ITV’s new family drama The Durrells is based upon Gerald Durrell’s classic trilogy of Corfu memoirs.
Set in 1935, the six-part series is written by Simon Nye.
The story focuses upon Louisa Durrell (Keeley Hawes) whose life is in meltdown. Her husband died years ago and his money has all but run out. Her four unruly ‘children’ – Larry, 21 (Josh O’Connor), Leslie, 18 (Callum Woodhouse), Margo, 17 (Daisy Waterstone) and Gerry, 11 (Milo Parker) – are going off the rails.
Gerry is obsessed with animals and about to be thrown out of school; Larry is a would-be novelist but the worst estate agent in Bournemouth, and the middle two are hitting adulthood like a car-crash. It is the 1930s, and a woman’s options are limited.
Louisa realises she can carry on struggling, marry someone comfortably off but oppressive, or make a radical change and escape… from a domestic pressure-cooker, British weather, uptight Englishness and narrow horizons. This is a rescue mission to somewhere her family can heal itself before it’s too late. So, they uproot and move to Corfu!
Sunday 3 April 2016, 8pm
Louisa Durrell’s (Keeley Hawes) life is in meltdown. Her four unruly children are going off the rails. 11-year-old Gerald (Milo Parker) is about to be thrown out of school, Larry (Josh O’Connor), the eldest is a would-be novelist but the worst estate agent in Bournemouth and the middle two, neurotic Margo (Daisy Waterstone) and gun mad Leslie (Callum Woodhouse) are hitting adulthood like a car crash. It is 1935 and a woman’s options are limited. Much to Larry’s bemusement she takes his flippant advice and makes a radical change by whisking her family away to the sun drenched island of Corfu. A cheap and untamed paradise – which also happens to have no electricity.
Having barely enough money to survive they find themselves relying on charismatic local, Spiro Hakaiopulos (Alexis Georgoulis). Spiro not only finds them a ramshackle house to live in, he also installs Lugaretzia (Anna Savva) as their home-help who is very cheap but a complete hypochondriac.
Despite the beauty of the island, the children soon fall back into their old ways. Corfu provides the perfect inspiration for Larry’s writing and he exacts his revenge on Leslie who insists upon shooting at anything and everything, driving the family mad. Margo takes advantage of the idyllic weather but soon runs into trouble with a local monk (Nick Orestis Chaniotakis) and has to use her feminine guile to win him round. Words fail Margo however, when Larry’s wealthy, party loving friends Max (Max Befort) and Donald (Ben Hall) arrive and she finds herself instantly besotted with Max.
For Gerry the island is his paradise. Rich in exciting species he happily spends his days exploring with Roger the dog and his new found friend and kindred spirit, Dr Theodore (Theo) Stephanides (Yorgos Karamihos). Much to the family’s bewilderment the terrace is soon filled with an eclectic menagerie of animals (pelican and tortoise) and insects (wolf spider), which Gerry eagerly brings home to study.
Believing their mother needs a love interest, Larry invites Captain Creech (James Cosmo) for dinner. However, his suitability for Louisa’s affections quickly proves doubtful when it appears that Larry has brought an old sea dog to the table.
Sunday 10 April 2016, 8pm
Unable to pay the landlord to fix their dilapidated house and fed up of existing on kumquats, Louisa demands the children forage for anything they can sell – something they do with little success.
Gerry is more concerned with the delightful news that Lugaretzia’s aunt, Mama Kondos (Olga Damani) has some puppies and he insists on adopting one. When the wrong puppy is delivered he quickly returns only to discover Mama Kondos about to bury the rest alive. Incensed, he rescues them all but what will he do with six puppies?
Leslie is deliriously happy and spends his time with newfound love, Alexia (Hara Ermidi). As a result, he finds it hard to show sympathy for Margo who is emotionally wounded following a harsh rejection from Max.
With money worries a perpetual reminder Spiro’s constant haranguing of the Corfiot bank seems to pay off when the family come into some money, despite, it coming from a surprising source.
Missing the lack of female friendship, Louisa’s attempt at befriending the wife of the island’s only doctor, Florence Petrides (Lucy Black) doesn’t go as planned. Louisa is later forced to swallow her pride and call on Florence when Larry falls dangerously ill. With her husband away, the responsibility to save Larry falls on Theo and handsome neighbour, Sven (Ulric von der Esch). Despite their being an obvious spark between Sven and Louisa, she worries if their rudimentary medical skills will be enough to save Larry.
Also in the episode, the Durrells find a novel way to stay cool – they dine in the sea!
Sunday 17 April 2016, 8pm
With Theo away, Leslie in love and Larry finishing his first novel, Gerry seeks out a father figure in an unlikely form. Mysterious Kosti Panapoulos (Christopher Sciueref) is a convict out on weekend release and the two bond over wildlife.
Kosti takes a keen interest in Gerry and gives him his huge gull, ‘Alecko’ to look after and together they catch, ‘Old Plop’ a terrapin. When the family learn that Kosti allegedly murdered his wife and lost his son as a result Louisa wonders what his agenda is. When Gerry disappears Louisa fears the worst has happened to him.
Keen to distract her attention away from the opposite sex, Louisa finds Margo employment at the surgery but she proves to be hopelessly squeamish and terrible at filing. A chance encounter with the exotic recluse, Countess Mavrodaki (Leslie Caron) and her dapper butler, Dennis (Jeremy Swift), highlights where Margo’s real talent lies.
