Nerves are still frayed and tempers fraught as Sir Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi return for another six-part series of their camp comedy Vicious – and it seems there’s a surprising set of fans who are very eager to see gay couple Freddie and Stuart again…

“Straight women just can’t get enough of Derek Jacobi and me when we’re on screen as Freddie and Stuart!” laughs Ian, who plays Freddie. “A lot of gay people of various ages are grateful for Vicious, too, because they see themselves reflected in our comedy. Lots of youngsters laugh at themselves through Vicious, as do older gay people. Of course, what we’re doing is farce, it’s not real life, but it’s based on attitudes.”

Ian also admitted, however, that Vicious (ITV, Monday, June 1) isn’t going to appeal to everybody: “Some will see two classical actors like Derek and I turning up in a sitcom, letting our hair down a bit, playing for laughs and wanting to entertain, and that can be a little unsettling to some people’s preconceptions.”

Despite the love between jobbing actor Freddie and his househusband Stuart, their constant bickering continues in this second series, this time with shenanigans both in and outdoors.

“The big difference with these new episodes is the pair go outside their flat far more – and every episode starts outdoors,” explains Ian. “Previously, their outings were rare, where as now they get along to a ballroom class, the gymnasium and other places.”

This Monday’s first episode sees the pair help out their best friend Violet (Frances De La Tour) whose estranged sister Lillian (Celia Imrie) is visiting London. Violet doesn’t want Lillian to know her new ‘rich’ husband Jasper has left her, so Stuart offers to pretend to be Jasper while Freddie plays their butler to keep up the pretence that Jasper’s super-rich.

With Stuart very unconvincing as ‘butch’ Jasper and Freddie uncomfortable with being bossed about as a butler, it all goes horribly wrong, especially when their young neighbour Ash (Game Of Thrones star Iwan Rheon) turns up with his new girlfriend, Jess, unaware of what’s really going on.

“We had such fun in all the episodes,” says Ian. “But having Celia Imrie come into our show was just wonderful. I’d pay lots to see her!”