Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi are two of the most esteemed British actors of stage and screen. Theirs are the careers that young thespians aspire to. Between them they have played Hamlet, Macbeth, Lear, Uncle Vanya, Cyrano, Alan Turing, Magneto, Claudius and Gandalf. They have played just about every great role we can think of, and now that they’re in their 70s, what is left for them to do? Well, they can play two flamboyant old queens who have carried on a love-hate relationship for 50 years.
It seems disrespectful to refer to these esteemed thespians and LGBT rights campaigners as queens, but that is exactly what makes Vicious entertaining. The audience is urged to disrespect these icons. Jacobi plays Stuart Bixby, who used to manage a bar, and McKellen plays Freddie Thornhill, an infrequently-employed actor, on the British sitcom Vicious. The ITV series created by Mark Ravenhill and Gary Janetti, and directed by Ed Bye, is unrepentantly retro—its theme song is the cover of “Never Can Say Goodbye” by The Communards (If you can remember The Communards, go slather on some moisturizer).
Read our review of Vicious in our TV column The Binge, tomorrow at BusinessWorld.