Campus. Image shows from L to R: Imogen Moffat (Lisa Jackson), Nicole Huggins (Sara Pascoe), Jonty de Wolfe (Andy Nyman). Image credit: Monicker Pictures.

Campus

Semi-improvised sitcom set in a fictitious university. Created by the team behind Green Wing and Smack The Pony

Strand:
Channel 4 Comedy Showcase 2009
AKA:
Comedy Showcase: Campus
Genre:
Sitcom
Broadcast:
2009 - 2011  (Channel 4)
Episodes:
7 (pilot + 1 series)
Starring:
Andy Nyman, Alison Lintott, Ahir Shah, Chizzy Akudolu, Matt Devitt, Joseph Millson, Lisa Jackson, Jonathan Bailey, Sara Pascoe, Will Adamsdale, Dolly Wells
Writers:
Robert Harley, James Henry, Oriane Messina, Gary Parker, Victoria Pile, Richard Preddy, Fay Rusling, Christian Sandino-Taylor
Production:
Monicker Pictures

Campus is set in a fictitious 'new' university and explores the lives and souls of a handful of people that work there - some as academics, some simply involved in the general running of the place.

With a semi-improvised feel, Campus features an ensemble cast, and is made by the team behind Green Wing and Smack The Pony, including producer Victoria Pile.

At the helm of Kirke University is stubby, mercurial Vice Chancellor Jonty de Wolfe, who wants nothing more than to drench the uni in the juices of his own greatness.

As a scary cloud of financial doom hovers over the gently crumbling 60s concrete, Jonty attempts to pimp up Kirke in any way he can, whether it's faked alumni, kidnapped prodigies or a range of "Eau de Kirke" perfumery - but his lofty plans soar as gracefully as a porky tortoise and while the strangely unsettling puppet master plunges deeper into the pickle jar, the rest of Kirke's assorted staff get sidetracked by the more urgent dilemma of who to sleep with next.

The philandering English Professor Matt Beer is forced to up his game in all departments, as he makes no impression on shy Maths lecturer Imogen Moffat, who herself is consumed with creative agony over expectations of a follow-up to her hit Mathsbuster. He is left to contemplate his rapidly greying pubes while his younger, bouncier, athletic student sidekick Flatpack - who combines a six-pack body with the intellect of a piece of Ikea furniture - makes more headway with the lovely maths boffin. The gawky mechanical engineer Lydia 'big s**t' Tennant, the three Graces of Admin (Big Grace, Pretty Grace and 'Was Once A Man' Grace), Jason the reticent accountant and Nicole the feisty accommodations officer add more sexual confusion to the mix.

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Our Review: The pilot for Campus split audiences down the middle. Opening with a Stephen Hawking/spastic joke was perhaps not the best way to ingratiate the more liberal viewer - but those who didn't turn off 30 seconds into the programme would have seen the gag within the context of the character; a highly objectionable Vice Chancellor.

Much of the rest of the humour was crude (although not in a Two Pints manner), which was certain to put off some, whilst others have criticised its similarity to Green Wing, which was made by the same people. For example, critics have compared womanising English professor Matt Beer is somewhat similar to womanising anaesthetist Guy Secretan, and mechanical engineering lecturer Lydia to Sue White. Critics have also compared Jonty De Wolfe unfavourably to The Office's David Brent (having the same beard doesn't help).

However, some enjoyed the ideas and hints toward surrealism in Campus; and we felt that although it wasn't a mind-blowing start, it certainly showed promise. Some of the characters felt a bit flat, and the skipping between them did leave a feeling of a lack of direction at times, but there were still a number of laughs throughout and hopefully these problems will be ironed out, and characters fleshed out, as the full series arrives.

The first episode was an expanded version of the pilot. Again, much of the same criticism that was was written at the time of the pilot has been repeated, and only 718,000 people watched the first episode.

However, those who stuck with Campus tend to be of the view that the series did improve after the first few episodes, as new characters such as Canadian troubleshooter George Byran appeared, as well as the development of the relationships between the characters, especially Jason's relationship with Nicole, and the love triangle between Matt, Imogen and Flatpack.

The first series ended with a shock for one or two of the characters, so the writers are clearly hoping for a second series. Sadly, it will never happen as Channel 4 have axed Campus after one series due to the poor ratings.