TV - Vicious

This December sees a Festive final fling for the delicious Vicious and ITV have released a set of short Q & A's with some of the cast...

This December on ITV, get ready to say a fond farewell to Freddie, Stuart, Violet and Ash as a brand new feature length Christmas special of Vicious airs on the channel. Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi, Frances de la Tour and Iwan Rheon will reprise their popular roles in ITV comedy Vicious for one final episode. The extended hour long special will welcome viewers back into the hectic world of newly married couple Freddie Thornhilll (Ian McKellen) and Stuart Bixby (Derek Jacobi) and their best friend Violet (Frances de la Tour). Also returning for the final hurrah are Ash (Iwan Rheon), Penelope (Marcia Warren) and Mason (Philip Voss). 

The special will be split into seasons as viewers follow Freddie and Stuart’s adventures from Spring and Summer, through to Autumn and Winter. Highlights include Freddie’s birthday, Violet deciding on a major ‘lifestyle’ change and Ash has some life changing news. Guest stars in the special are Frances Barber and Dame Eileen Atkins.

Here's the Q & A's

Ian McKellen

What can viewers expect to see in the feature length special?

I’ve recently been touring the UK in the theatre production No Man’s Land and everyone wanted to know if there would be more Vicious. Our end of term, end of series special will please friends of Stuart and Freddie, especially the very last scene of all!! This really is the end but don’t worry, all the characters are alive and well despite some separation. No spoilers from me though!

Will you miss the series?

One of the joys of Vicious has been meeting our studio audiences and working with one of the most talented sitcom casts ever.

Were you pleased with the public reaction to Vicious?

A recent revival of Are You Being Served? has shown how attitudes have advanced between now and then. There is no sniggering or double - entendre in Vicious. Audiences laugh with the characters, not at them. Gay characters are treated with as much respect as straight characters. The stories of quite old people struck a chord with their contemporaries who see their own lives and relationships in the series, regardless of sexuality and age.

Would you consider another sitcom?

I’m a newcomer to sitcom so I’ve learnt a lot from Frankie and Marcia with their remarkable experience in the genre. Another TV sitcom sometime? Someone get writing please!

Derek Jacobi

What can viewers expect to see in the feature length special?

Freddie and Stuart are still bickering with one another but the special has a great level of nostalgia and sadness. It’s like a parting of the ways, it all comes to a gentle conclusion. It’s also very funny, the humour in this is less raucous than other episodes, it’s a gentler humour.

Will viewers be happy with how it ends?

I hope so, I think it’s written cleverly that way so viewers get a good farewell. It’s not too final. I shall miss it very much, it’s something Ian and I had never done before and we both grew to love it. What was lovely about it was that each episode was so different. In series one we never left the house and in series two we did much more location shooting, I loved that added layer.

Do you have any series highlights?

I especially loved it when we all went dancing, clubbing and going to the gym! I’d had an injury when we filmed the gym scenes so I had to be extra careful with those scenes. The studio audience were so lovely to us all. Once we had a set change that was taking time so Ian and I did a Q&A session with the audience, they loved it. Ian and I found it difficult at first filming as we’re so used to the theatre but eventually we found our way and loved every minute.

Would you consider another TV sitcom?

You betcha! I loved it, yes I would. In the USA Last Tango in Halifax and Vicious were both on the same TV channel on the same night. At 8pm I was married to Anne Reid and at 9pm I was married to Ian McKellen – beat that!

Frances de la Tour

What can viewers expect to see in the feature length special?

Viewers are in for a treat, the hour long special is split in seasons so viewers see a ‘year in the life’ of these wonderful characters. Freddie has a birthday, darling Ash has big news and Violet decides to become a lesbian! Lots of surprises for the viewers throughout, the live studio audience loved it.

Do you have any series highlights?

So many to mention – working with such a very affectionate and clever cast has been a joy. I loved the scene in which Ian (Freddie) flicked through the Downton Abbey script to see how many lines he had.

The show and characters will be fondly remembered, are you pleased with what the show achieved?

