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It’s an un­der­state­ment to say we’re fans of Vi­cious. The ITV sit­com about an older gay cou­ple first ap­peared in 2013 and – of course – di­vided opin­ion in the gay com­mu­nity long be­fore Cu­cum­ber hit our screens.

And now it’s back, right­fully so and as un­apolo­get­i­cally mean as ever. Not that the stel­lar cast are any­thing like their on-screen coun­ter­parts.

We’re sat with Sirs Ian McKellen and Derek Ja­cobi, theatre leg­end Frances de la Tour and Game of Thrones bad boy Iwan Rheon, hav­ing sand­wiches with a view of the Thames – and they couldn’t be nicer.

Which kind of scup­pers our line of ques­tion­ing about be­ing vi­cious… A de­bate breaks out as to what is vi­cious­ness and what is anger – high­lighted by a story that Frances, in her usual won­der­ful de­liv­ery, re­counts about be­ing chased down the road by a News of the World jour­nal­ist who was ac­cus­ing her of hav­ing an af­fair.

“I was vi­ciously tough with them,” she re­calls, “but I don’t ac­tu­ally think it was vi­cious. I think that’d be to be de­lib­er­ately de­struc­tive to some­body, don’t you?”

Ian con­cedes. “The trou­ble about be­ing vi­cious to some­one’s face is that it’s a wound that can re­ally hurt.”

“And for life,” Frances adds.

“And that’s part of the point of be­ing vi­cious,” Ian points out. “You want it to hurt.”

He thinks about it some more. “I throw things at the tele­vi­sion when I see peo­ple parad­ing their prej­u­dices, what­ever they hap­pen to be. I long to have a lash­ing tongue that could si­lence them for­ever more.”

Frances con­sid­ers this. “That’s anger. That’s not vi­cious­ness.”

We ask if they’d read any of the re­views for se­ries one. They’re quick to point out that they didn’t.

“I was told very early on,” Iwan says, “by an amaz­ing actress – it was my first job – ‘don’t ever read re­views, they’re not for you.’ Which I’ve held to this day.”

In fact, Ian’s the only one of the quar­tet who does read what the crit­ics think.

“I was up­set when some­one wrote that th­ese shows were ho­mo­pho­bic. It was a straight per­son who said it. You’ve got it ab­so­lutely wrong – as if Derek and I or th­ese two would put their names and their tal­ent to any­thing that was. So you worry then, why did they think that?”

“It was vi­cious of them to say that,” Frances notes.

“I thought, ‘Oh they’ve ab­so­lutely got it wrong’,” Ian con­tin­ues, “and then an­other friend said, ‘Oh Vi­cious puts tele­vi­sion back 50 years’ – and then they laughed be­cause they were think­ing about I Love Lucy, that

DAR­REN SCOTT

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