Grace Dent on TV: Vicious and The Job Lot, ITV

You could say it glorified sexual assault and stereotyped gays, but I took it as a lovely daft romp

An abundant week for new television. Two new ITV1 comedies, Vicious and The Job Lot, plus Sky One's fresh-out-the-oven fly-on-the-wall doc series on Greggs the bakers entitled, ahem, More than Meats the Pie. If one is in the marketplace for a ton of heartwarming tales about proud, industrious bakers, lovely Northern lasses popping warm cheese pasties into paper bags and old folks' gossipy coffee mornings, this is a glorious way to spend an hour. It's like one long Victoria Wood As Seen On TV sketch but with the subliminal mind-implant “Mmmm pastieeees, lovely fresh cheese scone, mmmmm ring doughnut with a neon pink glaze, all on your High Street now”.

Meanwhile, on Sky Atlantic we saw Alan Ball's new offering Banshee. Ball was creator, writer and producer of my favourite show of all time, Six Feet Under, so my hopes were inflated. Banshee, however – the tale of an ex-con and master thief who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee, Philadelphia – is a tad too much running, leaping and sweating while dodging exploding cars for me. I suspect I'm not the correct demographic. This is TV for a man whose wife has gone to her mother's for a few days and, after his initial burst of “woooooh the world is my oyster!”, is now in sweat pants, drinking a cold can of lager while waiting for a chicken jalfrezi and garlic nan to arrive. My genetic make-up reacts to Banshee with the inner monologue: “Well this is a terrible pickle. He's not making anything any better for himself with all this shouting and shooting. ” Six Feet Under, Banshee is not. For true introspective wisdom about American masculinity on screen, there's a lovely long nerdy look at the subject in BBC2's The United States of Television.

More my type of television was new comedy Vicious, the panto-style tale of two heavily theatrical, caustic old homosexuals – Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi – living in a dark flat, curtains drawn, loathing everyone, with occasional visits from sublime proto-hag Violet – Frances de la Tour – who turns up to add deadpan fuel to their bitching bonfire. Broad, brash and shallow this may be, but if this isn't at least a rough outline of my life in the Starlight Home for Retired Hacks circa 2057, then something has gone very awry. I rather loved British stalwart Marcia Warren as Penelope, when the ensemble sat sipping tea at a gay wake, remembering their dead friend's terrific affection for handsome men. “Wasn't there a wife?” Penelope said, scrunching her face to remember the finer details of the 1960s, “I'm sure I remember a wife?” “Ugh, 17 years,” McKellen hissed with an airy wave.

Most of the opening jaunt of Vicious featured the aged couple making colossal fools of themselves by flirting with their new twenty-something neighbour. If one really wants something to get terrifically het up about, one could say the whole show glorified sexual assault and augmented gay stereotypes. I just took it for a lovely, daft, gay, romp full of acidic quips. It's too beautifully easy and temporarily satisfying to detest all new comedy on sight. I do it myself.

The opening titles roll, the first scene appears establishing characters in broad strokes. “Ugh, I hate everyone here!” the internet roars, 'I hate the fact this was even made, I hate everyone involved, in fact this shit-fest is the amalgamation of all that is wrong, safe, depressing and nepotism-fuelled about British TV commissioning.“ Obviously, in the case of BBC1's The Wright Way, this is not only true but an understatement, but, in most cases, it's just a show gathering momentum.

Following on from Vicious, The Job Lot, set in a West Midlands Job Centre, was really rather loveable. Russell Tovey as a beleaguered dole-claim clerk, Sarah Hadland as his anxious boss, plus an ensemble cast featuring an anally retentive toxic pen-pusher (Jo Enright, one of Britain's best character actresses), the long-term professionally idle Sophie McShera (Downton Abbey) plus the glorious Adeel Akhtar (Four Lions and Utopia). Russell Tovey's delightful “stick your job up your arse” strop, followed a mere 10 minutes later by a complete volte-face genuinely made me gleeful. In fact, I could watch Sophie McShera argue with Russell Tovey about why she can't take any of the jobs on offer for the entire episode. Tovey: “Greggs, the bakery, 15 hours a week?” McShera: “I'm wheat-intolerant”.

So, all in all, a lovely week of staring at a box in the corner of the room. Throw in a bit of E! channel's Chelsea Lately and Ryan Seacrest's dinner with the Kardashians – each one lovingly grilled for their inner wisdom (Rob Kardashian's sock company is going great guns) – and there was literally no good reason to stand up. Let's be honest, the untelevised world can be a huge let-down. I find most trips outdoors to be a flagrant waste of lipstick.

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk