The Durrells is a new six-part ITV drama based on Gerald Durrell‘s Corfu Trilogy, mixing light family-friendly drama with a hint of comedy, with Keeley Hawes‘ matriarch Louisa, frustrated at her lot.
She’s a widow and has four rebellious children, hence a lack of a father figure in the childrens’ lives doesn’t help. Set in Bournemouth, 1935, events come to a head when the youngest, Gerald (Milo Parker) is caned at school, the headmaster declaring he was distracted from his schoolwork by the fact he was feeding the rats behind the cricket pavillion. Retoring that he’s being bullied, occasional flashes of humour are shown when Louisa takes one of the canes in his office and, eventually, snaps it in two.
Looking for a complete break from it all, aspiring writer and eldest son Larry (Josh O’Connor) suggests they all go to Corfu. There, sole daughter Margo (Daisy Waterstone) goes sunbathing, yet only attracts the ire of a local monk and gets sent away and middle son, gun-toting Leslie (Callum Woodhouse) is a danger to everyone including himself. The cast is rounded out by taxi driver local Spiro (Alexis Georgoulis) who helps find them a house – not only very run down, but it’s detached… and also detached from reality.
Filmed in Corfu, as it should be, I can see why my grandparents regularly holidayed there year after year as it’s gorgeous. An attempt for the family to start afresh, there, just results in them all continuing to argue aplenty. However, it’s good to show this drama to children as it shows that it’s possible to all sit down as a family and NOT all stare separately at mobile phone screens. Since I don’t read books, I’m not sure how much of The Corfu Trilogy will be used in this first series, but I would bet my house on there being plans for more and there certainly deserves to be.
I’m not normally one for period dramas, but Keeley Hawes is always worth a watch, plus there’s James Cosmo, brilliant as an eccentric sea captain, even if at times I thought he was verging into Brian Blessed laughter or Tom Baker’s Captain Redbeard Rum from Blackadder II, and it’s probably the only time you’ll hear the word “bastard” before the 9pm watershed on ITV, although it’s used in a comedic way, highlighting Simon Nye‘s engaging script. One of many amusing moments included when Gerald, obsessed with the local wildlife, was asked by local doctor Theo (Yorgos Karamihos) if his family had kumquats back home in Hampshire, causing the lad to bemoan that they only had apples… and cabbage.
Well, no-one likes cabbage, do they? Unless they’re completely hatstand.
Overall, this is a great start to what looks like a very promising series. 8pm is a prime slot for a family-friendly drama. There’s also no competition at that time, with Channel 4 showing canal trips and the BBC still flogging antiques, so I can see this becoming a firm family favourite.
The Durrells starts tonight at 8pm and airs every Sunday on ITV at 8pm, and it is available to pre-order on DVD, with the release date not yet known. If you miss it, you can watch the episode afterwards on the ITV Hub.
Overall Score: 8/10
Director: Steve Barron
Producer: Christopher Hall
Writers: Simon Nye (based on The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell)
Music: Ruth Barrett
Louisa Durrell: Keeley Hawes
Gerald Durrell: Milo Parker
Larry Durrell: Josh O’Connor
Margo Durrell: Daisy Waterstone
Leslie Durrell: Callum Woodhouse
Spiros Hakaiopolous: Alexis Georgoulis
Captain Creech: James Cosmo
Dr. Theo Stephanides: Yorgos Karamihos
Max: Maximilian Befort
Headmaster: Andrew Bicknell
Lugaretza: Anna Savva
Mr. Trevitt: Graham Seed
Nancy: Liz Watts
Donald: Ben Hall
Alexia: Hara-Joy Ermidi
Market Trader: Yorgos Tryfonas
Monk: Nick Orestis Chaniotakis
Guest House Manager: Arsenis Grimmas
Durrells’ House Owner: Spiros Kasfikis
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.