TV Review: Camping, Sky Atlantic, Eps 3 & 4

It’s interesting the way Sky Atlantic has scheduled Camping. The latest series from the pungent pen of Julia Davis is filmed as six separate episodes but is being shown as two at a time back-to-back over a three-week period. Maybe Sky thought the episodes were so good they couldn’t wait to get them out.

On the other hand, however, Camping is often so exquisitely, excruciatingly painful to watch – albeit in a good way – it is hard to get through two episodes in one sitting. It’s a bit like a rollercoaster. You want to go on it once to be terrified but you don’t necessarily want to go straight back immediately. I think some women feel the same about childbirth.

Last night’s double episode was a test case for this. I watched them both but did well not to have nightmares about the sight of sour-faced Fiona (Vicki Pepperdine) masturbating while being watched by creepy farmer Noel (David Bamber). I was also relieved not to have flashbacks of Tom (Rufus Jones) dancing awkwardly in a pub while wearing soiled lederhosen.

These middle episodes were pretty much owned by Rufus Jones as tragic Tom. At the outset of the series he briefly looked like the cool divorced dad among the middle-aged marrieds with his sexy new girlfriend Fay (Davis), but by the end of episode four he was left truly alone. But not before he had had his budgie smugglers pulled down by the haunted but more hunky Adam (Jonathan Cake).

i was probably a bit unfair to dub this series Nighty Night On Holiday when I first heard about Camping. The scope is much broader than that. There were hints of League of Gentlemen this week (“trotter platter” anyone?) and at times I thought it was going to turn into either Psycho or Straw Dogs. But Julia Davis is way too imaginative and original to be derivative. Scary stuff certainly. And grim. But always compellingly comic too.

Camping, Tuesdays, Sky Atlantic, 10pm.

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