In the U.S., Ian McKellen is best known for starring in two huge movie franchises — “The Lord of the Rings” and “X-Men” — but in 2013, he also launched a comedy series in the U.K. called “Vicious.” In it, McKellen and co-star Derek Jacobi play gay couple Freddie Thornhill and Stuart Bixby, respectively, with Thornhill an aging actor whose career has never quite taken off.

In this amusing clip from Season 1, Thornhill is preparing for his “big break”: An audition for “Downton Abbey,” which is his “favorite television program.”

He’s auditioning for the role of “cook staff No. 4,” though Thornhill has decided his character’s name is Thomas, therefore providing dramatic tension between himself and the scheming under-butler on the show who is also named Thomas.

His big line? “I just wanted to put these potatoes away.”


If you like what you see here, you’re in luck. “Vicious” is coming to PBS Sunday, July 6, 2014.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."