Sirs Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, veteran theatrical knights, will star in a new ITV1 comedy as a gay couple who have lived in the same Covent Garden flat for 50 years.
Vicious, written and created by Will & Grace writer Gary Janetti and award-winning playwright Mark Ravenhill, will be broadcast next year.
Rising Damp star Frances De La Tour will also star as the best friend of Freddie (McKellen), an ageing actor, and Stuart (Jacobi), a retired barman. She will intervene when trouble is caused by the arrival of a young man, Ash, who lives upstairs.
Janetti, who has also written for the award-winning cartoon Family Guy, said: "I'm incredibly excited to be working with ITV and this unbelievable cast."
It is still quite rare for mainstream British television series' to feature gay main characters, but ITV has a good record.
Julian Fellowes' third series of Downton Abbey ended on a storyline about Thomas the valet, whose homosexuality led to pressure for his resignation. ITV soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale have prominent gay characters.
In 2001 Alan Davies starred in Bob & Rose as a gay man who begins a relationship with a woman played by Lesley Sharp.
"ITV is thrilled this exciting and bold sitcom, with stellar performers and writing talent, is to join the increasing slate of new-look comedy shows on the channel," said ITV commissioning editor Myfanwy Moore.
The sitcom will be directed by Ed Bye and is being produced by Brown Eyed Boy and Kudos Film and TV.Reuse content