How’s the summer coming along? Hot, stuffy, humid, boring, and never-ending? Don’t you often wish you were anywhere but here – like somewhere beautiful and by the sea? Somewhere like Greece, maybe?
ITV’s six-part series, The Durrells, is the perfect summer vacation you have probably been aching for. We suggest you pack light, and board the binge-train as soon as possible.
Based on the timeless Corfu trilogy by British conservationist Gerald Durrell, The Durrells tells the semi-autobiographical story of his family, which moves from damp and bleak pre-war London to the sunny Greek Island of Corfu in the 1930s.
Keeley Hawes plays the mother-in-trouble, Louisa Durrell, whose life is in utter and complete disarray. Her husband has been dead for a while and the money has almost run out. Add to that four kids who are totally out of control. Larry (Josh O’Connor), 21, is an aspiring writer and a failed estate agent (he will later be known as the renowned author Lawrence Durrell). Future zookeeper Gerry (Milo Parker), 11, is about to be thrown out of school. Leslie (Callum Woodhouse), 18, and Margo (Daisy Waterstone), 17, are crashing towards adulthood without brakes and without a map.
Louisa has limited options. She can marry and give her jumbled family a new father and a new home. Or she can change things around. She decides to take the road less travelled and relocates to Corfu, where the bills are smaller and the skies are bluer.
Here in a crumbling old home she finds new friends, new meaning and a renewed enthusiasm for love and life. Louisa is saved from a scrape more than once by her local friend and driver Spiro Hakaiopulos, who not only finds her a cheap place to live in, but also Lugaretzia, the house help who is chaotic enough to seamlessly fit into the Durrells’ dysfunctional way of life.
Self-consumed as they may be, the four unruly children find purpose in Corfu. Larry finds that clean sea air gives him a clearer mind as he types away, writing story after story. Leslie, who can’t be found without a gun, now finds a Greek girlfriend, Alexia. For Gerald, Corfu is a paradise populated with the most exquisite species to take home, read and observe – from turtles, bats and pelicans to scorpions and wolf-spiders. He also befriends Dr Theodore (Theo) Stephanides, a naturalist who mentors Gerald and helps him build his zoo.
The island is a paradise for Margo too, who loves to sunbathe – plenty of sun in Corfu! She is undeterred when an orthodox priest yells at her to cover up, and uses cleverness and cigarettes to shut him up. Things don’t always work out for her, though. She finds herself smitten by Max, a friend of Larry’s who does not reciprocate her feelings.
As the kids busy themselves with adventures big and small, Louisa struggles to keep a roof above their heads. Her kids try to find her a boyfriend, when all she wants them to do is go out find a job, or better still forage for food, or for anything to sell.
The series makes a few changes to the original story from Gerald Durrell’s books, including My Family and Other Animals, but none of it takes away from its brilliance. The show is more concerned with the family part of the book and not so much the animals, though they do make up an essential part of the show too.
Created by Simon Nye, The Durrells is a triumph. The series is sweet, but never sickly sticky. There are guns, convicts, drunken sailors, taxidermy, broken hearts, and an aging lonely countess to keep the story exciting for six one-hour episodes. The show has been renewed for a second season, and we couldn’t be any more excited for another trip to idyllic Corfu.