They’ve Gone On Holiday By Mistake: A Camping review.


Written & Directed by: Julia Davis.

Plot: A group of middle aged friends reconvene for a camping trip to celebrate one of the groups birthday. Pretty soon however, cracks in their friendship start to form.

Starring: Julia Davis, Steve Pemberton, Vicki Pepperdine, David Bamber, Elizabeth Berrington, Johnathon Cake

Julia Davis has been responsible for some of the darkest and fitfully funny TV comedies of the 21st century. From her acting work with Chris Morris on Brass Eye & Jam to her writing of the excellent Nighty, Night and the more recent and equally great period piece Hunderby. Davis’s clever pitch black humour and deadpan delivery have become calling cards of comedic excellence, Camping is no different.

Camping has a great script but is nothing without the tremendous assembled cast who, as in a lot of Davis’s work, all pitch in and are freely welcome to ad-lib. Steve Pemberton gives a reliably solid performance as the Birthday boy Robin and downtrodden husband of Vicki Pepperdine’s unpleasant control-freak wife Fiona who’s constant henpecking and worry for her son’s possibilty of contracting airborne homosexuality and his “elongated anus” are equally excruciating and hilarious. There is also a note perfect turn by Rufus Jones as Tom, a man going through what can only be described as the 21st century equivalent of a mid-life crisis. From his carrot-cut Top Shop jeans to his conspicuous hair transplant and his ridiculous, wretch-inducing fawning of his new vacuous, nymphomaniac girlfriend played to irritating perfection by Davis. Davis has an unnerving talent for creating weird, slightly sinister, socially inept grotesques and in Camping she created a doozy. David Bamber’s nervy campsite owner Noel who constantly skirts the line of being sympathetic and thoroughly creepy in his sheltered existence looking after his unseen invalid mother before tipping over the scales into full blown scary for the series deliciously WTF denouement.

Davis has made a career as a writer & performer of considerable talent and with Camping she has excelled herself once again. It is a perfectly characterised, gloriously dark and hugely funny series that I would highly advise you track down.

Camping is currently available on Sky Atlantic on demand.

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