TV preview: Vicious fun

Sir Ian McKellan and Sir Derek Jacobi. Picture: PA/ITV
Sir Ian McKellan and Sir Derek Jacobi. Picture: PA/ITV
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Of all the great sitcom ideas, the one about Gandalf and Claudius living together in a dilapidated north London flat, filling their every moment with a non-stop barrage of quips, jibes and put-downs took too long to get to our screens.

Vicious - STV, 9pm

Already it’s hard to believe that only a few weeks ago ITV’s first foray into sitcom territory for some time was regarded as a bit of a risky proposition. It was a bold decision to base a sitcom around a gay couple, particularly a pair in advanced years, considering TVs usually squeamish attitude to anybody over 40. Likewise there was a risk that a studio-based comedy, complete with a live audience, would seem old-fashioned in comparison to the darker, comedies that have dominated the schedules during the last decade.

The show turned out to be popular with critics and audiences alike, aided by the considerable star power of Ian McKellan and Derek Jacobi in the lead roles of Freddie and Stuart, not to mention the appeal of France De La Tour, playing an older, evil version of her much-loved alter ego, Miss Jones in Rising Damp.

For Jacobi, it’s the quality of writer Gary Janetti’s scripts that really provided the magic ingredient: “They are really special... a unique combination of reality, truth and gags, and the gags work so well because they’re based in reality”.

In tonight’s penultimate episode, the couple’s hapless upstairs neighbour Ash brings along his new girlfriend Chloe for dinner.

The People’s Coronation with David Dimbleby - BBC1, 9pm

Even the bad weather couldn’t dampen the patriotism at last year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, but it certainly wasn’t the first time the nation had gathered together to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.

The first big event of her reign was the Coronation in 1953, which not only saw the crowing of a new monarch but marked a big step in the British public’s relationship with the royal family. Against the wishes of some of the stuffier parts of the establishment, ordinary people were granted access to this centuries-old tradition via the relatively new medium of television, with half the population gathering around their sets to watch it.

The man responsible for presenting the landmark broadcast was Richard Dimbleby, and now his son David is telling the stories of some of the other people who took part in the celebrations.

The Gadget Show - Five, 7pm

In this new series, returning faces Jason Bradbury and Pollyanna Woodward, left, welcome Jon Bentley back to the programme.

Countdown’s Rachel Riley enjoys a change of scenery, as she tests noise-cancelling headphones at Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction, while Pollyanna checks out the Maverick flying car in Canada. Jon heads to Manchester to put three action cameras through their paces with the help of a British BMX team andDanny Dyer takes a look at movie-streaming services.

Food Unwrapped - Channel 4, 8.30pm

Jimmy Doherty joins Kate Quilton and Matt Tebutt for a second run of this programme. They will question what goes into mass-produced supermarket foods, and travel to find the answers. Jimmy is in the south of France, exploring cheese cellars where mould is grown specifically to be eaten. He sees exactly how mould takes hold of bread, and learns the difference between the kind that is safe to eat, and that which contains deadly toxins. Then it’s off to the Ukraine, to learn how Chicken Kievs are really made.