Vicious and The Job Lot start tonight and sees ITV unleash a combination that sees them offer two completely different styles of comedy back to back. That the channel has the confidence to pull off a comedy hour in such a fashion might be the most telling thing after all.
Vicious brings us a televisual prospect we just couldn’t miss out on in the form of Sir Ian McKellen Sir Derek Jacobi trading barbs as an old couple.
While the show might be resolutely old-school in its construction, with the show filmed on stage in front of a live audience, the focus of the show is something truly unique. Never on UK comedy have we seen a mainstream comedy focussed exclusively on a gay couple. Not only that, but it’s a couple with a combined age well into the three figures, something that is usually avoided at all costs in the world of TV.
Few comedies in the world though can claim to have a leading duo with half the talent, charisma and charm as Vicious does in the form of McKellen and Jacobi, who work wonderfully together and bounce off of each other as if they’ve been a double act for years.
Whilst it might be as retro as Mrs Brown’s Boys, this has something the Irish comedy simply doesn’t have. Charm. It might have both McKellen and Jacobi hamming it up in their most thespian ways, the show never feels old and tired in the same way that Mrs Browns Boys does almost constantly. This is nostalgic, without being a total throwback.
The Job Lot though sees the channel screeching through the comedy timeline to the present day, with a single camera, almost mockumentary style that draws more on The Office and Parks and Recreation than the show preceding it on the night. While it might not be quite to the same level as those two, it shows that ITV is doing its absolute best to avoid becoming a one-trick pony.
The channel has become a major player in the drama world over the last couple of years with shows like Downton Abbey, Mrs Biggs and Broadchurch, but this is the first time the channel really has tried to compete on the same playing field as the BBC and market leader Channel when it comes to comedy.
Think back to 2009 when the channel was at its lowest and the difference is almost unbelievable. Without Simon Cowell and it’s two soap operas, the channel would have had nothing. Now, the rebirth of ITV from laughing stock to leader of the pack has taken another big step to becoming a reality. We never thought I’d be saying that and it’s time for Channel 4 and the BBC to step up to the plate and show their qualities.
We can’t wait to see what new heights they might push each other, can you? Let us know in the comments section.