Tuesday, 30 April 2013

What’s this? Funny sitcoms on ITV?!

I had a curiously old-fashioned evening last night, watching sitcoms on ITV1 in real time.

They weren’t half bad either - considering ITV’s lamentable history with sitcoms.

Yes, the new shows, ‘Vicious’ and ‘The Job Lot’, were much better than ITV offerings of yesteryear, such as ‘On The Buses’ and ‘Love Thy Neighbour’.

First of the new shows, ‘Vicious’, has quality actors Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi playing two long-term, elderly lovers with a penchant for putting each other down and trading OTT insults.

Frances de la Tour – a sitcom star herself in ‘Rising Damp’ (one of only two good sitcoms ITV ever produced; the other was ‘Shelley’ starring Hywel Bennett) – plays something of a vamp in ‘Vicious’ and is a good foil to Jacobi and McKellen, the principal characters.

There were lots of sharp lines last night; including McKellen as a struggling actor bigging himself up by shouting: “And I got to murder a prostitute in Coronation Street!”

This elderly-flavoured and elegantly camp sitcom was followed by ‘The Job Lot’ – a brand new one set in a humdrum midlands JobCentre, and quite topical at this time of benefit reforms. Russell Tovey – and actor much-used by trendy BBC3 in recent years and famous for his bizarre sticky-out ears – is one of the lead characters.

But best character in ‘The Job Lot’ is the neurotic centre manager, played by Sarah Hadland, who has the unnerving habit of mentioning personal dysfunctions such as her “self-harming” and “night terrors” at inopportune moments.

All in all, good stuff from ITV1.

And these two sitcoms, watched back-to-back, certainly beat dull old Crimewatch on BBC1 in the same timeslot.

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