The UK is all over ITV’s Vicious. It’s become a comedy hit after some rough first-reviews by critics and fans. However it’s managed to pull ahead of the critiques and is gaining a landslide victory from ITV viewers. The comedy is gaining viewers every week and word of it spreads.
I never thought I’d ever write this, but ITV have produced a hit sit-com! Their last foray into that area was the awful Barbara with Gwen Taylor, which mercifully ended a decade ago.
This long gap is one hell of a black mark against a channel that has promoted itself as the brand leader in entertainment, yet has failed to deliver anything in traditional scripted comedy (and I count Benidorm more as comedy/drama rather than a sitcom, and of course it’s made on location without an audience).
It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so, as with the BBC’s great Monday night double-header of Miranda and Mrs Brown’s Boys, we now have ITV aping the same format in the identical timeslot!
ITV’s fifth-rate comedy shows have been rubbish for over 30 years, but that lamentable record dramatically came to an end with Vicious. There’s quite some irony here, as one of the stars is Frances de La Tour, who was in the last great ITV sit-com (and perhaps their best ever), Rising Damp. It’s fun to see her supporting Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi in a hilarious half-hour, as they play an elderly gay couple with a wonderful patter in exchanging barbed comments.
Things get more interesting for their characters of Freddie and Stuart, when a young guy moves into the building, and the laughs continue. It’s a treat to watch two of our knighted actors doing TV comedy, with a script that delivers. A Christmas special was ordered months ago, and a second series is a mere formality. And there I was, thinking that I’d have to wait until the end of the year to get my next load of belly laughs with the return of Mrs Brown!
The second bit of ITV’s comedy hour was an “Office”-style show, called The Job Lot, recorded on location. Set in a Midland job centre, there are some interesting characters with top performers like Russell Tovey, and it’s also something of a game-changer for ITV like Vicious before it. My only criticism is that the two shows should have been screened the other way round, as the gentler and very different style of The Job Lot seemed sedate after the antics that preceded it, and that would be an unfair judgement on a good programme.
So my congratulations to ITV, who forced a cheeky bit of competition from BBC2, with a rare Monday night comedy profile!
Are you a Vicious comedy fan? Have you seen it at all yet? Do you plan to? Do you prefer comedy dramas or crime dramas? I like them both, and it depends on my mood which I like at any given moment. Tell us which you prefer and why.