Jonathan Cake

  • Actor

Known for: Doll & Em (Buddy)

Press clippings

Review: Camping, Sky Atlantic, eps 3 & 4

I was probably a bit unfair to dub this series Nighty Night On Holiday when I first heard about Camping].

Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 20th April 2016

The new Julia Davis comedy, Camping, about a group holiday on a camping site, hit the sodden grass running with two episodes that simultaneously amused and (deliciously) horrified.

Steve Pemberton played decent, resigned Robin, who was celebrating his 50th birthday, if "celebrating" is the right word, considering his wife Fiona's (Vicki Pepperdine) attempts at psychological castration via the medium of nagging malevolence (Fiona is the first great television monster of 2016). They and their son, Archie (banned by his mother from eating any foods "that could be vaguely homosexual"), were joined by Jonathan Cake's Adam, a recovering alcoholic, his son (a teenage masturbator), and wrung-out dishcloth of a wife, Kerry (Elizabeth Berrington). We also met recently separated Tom (Rufus Jones), cutting a tragic figure in his Topman finery and attempting to recapture his virility with "dubstep DJ" Fay (Davis), a woman determined to turn pretentious vacuity into an art form.

Camping managed to be wickedly funny while also serving as a compelling argument for losing all faith in humankind. Anyone familiar with Davis's oeuvre (Nighty Night, Hunderby) will know what I mean when I describe the characters as either wildly stressed, intrinsically damaged, irredeemably horrible or all three at once. At one point, Tom was caught in flagrante with Fay in a cubicle in a bric-a-brac shop. "Big apols!" he drawled. Priceless.

Barbara Ellen, The Observer, 17th April 2016

Camping review: a gloriously bleak comedy masterpiece

I'm not yet sure that it's quite up there with Nighty Night or Hunderby, but there's no better comedy around at the moment. The only pity is it's on Sky.

Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 13th April 2016

TV review: Camping, Sky Atlantic

I have a bit of a confession to make. I was never a big fan of Hunderby. I liked it but was not devoted to it is many were. For some reason - Blackadder excepted - I like my comedy to be wearing modern clothes. So it is feels me with joy that Julia Davis is back in the modern world for Camping.

Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 13th April 2016

Camping review

All kinds of awkward. The definition of last night's premiere of Camping on Sky Atlantic. Brought to us by the creator of Nighty Night Julia Davis, her latest offering is squirm-in-your-seat funny.

Rose Cory, On The Box, 13th April 2016

Doll & Em is a six-part comedy on Sky Living co-written by and co-starring the actors Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells and produced by Mortimer's husband, the actor Allessandro Nivola. There is also the question of the setting and target of the comedy: Hollywood.

It's very hard to escape the smugness that creeps into any LA-based show that is self-satirising. Even something with the British self-deprecation of Episodes couldn't help but trade on the shock value of a major celebrity (Matt LeBlanc) acting as we believe actors to act: spoilt and cynical. And yet, no matter how vile and superficial the stock pool party in the Hollywood hills is made to seem, the overriding impression is: but wouldn't you like to be here?

One such pool party duly made an appearance in the second episode of Doll & Em, which centres on the semi-autobiographical relationship between successful actor Em (Mortimer) and her best friend Doll (Wells), who has come out from England to work as her personal assistant. There were even some major film star celebrities present in Chloë Sevigny and Susan Sarandon. Was it going to be another dose of self-celebration masquerading as oh-so-cool irony?

That it worked a treat was partly because no big deal was made of it. There were no outrageously philistine producers or predatory starlets. The comedy was not in the manner of the party but its manners - the missed air kiss, the curious asides, the desperate passive-aggressive anxiety that goes into maintaining the unspoken hierarchy of stardom.

In truth, the Sarandon plotline wasn't particularly amusing, but the observation elsewhere was subtle yet forensic, like a sensitive but thorough strip search. It was particularly revealing of the intimate competition surreptitiously conducted between female friends.

As both women fell under the rakish spell of a smooth producer called Buddy (Jonathan Cake), they traded sob stories of their dead fathers in a semi-naked battle to be seduced. That we know in real life they are the daughters of the late John Mortimer and John Wells only added to the comedy of unsayable truths.

It's an awkward, funny and deceptively clever confection that is saved from Hollywood hipness by the unmistakable warmth of the complex relationship at its heart. Perhaps it also helps that it's made by HBO.

Andrew Anthony, The Observer, 1st March 2014

Best mates turned star and assistant Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells take their comedy alter egos off to a Hollywood party where Susan Sarandon and Chloë Sevigny are among the faces mingling, moving and shaking - and Dolly gets the chance to practise her babysitting skills with disastrous results.

But it's in the after-party hot tub that things crank up a gear as the duo compete for the favours of smooth-talking producer Buddy (Jonathan Cake).

Carol Carter and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 25th February 2014

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