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Johnny Vegas: Carry on Glamping – this daft TV quest will drive you round the bend

·3-min read

You’ve got to hand it to Channel 4: no other channel has quite perfected the feeling of woozy, comedown TV like it has. This obviously comes from the exemplar of the form, which is Sunday Brunch: even watching it sober and after a full night’s sleep, the strange anti-banter and quiet-then-loud-laughter-then-quiet-again audio landscape is reminiscent of a huge, horrible hours-long sesh; the kind you wake up from on someone else’s sofa, no charge left in your phone, while someone in the kitchen makes a full fry-up. “Where am I?” you manage to croak, and a guy in a vest who doesn’t blink much just yells: “WOOD GREEN, BRO!” That is what watching Sunday Brunch feels like. That is the point of Sunday Brunch.

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Johnny Vegas: Carry on Glamping (Wednesday, 10pm, Channel 4) is not Sunday Brunch, but it evokes the same itchy feeling of when no one can find a remote so you all just watch whatever channel is on in stunned silence, until someone can get it together enough to go to the shop for six “really cold” bottles of Lucozade. Johnny Vegas wants to start a glamping business. His dream is to make his glamping structures out of refurbished buses. “There’s a voice inside going: ‘Do it, because if you don’t somebody else will,’” Vegas explains, and it does rather feel like that voice is wrong. If someone’s getting up, can you get me some water please? I feel like my head is going to explode.

The jokey-jokey documentary format doesn’t quite fit here. You get glimpses of the Vegas you feel he wants to convey – an art school graduate rediscovering his aesthete roots by brushing his fingertips lovingly along the chrome of a Maltese island bus; a panel show punchline who finally wants to be taken seriously – but then he does something just really calamitously stupid such as getting drunk and buying a bus online without checking whether it’s in Europe or not, and it’s back to square one. Following Vegas as he attempts to live out his glamping fantasy is incredibly frustrating: he’s a reality-adverse romantic, easily distracted and allergic to responsibility. It doesn’t bode well for project management.

Around him are a swarm of people who treat Vegas with the gentle support you might give a disruptive eight-year-old. We are introduced to his “long-suffering assistant, Bev”, whom you might recognise from Vegas’s appearances on Gogglebox. Clearly Channel 4 producers find their on-screen patter more charming than I do, seeing as it’s like watching two strangers make small talk in the queue for a semi-embarrassing prescription collection.

“I’m really looking forward to proving every one of them wrong,” Vegas says early on in the show after his grand glamping concept is met with underwhelm by his family and friends, and you feel like that’s when the camera people should have stopped rolling, pulled him to one side, and quietly asked whether spending the next two years buying buses and dragging them to Wales was really going to solve any of his problems. Still, they didn’t, and now we have these four episodes to show for it. Maybe you’ll half-enjoy the repeat of it on a hangover in 2025.

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