Named the ‘best child’ by Lugaretzia, Leslie delights in the food she makes especially for him – at the expense of his burgeoning waistline. Together with a lovingly prepared picnic and a newly acquired pink bike, Leslie heads to Alexia’s to celebrate their two-month anniversary only to find her in the arms of her former boyfriend. Louisa suggestion that Larry take the distraught Leslie out backfires. Not only do the brothers have little in common, but Alexia and Stratos arrive which is a red rag to a bull for Leslie un-used to alcohol and Corfiot bars.
Desperate to harvest their olives, Louisa asks Sven for his advice but their fledgling relationship falters when they argue over his much loved accordion. Sven swallows his pride and apologises. Despite starting on shaky ground there is a much wanted thawing to their relationship.
Sunday 24 April 2016, 8pm
Louisa is left feeling confused following an awkward encounter with Sven. Questioning where her relationship with him is going she finds herself accepting a date with the surprisingly spruced up Captain Creech. In her newly acquired gown courtesy of a begging mission from the Countess, Louisa has every hope that her date will make Sven jealous. But has the previously rum-soaked Creech really turned over a new leaf?
Desperately, waiting for news on his first novel, Larry goads Leslie to the extent where Leslie locks him in the toilet, not knowing it is where Gerry has temporarily stored two bats. When one accidentally dies due to Larry’s predicament, Gerry demands a funeral for the creature. The death motivates Gerry to start a Centre for Scientific Learning and the family realise just how passionate he feels about wildlife – they’re not so sure about his newfound love for taxidermy, however.
Slightly bored at reading trashy romantic novels to the Countess, Margo’s head is turned by the attractive gardener, Angel. Feeling dowdy she takes advantage of the Countess’s beautiful collection of Haute Couture clothes but is worried when Dennis, who seems a little irked by Margo’s presence, catches her. Margo immediately fears her new job will be over before it has really began.
Having had enough of Leslie’s behaviour, Louisa throws him out of the house. However, he takes to his newfound freedom surprisingly well and moves in with thugs, Sotos and Fotis. Despite being the brunt of their jokes, he quickly falls into their bad ways and finds himself embroiled in a burglary.
When devious farmer, Crippenopoulos (George Kopsidas) accuses Leslie of shooting his turkeys, he finds himself in front of the local judge and before he knows it, the charges are trumped up to include armed robbery. Louisa starts to regret moving her family to Corfu and resorts to desperate measures to free her son.
Sunday 1 May 2016, 8pm
Just when life is looking good for the Durrells, Louisa learns her domineering Aunt Hermione (Barbara Flynn), Hermione’s neurotic niece, Cousin Prue (Felicity Montagu) and Prue’s lumpen husband, Geoffrey (Jeff Rawle) will be visiting. As true Anglophiles they complain about the primitive nature of the island and view what the family are achieving with distaste. Hermione is unimpressed that when Larry isn’t furious about his latest book rejection, he spends his entire time in his bedroom with his newly arrived girlfriend, Nancy (Lizzy Watts).
To add to Louisa’s problems, Spiro stumbles across her and Sven in a clinch forcing her to tell the children about their relationship. How will they take the news?
In an attempt to show her Aunt just how positive their lives are in Corfu and avoid having her Aunt send Gerry to a boarding school, Louisa arranges a tour in the only car on the island – Spiros’. However, the trip is soon abandoned when they walk in on Margo kissing Angel at the Countess’, despite her knowing that fraternising with staff could cost her, her job. Things reach a head when Louisa crashes Spiro’s beloved car. Will Louisa have the nerve to stand up to her Aunt or will the island, and the addition of a generator, weave its magical charm over the relations?
Gerry is delighted when Theo introduces him to fellow conservationist, Mrs Vadrukakis (Etela Pardo). However, her desire to start an RSPCA centre on the island with Gerry stalls when she sees how he intends to feed his newly acquired owlets.
Louisa is shocked when Sven asks for her hand in marriage. She tells him she’ll think about it – but will she say yes?
Sunday 8 May 2016, 8pm
When Louisa informs her children that she is to marry Sven they immediately want to vet him. Despite them all approving of the match, well all but Leslie, they feel that something is not quite right and Louisa can’t help but agree. The speed in which Sven sets the date makes Louisa question the marriage further, but the family rally round and embark on the preparations – even Leslie who hides his severe looking scorpion sting.
A shock discovery by Louisa leads to a dark night of the soul with Larry. Will the wedding still go ahead and will Margo manage to entice the highly reclusive Countess to the island’s event of the year?
Eager to show off his growing menagerie, Gerry delights in setting up a zoo and is dismayed at the lack of visitors forcing Louisa to ask Spiro to drum up business. Leslie’s scorpion sting makes Gerry question whether he should set his collection free but will he be able to give up his cherished collection?
Feeling overwhelmed by the Durrell’s, Nancy suggests she and Larry get a place of their own. Larry is unsure, Louisa resorts to underhand tactics to discourage the move and surprisingly even Leslie makes a case for Larry to stay. When Nancy says she wants to return to the UK she gives Larry an ultimatum. Will he follow his love or stay with his beloved yet highly dysfunctional family in Corfu?
Watch the trailer…
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