TV: Campus brims with offensiveness but needs more jokes

Channel 4 comedy stars Andy Nyman and Will Adamsdale

Victoria Pile's Campus, starring Andy Nyman and Will Adamsdale, brims with offensiveness but needs more jokes (Channel Hopper)

Channel 4’s Comedy Showcase project had a can’t-win look about it. Launched in 2007 and resurrected in 2009, a collection of pilot episodes was put to the viewing public and either sunk into oblivion or commissioned for a full series. Had none of them made it beyond the audition stage, the format would be rightly deemed an abject failure. Should too many be handed a six-episode contract, then it would have seemed a lesson in self-justification. Plus One was awarded a deserved lifeline, while The Kevin Bishop Show, PhoneShop and Free Agents were inexplicably given the thumbs-up.

Next for the full-season treatment is Campus (Channel 4, Tue 5 Apr, 10pm). Not for nothing has it been dubbed ‘Green Wing set in a red-brick university’, considering it’s the brainchild of that show’s creator, Victoria Pile. The tone is set from the off with Vice-Chancellor Jonty de Wolfe (Andy Nyman) brutally offending a wheelchair-using student. Later he will dissolve into Jamaican patois and indulge in groundbreakingly racist chatter with a trio of Asian undergrads.

We’ve seen Nyman play a beast before (as the self-obsessed reality-TV producer in Charlie Brooker’s zombie comic-horror Dead Set) but his prompting of one student towards suicide to help solve a funding crisis inadvertently caused by the uni’s chief accountant (Will Adamsdale of Jackson’s Way) is about as subtle as it gets. Another five episodes of this might be too much for anyone to stomach, but opting for more wilful surrealism over the gratuitously offensive could be one way to go.

Channel 4, Tue 5 Apr, 10pm.

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