Wakey Wakey Campers, Channel 4

by | Aug 30, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

Hi-De-Hi recreated with pink coats replacing yellow, the Moroccan Bar replacing the Hawiian Ballroom and Major Vernon Rees in charge instead of dear old Geoffrey Fairbrother.

What to say if you disliked it

A waste of an opportunity to provide an insight into a fascinating part of Britain’s social history.

What was good about it?

The Atherfield Bay holiday camp on the Isle of Wight, rechristened The Sunshine Camp (“Gaiety guaranteed”), emerged as a fine, uplifting place to spend a fortnight, rather than tacky trips to Barbados or Kavos or, even worse, indulging in the least edifying holiday experience of all: “luxury” cruises. Major Rees spelt out the attractions: “no satellite TV, no all-night raves, no foul language, no lewd behaviour.”

• The archive footage of what life on holiday camps was really like, rather than the palid facsimilie this show offered.

• The magnificent mutton chops on 62-year-old Chubby Oakes, who loved the camp and kept puffing on his pipe even during the keep fit class

• The 82-year-old Janet, surely the model for Catherine Tate’s granny. “Who’d want an old f**ker like me?” she croaked.

• We really wished we’d been there to join in when the audience was encouraged to stand up, then sit down at various points of Daisy Daisy.

What was bad about it?

• Channel 4 has a great record for providing reality shows laced with irony, humour and intelligence – but this was just silly lightweight stuff with as much substance as a candy floss in a thunderstorm.

• The tacky, terrible title sequence nearly had us switching off. It was so abysmal it seemed we were about to watch one of those ITV1 Saturday night shows that lasts for a few weeks before being shifted to a Sunday afternoon graveyard.

• The tacky, tinny music made it almost unwatchable.

• The holidaymakers treated the exercise as a chance to sneer and moan and most had no interest in community spirit and old-fashioned harmless fun.

• The “Fun for all” cry – and the mumbled reply of “All for fun.”

* The pointless “celebrity” element, getting Stan Boardman, Anne Kirkbride, Roy Hudd, Tom O’Connor and Mike Reid to share holiday camp memories.

• “The clothes are hideous”, wailed a middle-aged woman as she was forced to wear a more becoming outfit than her inappropriate D.I.V.A. T-shirt.

• The most stuck-up participant was a Ffiona. Has anyone ever meet a nice Ffiona? (Not to be confused with Fionas. They’re all lovely)

• The Smoking Room’s Debbie Chazen having to utter narration nonsense such as: “In the 21st century the customer is king; in the 1960s, they weren’t even minor royalty.”

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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