Last Night's TV: Beaver Falls/E4
The Code/BBC2

It's possible that there are viewers who tuned into Beaver Falls (E4's new comedy series about a trio of oversexed Brits doing a season at an American summer camp) in the hope that they would find a delicate comedy of manners, distinguished by its tender observation of human frailty. But if so they're the kind of people who shouldn't be left unsupervised with a box of matches. The title, with its sophomoric double entendre, surely gives fair warning of what you're going to get, and even if you ignored that red flag it wasn't very long before it was clear what we were in for. Fresh out of Oxford (Brookes, but they don't mention that on the application form), Flynn, Barry and A-Rab have plans for a perfect working vacation, looking after spoiled rich kids, and opportunistically taking a crack at any girl old enough not to provoke a queasy sense of sexual abuse in the viewer (they may not entirely have pulled this off).

When they turn up at Beaver Falls there is good news and bad. The bad news is that their boss is a puritanical hard-ass straight out of a high-school teen comedy, one of those high-blood-pressure martinets whose doom is to be perpetually outwitted by his bacchanalian underlings. The good news is that the camp appears to be run by Abercrombie and Fitch: occupied almost exclusively by California hotties of both sexes. And then there's bad news again, because just as our heroes are wiping the drool from their chins, the Baywatch slo-mo cuts out and they turn to find themselves facing their own special charges – a clutch of overweight misfits who include a supercilious preppie, a compulsive masturbator and a wannabe rapper. It turns out there's a reason their hut is nicknamed the Chunk Bunk.

It's an odd kind of camp this, one in which the Calvinist rules of the supervisor (no sex, no drugs, no alcohol) seem to go hand in hand with a regime lax enough to allow all three without much need for concealment. Hardly has the first ad-break gone by than Flynn (the group's Casanova) has inadvertently succumbed to the advances of his boss's wife (did he not wonder why she was at least 20 years older than any of her colleagues?) and Barry is smoking dope on the dock with a friendly blonde. The Abercrombie and Fitch counsellors, meanwhile, are strutting about the place like off-duty SS men, tormenting the fat campers and bouncing chests with their British counterparts, who are morally distinguished here not by the fact that they're nicer to the losers, but by the fact that they simply can't be bothered to put in the same effort to bully them. When they do eventually form an alliance of outsiders, it's only because they've been blackmailed into decency after the children have ferreted out discrepancies in the CVs that got them their jobs.

Like The Inbetweeners, it prides itself on its callow plain-speaking. So if you think that the line "Who wanked on my flip-flop?" is screamingly funny then this may well be for you (I won't judge, I promise). Unlike The Inbetweeners, though, it can't claim the mitigation of a world viewed through the letterbox of teenage sexual desperation, and that occasionally gives it problems. When the fat children demand help in finding free internet porn as one of the conditions for their continued silence and Barry blithely agrees to help, you may find yourself wondering about the niceties of a 20-year-old mentoring a 14-year-old boy in this way, and that's even before the tricky issue of statutory rape has come up. The cruelty of the jock faction is also so overblown and nasty that it is simultaneously unpleasant and unbelievable – a definite lose-lose. Flynn and A-Rab both have back stories that may allow for something a little less coarse and cocky, but I won't be holding my breath.

If you were to judge Marcus du Sautoy's new series, The Code, solely on the basis of its musical soundtrack you'd swear that it was a gothic thriller, and his voiceover wouldn't do anything to disabuse you, going on and on about a hidden code of great power, crafted into the walls of an ancient cathedral and the key to the secret laws of the universe. He means maths, which may come as something of a disappointment to Dan Brown fans and to fans of mathematics, too, who will find they have to wade through a lot of fancy-dress enticement to get at the substantive stuff. I take it the series is intended for people who aren't fans of maths at all and might be expected to run away in fright if confronted with it too abruptly. Anyway, the innumerate may find themselves drawn in. For one thing, Du Sautoy is a likeable screen presence (if not quite as box-office as Professor Brian Cox) and for another there are some nice illustrations of the intimately mathematical nature of the universe, including periodical cicadas that have evolved to emerge at prime-number intervals (because that gives them the best chance of not bumping into the wrong kind of cicada) and some real live nautili (who presumably don't spend a lot of time dwelling on the fact that they're a perfect example of Fibonacci geometry). Anyone nagged by the philosophical question of whether mathematics is just a symbolic description of reality or reality itself will have to go elsewhere. There wasn't any way to make that issue sound like a Dan Brown thriller.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas