The Durrells is an iTV Television Series set 1935-1939 on the ravishing UNESCO World Heritage listed Greek island of Corfu which lies in pristine waters in the Ionian sea.
Defined by rugged mountains its cultural heritage reflects years spent under Venetian, French and British rule before being united with Greece (1864). Flanked by a pair of imposing Venetian fortresses, the town has winding medieval lanes all the better to get lost in.
English actor Keeley Hawes plays the widowed Louisa Durrell, matriarch of a family of now limited means. When she is not meddling in her four children’s lives in this early paradise, she is learning to love them just the way they are.
Don’t read any more unless you don’t want spoilers.
How do you split up nicely from a girlfriend is a conversation happening at breakfast when we arrive and the other Durrell siblings are helping Leslie (Callum Woodhouse) to understand just how to break up with Daphne (Elli Tringou).
In the end he asks a friend of the family Spiros (Alexis Georgoulis) to deliver a break up letter, although he’s sure to find out, it’s not that easy!
Aunt Hermione (Barbara Flynn) is staying, and she’s off to enjoy an early morning swim in the cool clear crystal waters of the Mediterranean just below the lovely faded rustic shutter encrusted Villa in which they all live, enjoying the adventure of their lives.
The youngest Gerald (Milo Parker) is out bug watching, observing some thousands of different species on a dry-stone wall at the bottom of the garden.
Over the course of the day everyone comes to share a moment with him and to find out what he knows about the cycle of life, which turns out to be not so nice when his favourite bug is eaten by a predator.
The eldest Larry (Josh O’Connor) a writer, informs his mother she must really talk to Leslie about contraception, but when Louisa tries her middle son is not having a bar of it and she fails miserably.
Daughter Margo (Daisy Waterstone) is saying no to Zoltan (Merch Husey) an insistent suitor (bordering on a stalker) she has rejected in a most emphatic manner, for his arrogance and narcissistic tendencies.
However, he’s not easily dissuaded and comes back constantly.
Then there is a new revelation when Daphne’s father arrives at the house to see Louisa, demanding her son Leslie marry his daughter, because she is pregnant. He indicates a shotgun will be in play if he refuses.
A short time later Larry discovers Aunt Hermione in her bedroom at peace with the world. That swim had been her last, but she had died in a place she loved with her family.
They all go into shock as the body is taken away. Louisa however is left to tell Leslie about the baby Daphne is carrying, for the family the timing couldn’t be worse despite the fact that Hermione’s loss of life will be balanced out with the arrival of a new family member.
Margot decides she is arranging a spiritual memorial for her aunt, her mother Louisa hoping it won’t be too extreme knowing her daughter’s idiosyncracies. She has already persuaded them all to kill a goat as a sacrifice!
Margot gives Zoltan the job to slaughter the goat as none of them can seem to manage to do the deed, but he also fails miserably once again endearing himself to the object of his heart.
Louisa moves Margot into her former Aunt’s room but then every night when she goes to bed, she finds the shape of her aunt still appears lying on it and totally freaks out.
The local Greek Orthodox monk Pavlos (Nikos-Orestis Haniotakis) at Margot’s behest, is conducting the memorial ceremony, which turns into a chaotic affair… singing three little maids from school Aunt Hermione’s favourite song is the first disaster.
Larry delivers his homily quoting English writer Emily Dickerson, “Dying is a wild night and a new road. Aunt Hermione is on the road now and as someone who has been in a car with her, God help the driver!… like us”, Larry says, “… she was rejuvenated by this ramshackle magical island – maybe her heart couldn’t take the surge of bliss”
They are all shocked when Margot takes up wailing the Hawaiian lament and for everyone it’s all nearly too much until Louisa stands up and makes an impressive the ‘old must make way for the new’ speech.
Leslie decides he won’t marry Daphne and goes to tell her father who has a shot gun pointed at him. He adds that his family will provide for the baby, which seems to satisfy the old man.
Later he breaks down and declares to his mother he’s not ready to be a parent, and she confesses she is not ready to be a grandmother yet either.
Spiro is charged with watching over Leslie, Margot and Gerald while Louisa and Larry take her aunt’s body home to England. He’s so obliging, clearly he’s enamoured with his favourite client.
Larry finally confesses before he leaves with Louisa, to a distraught Margot, that he has made the dent in Aunt Hermione’s bed every night … trying to teach her not to believe in everything she thinks … but in facts.
Goodness knows what will happen once Louisa and Larry step ashore on that green and pleasant land once again.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018
• Keeley Hawes as Louisa Durrell
• Milo Parker as Gerry Durrell
• Josh O’Connor as Larry Durrell
• Daisy Waterstone as Margo Durrell
• Callum Woodhouse as Leslie Durrell
• Lucy Black as Florence Petrides
• Yorgos Karamihos as Dr. Theo Stephanides
• Alexis Georgoulis as Spiros Halikiopoulos
• Anna Savva as Lugaretzia
• Alexis Caron as Doctor Petrides