it's unreal to, "What crime against nature will you be serving this evening?" at dinner time), the relationship is a loving one.

In fact, Jacobi reckons that former barman Stuart rather likes his partner's jibes.

"I think the cruelty indicator is still registering quite high this series," says the acclaimed stage and screen actor, who also stars in much-loved BBC One drama Last Tango In Halifax. "Stuart does give it back. He should give it back more..."

The show, which is filmed in front of a live studio audience, also features a stellar supporting cast, with Stuart and Freddie's close friend Violet (played by Rising Damp's Frances de la Tour), hunky neighbour Ash (Game Of Thrones star Iwan Rheon), and ditzy Penelope (Marcia Warren).

This series, it's all change among the couple's pals, with Violet married to a mystery man who now seems to have disappeared and Ash enjoying a new romance with Jess (Georgia King). There's also a spot of dancing, a trip to the gym, and the group's first taste of sushi.

"We go to ballroom classes, and I turn out to be an ace dancer," Sir Derek reveals with a smile. "They talk about me being a very good waltzer, and I do a very good tango - Frances and I do a tango together."

This time around, episodes begin away from Stuart and Freddie's rather cramped flat.

"It takes the pressure off the actual night of recording, and I like the idea that the characters live in the real world," says the London-born knight.

Episode one sees a guest appearance from Celia Imrie as Violet's sister Lillian. …

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