The not so great outdoors:
David Tennant and Jennifer Garner (right) share their feelings about the great outdoors in the build-up to their new comedy about camping, screening on SoHo2. Jane Mulkerrins reports.
Broadchurch star goes Camping.
“Ialways assumed I would hate camping because I do quite like home comforts. I like a shower and clean undercrackers (underpants),” muses David Tennant, the star of Broadchurch, Jessica Jones and a former incarnation of Dr Who.
“I really have only been proper camping once,” admits the Scottish actor. “And it was a disaster. I went to a music festival and we got rained on and I woke up the next morning with rivers of water running down either side of the tent we were in. And it didn’t improve for the whole four or five days.
“I resisted briefly,” he continues, of the soggy tent experience. “But then I just surrendered and went feral. So, I’m not a natural camper, but there is an area of me that once I can access it, I can just say, ‘You know what, I’m just not going to shower for five days’, and quite enjoy it.”
But Tennant’s co-star, Hollywood A-lister Jennifer Garner, thinks of herself as a much more competent canvas-dweller.
“I completely love camping,” she enthuses. “I love camping in a group. I love what you wear when you’re camping.”
She admits, however, that, “The camping I do most often is in the backyard, with access to a refrigerator and a stove, and wine. That’s probably glamping, isn’t it?”
Her alter ego in SoHo2’s new series Camping would, no doubt, also consider this cheating.
Written and produced by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, who wrote and directed Girls, Camping is another comedy skewering the seriously self-involved, with the outdoors added this time.
Garner plays Kathryn McSorleyJoddell, a high-maintenance, uptight micro-manager, who has organised a weekend camping trip to celebrate the 45th birthday of her nerdy husband, Walter (Tennant).
Things quickly go awry, as friends and family members turn up without their respective spouses, or with kids (in contravention of Kathryn’s no-kids rule), while others bring new lovers into the intimate grouping.
The show is based on a British series of the same name, which was written by Julia Davis, but Konner and Dunham made the US version very much their own, most notably making Kathryn – who has had a hysterectomy and is living with chronic pain, and a vulnerable pelvic floor – a little more sympathetic.
“When I watched the British version, I thought the performances were brilliant,” says Garner. “But I thought, ‘Oh, I can’t play this. She’s too unrelenting, she’s too shrill, she’s just too nasty.’
“I couldn’t understand why she was the way she was. But the way that Jenni and Lena wrote her, she unfolds just a little dollop of who she is and why she is the way she is, over time, and now, to me, she is the hero of her own story.”
Much of Kathryn’s exhausting demands and social awkwardness are also softened by the likeability of Garner herself, who admits there are aspects of the character to which she relates. “I do love a folder and an organiser – I have a paper planner, yes,” she confesses. The series represents a TV return for Garner, who rose to fame in the drama Alias, before moving to film. “I have always said that I looked forward to going back to TV,” she says. “I love the familial feel on set. I love getting a new script. If people have been offering me things on TV in recent years, I certainly haven’t known about it. Being the lead in a single-lead 22-episode show though – I don’t think that I could do it any more.” That’s why an eight-part, half-hour comedy shot in Los Angeles, however, suited her perfectly. For Tennant, meanwhile, the appeal of the show was, in large part, Walter’s weediness in the face of his pushy, helicopter wife and mother’s fussing. “You can only play so many psychopaths without taking it home,” he says. “It was lovely to play someone who is sweet and open-hearted and long-suffering and possibly most like the real me that I’ve ever done. “The physical manifestation of Walt is how I feel inside so much more than some sort of sharp-suited psychopathic villain. So it was hugely appealing to get into his head space and bucket hat.”
“You can only play so many psychopaths without taking it home.”
– David Tennant