Lena Dunham's Girls was a hit for HBO. Will her new show be as popular? Michele Manelis asks the question.

Weekend: What is the origin story of Camping?

Lena Dunham:

I liked the British TV show it's based on, by Julia Davis. Secondly, my favourite episodes of TV shows are always the ones where they're out of their usual environment. For example, there's an episode of

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My So Called Life

in which Julianna Hatfield plays an angel and for one episode, they move into the world of the supernatural. Or the episode of

Enlightened

where Luke Wilson and Laura Dern go on a canoe trip, and you see what their relationship could have been and wasn't. The episodes, that we always refer to as "bottle episodes", that we loved doing so much on

Girls

, where you take characters out of their environment to learn more about them, I love that.

What are your memories of camping?

My own relationship to camping is that I do not have a particularly successful relationship with the elements. My parents had me go to camp the summer I turned 12. My best friend and I went to camp and it was a bike trip where we camped at a different camp site every night. I cried and called my parents from every pay phone across New England. I was so miserable.

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Lena Dunham and Jennifer Garner on the set of Camping.
Lena Dunham and Jennifer Garner on the set of Camping.

When was the Camping concept born? At the tail end of Girls?

Yes. It was just as we were about to premiere the final season of Girls. At that point I was having some serious health problems [endometriosis] and I was spending a lot of time in bed. I spend a lot of time in bed now, just in a more pleasurable way. But back then friends were sending me things to watch, things to read. [Novelist] Zadie Smith sent it to me.

How do you watch TV? Are you streaming everything on your laptop? Or do you actually have a TV?

I have a TV but I don't use it that often. I am not just saying this because I am an employee of HBO, but I really spend a lot of time on HBO GO because I love to watch old documentaries and classic films, and that is how I am catching up on the last season of Insecure, which obviously is incredible. And it's how I just caught up on Barry and it's how I watch Last Week Tonight, so I spend a lot of time there. I live with a really close friend of mine and he lives in my little guest house and so we do a lot of VOD, if there is a random festival, like Surf Films from the 1960s. I like to watch something that completely removes me from my environment.

Do you see yourself starring in a series in the future?

I would love to act in a series. I love acting. It's something I am really passionate about and, for me, everything comes out of the writing. So if the writing necessitates me directing, I will direct. If the writing necessitates me acting, I will act. But for me the No.1 priority is always the writing and everything else springs forth from that.

Lena Dunham, right, on the set of Camping.
Lena Dunham, right, on the set of Camping.

In Girls the cast were at the beginning of their careers but here you have some well-established names. Is there a difference?

The difference with people who no one has seen, versus people who have careers, is that people don't know what to expect from that first cast. But the fun of having actors like this, is that you get to subvert expectations. So what is so fun is like what David Tennant is famous for, these kind of brooding and intense characters, and he's played evil, he's played a pushy detective and so to have him be this subservient husband, is really a different energy. Jen Garner is known for being likable and a sweetheart and so to have her play this character who is so controlling and dark and negative, also is a super different energy.

Girls was such a benchmark in television and changed many perspectives. What would you like Girls to be remembered for?

I hope it allows other people to tell their stories. It was so specific for me and the fact that I got to have my voice and my vision projected for so many people; I hope it makes it easier for somebody who is interesting and complicated and helps someone who comes into the network and pitches their material. I want people to have the opportunity to tell their stories in a unique and specific way. And to have the money to do it, because there's so much money floating around Hollywood and I think what we have learned is that when we give opportunity to people who have a very unique story and perspective, rather than just a sequel or a franchise, people respond to it.

• Watch Camping on SoHo2 on Thursdays at 8.30pm, with encore screenings on Sundays at 10.30pm, or via Sky On Demand.