The ITV comedy starred Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi and gay partners Stuart and Freddie who had been together for nearly 50 years. The comedy revolved around the insults the couple would throw at each other and towards best friend Violet (Frances de la Tour) and neighbour Ash (Iwan Rheon).
The comedy was bashed by critics who attacked it for clichéd characterisations and a 1970s style approach to sitcoms. It was unfavourably compared to Are You Being Served? and other camp classics of the time. However, television presenter Evan Davis – who is openly gay – has defended Vicious during an interview with the Radio Times.
The Dragon’s Den/Today programme presenter told the Radio Times “I believe Vicious was treated overly harshly by the critics. We enjoyed it and I don’t think gay people mind some of the clichéd characterisations – they are enlightening to viewers without being scary…..It’s useful to normalise the promotion of gay relationships, inasmuch as you ever get a normal relationship in comedy.”
ATV Today critic Queenie Le Trout was one of the few to praise the comedy. Queenie says “Vicious made me laugh out loud from start to finish. It had a superb cast with lots of brilliant one-liners and sarky comments. I loved every minute of it and I am not ashamed to say that out-loud. Who gives a fig what critics think? Television is for viewers not for critics”.
It’s worth pointing out that the critics were similarly unimpressed by BBC One comedy Mrs Brown’s Boys with similar accusations of cliched characterisations and a outdated 1970s feel to the series. However, despite the disapproval of the critics Mrs Brown’s Boys has been a huge hit for BBC One with ratings for the third series soaring past 10 million viewers.
Vicious will return for a Christmas Special on ITV later this year. A second series has yet to be commissioned.