TV Review: Camping, Sky Atlantic, Episodes 5 & 6

Don’t be fooled by the jaunty sub-Mumfords music at the start of episode 5. Julia Davis’ comedy-drama comes to a head in all sorts of horrendous ways in these last two instalments.

At some point most of the characters have a meltdown of sorts. There were points when I was not even sure if I was watching a comedy, the story was so bleak. At times this was grotesque in the style of The League of Gentlemen, but in some ways it was far worse because it was so rooted in middle class, middle aged normality.

Most of the cast deserve awards of some kind. Bravery medals even. Rufus “Mr Bonk Boots” Jones for simply being tragic as Tom, Elizabeth Berrington for capturing the full horror of a ketamine comedown as mousy Kerry, Jeremy Cake for revealing Adam to be such a pathetic arse and Vicki Pepperdine for screwing up her face and coming out with lines such as “I hope you’re not pressing for intercourse” as Fiona. Spare a thought for sexually frustrated Robin, played by Steve Pemberton, who is just about the only sane, sympathetic one of the bunch.

And of course the is Julia Davis as Fay, who is the catalyst for the in-tents chaos. Davis has written something horribly unforgettable here, homing in on the worst aspects of humanity. We usually expect teenagers to be badly behaved in dramas like this, but it’s the adults who are the real problem in this. The confrontations and recriminations in Camping make Abigail’s Party seem like, well, a party. 

And, lest we forget, David Bamber deserves a special mention as Noel, who runs the farm. Bamber features heavily in these episodes, really pushing himself to the limit, milking the disturbed, dysfunctional nature of his character for full comic effect. There are plenty of laughs but, boy, are they tinged with sadness. Bamber’s lonely dance to Rick Astley will haunt me for a long time.

Review of episodes 1 & 2 here. 

Review of episodes 3 & 4 here.


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