Yes, especially as it was the first sitcom that a loving gay relationship (however, ‘vicious’ in their quips to one another) has been shown in the genre of popular television. And that the part of Violet especially was so three dimensional, also rare in a British sitcom. Part of the genius of it was having been written by a seasoned and brilliant American writer. The audiences loved it, they laughed and they were moved. It’s not for me to be proud of the show, though of course I am but I hope both Gary Janetti our writer and Gary Reich our producer are… in fact I know they are!

Iwan Rheon

What can viewers expect to see in the feature length special?

The viewers can expect to see four funny seasons in one, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Gary has written beautiful individual stories that all link up with loads of fun from the gang as well as real drama. It feels different to the other series.

Ash has some very touching emotional scenes with other characters, was that hard to film?

It was hard to keep it together filming those scenes. It was very sad because we knew that this was the end of the journey for us. This was it, very emotional. It’s great that we could go from comedy to drama so smoothly. It was truly wonderful to act in these scenes. It helps having a great script and some of the best actors going with you when you’re up there.

Do you think the fans will be happy with how it all ends?

I think there’s a sense that their world keeps moving and that we only get a snippet of their lives. Ash certainly has a happy ending with all the support given to him by his surrogate family which has made him able to take such a huge step. I think they will see each other again, we just might not be there to watch it.

What were your series highlights?

There are so many. I’ve been so fortunate to play Ash and be part of Vicious. Freddie’s audition springs to mind and it was lovely when Ash finally broke out of his shell by the end of series one. Sharing a flat with Stuart was also a lot of fun and waking up with Violet! I’ve enjoyed the more touching scenes also because these guys can do it all and it’s been a total privilege to have been involved.

Marcia Warren

What can viewers expect to see in the feature length special?

A very moving take on the situations our characters are in. All these loose ends get tied up but it’s surprisingly touching and poignant for a situation comedy.

Will you miss playing Penelope?

Absolutely, the character of Penelope was a joy to play and she had the best wardrobe out of all the characters. Acting with all those wonderful actors was delightful, three of the actors had played Lear on stage – you don’t get that very often in a TV comedy!

Does everyone get a happy ending?

I think so, I think the viewers will be happy at which point we say goodbye to the characters. It was such a family. I enjoyed it all so much, I hope the viewers miss it as much as we do.

What were your series highlights?

I remember Philip and I sitting in the green room waiting to go on stage during the first recording and the huge applause/laughter we could hear. It was astonishing, the audience loved these characters and the scripts straight away – we knew then we were doing something special. I’m also pleased the American audience also embraced Vicious, it played well over there.

What’s next for you?

I’ve been very lucky recently, after playing with my adorable Vicious family of actors I’ve had the pleasure of filming Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and the Absolutely Movie movie with dear Jo Lumley.

Philip Voss

What can viewers expect to see in the feature length special?

A fully rounded year long story with actors well accustomed to each others’ ways all at the top of their game.

Will you miss playing Mason?

Very much so. I thought of Mason as a complex man and I will miss rehearsing him. Soured by life, he’s the acidic leveller and realist. He’s gay but offended by gay excesses. Working so much with the great Marcia Warren was a sheer delight. Two rather lost desperate souls helping each other along their final moments together was wonderful to play.

Does everyone get a happy ending?

There’s always poor Violet to worry about but the boys will look after her. I think the writer has rounded off the characters beautifully and the emotional impact of Ash’s big news never fails to move me to tears.

What were your series highlights?

Filming the destruction of so many wedding cakes at the end of series two was great fun. The moments I will treasure include the line ‘I think you’re all fucking insane’ which exploded into the loudest laugh I’ve ever achieved. Also the long pause held with Sir Ian McKellen while remembering our Mother which I break with ‘she was a monster’…sublime and delicious.

Are you proud of what the series achieved?

Yes, I am very proud of it and people seem to like Mason. Not everyone approved of the series, but it covered important ground, gay marriage, ageism, loneliness and many funny lines, some of which I’ve already heard recycled on other TV shows! 

Vicious airs on ITV on December 16th at 9pm

Images - ITV