“Corfu is a jewel set in an azure sea” observes writer Lawrence Durrell (Josh O’Connor) in the finale episode of iTV’s successful television series, Season 3 of The Durrells.
He came to the island with his mother Louisa (Keeley Hawes), who brought his brothers Leslie (Callum Woodhouse) and Gerald (Milo Parker), as well as his sister Margo (Daisy Waterstone) after their father had died in India and times for the family in the aftermath were tough in England.
Since then in the aesthetically pleasing faded villa needing much repair overlooking the Ionian Sea, they have all shared many adventures together, made good friends and had a great deal of fun.
Don’t Read Any More Unless You Want Spoilers.
In Episode 7 Louisa is busy in the kitchen when Larry’s friend from London fellow writer Henry Miller (Trevor White) arrives, prompting memories for Louisa of his walking around the house in London where she stayed briefly, naked.
She soon brings the two silly young men both down to earth with a thud with a dose of motherly love. She is feeling melancholy missing her wonderful friend Spiros (Alexis Georgoulis), who has not been around for days.
Later Henry leaves for a midnight swim – yes, you have guessed it, naked and so Louisa warns Larry they are a respectable family living in a conservative country happily and if anything at all controversial happens while Henry is staying with them, she will hold him personally responsible. He’s none to pleased.
Having a policeman in the family too could prove difficult. Leslie is privy to information about the plans his superiors are taking to issue a warrant against their neighbouring homosexual couple the family support, the Swedish Sven (Ulric von der Esch) and his partner.
Larry comes to warn Sven who says he will send Viggo away and remain hopeful that he can stay.
Louisa and Margo arrive to look to the welfare of ‘Spiros’, because they were worried about him. He’s used to being looked after by the wife who has turned him out and his living space is in chaos needing immediate attention.
Leslie’s superior says he is the policeman who has to go and arrest Sven, much to his dismay. He’s none too happy. When he arrives it is to find Sven sitting on the verandah and that Viggo has left the countryside. When Larry finds out he’s in gaol he and his brother have a huge argument about Leslie and his job.
Louisa lets Gerald she will no longer be making his lunch or supper. She’s sick of having to produce two meals for the family everday and worried her youngest son who has just entered puberty is not receiving enough nourishment for his growth. He did not anticipate being a vegetarian would mean him having to cook his own meals.
Louisa seeking advice from Professor Theo (Yorgos Karamihos), goes to seek help for Spiros from one of his relatives. She meets up with Spiros in the town and he apologises for being a ‘bear with a sore head’. He invites her to sit with him and share a drink in the middle of the day something she’s not used to at all and in around about way, he tells Louisa he cares for her.
Larry and Henry arrive in a flurry to see Sven and find Louisa already at the police station, with a basket of scones for their friend. The two young men are involved in self-interest and don’t like it when Louisa tells them off. Back home a discussion about the subject of homosexuality ensues.
That night Larry breaks into the excellent library of their friend the Countess to look up texts that might enlighten him on the subject of homosexuality and the law, when the Countess (Leslie Caron) appears with a gun.
Leslie is sent to investigate… and she tells him she knows it was; his brother Lawrence. How is he going to hide this fact from his superiors.
There’s a knock on the door at night and Louisa finds her second cousin Basil (Miles Jupp) at the door, arriving from London on a whim to ‘stay a few days’. He’s still sorting out Louisa’s inheritance.
Louisa goes to Spiros’ house again to find he and the relative she sent to ‘save’ him are both drunk. She ticks him off for failing to bring order to the house and in his stupour he admits he loves ‘all of the Durrell’s, especially you. This time she sends Gerry and Lugaretzia to clean and cook for him.
Over supper Larry questions Basil on why he is in Corfu but he’s evasive and when they have all retired later Louisa asks him to tell her what is going on. He admits there is a sliver of a problem about her legacy, which is out of his hands and he’s waiting on a telegram about how to proceed.
Theo, Lawrence and Henry nobly don suits and hats to go into battle with the authorities about holding Sven in contravention of International Law. Lawrence chains himself to Sven’s cell door, but only for a moment because it appears he has forgotten the key to his lock.
Basil arrives to advise Louisa about Aunt Hermione’s estate… which has all been lost because of Basil giving her aunt bad financial advice. So up to the minute! Louisa is devastated. How is she going to pay back the money she borrowed until her inheritance came through.
Not putting her problems onto others, she goes to see the Police Captain in charge of the station where Leslie works, using all her psychological tricks and feminine wiles to have him release Sven, which in the end she persuades him to do.
Sven is amazed at her ability to lie through her teeth on his behalf.
Margo has come to cheer Spiros up and Sven is tasting his first moment of freedom when Leslie resigns from his beloved job, because he won’t confirm Larry is a thief.
Basil arrives with some good news. Louisa has been left a pile of possessions from her aunt that will probably pay off her debts, as long as she sells them.
Penniless in the end, The Durrells declare themselves to be happy.
Louisa leaves to find Spiros, sitting with him at his favourite spot on the clifftop looking out over the crystal green waters of the Ionian Sea toward Athens. She tells him she is lost without him and happily, he declares he is ‘back’.
Episode 8 opens with Louisa on the terrace mending while Spiros washes the car, a very domestic scene. Lugretzia is on to them both, wondering where this heightening of their attraction for each other all may lead as Spiros has a wife and family to support.
Larry meets a pair of ‘internationalists’ at a café in the town…. one of whom is a contortionist with a travelling circus and he begs for her to be his girlfriend, imagining all sorts of encounters with her of a sexual kind.
Spiros takes them all to see where the circus people are camped and Gerald is immediately interested in the animals.
Louisa tries to make friends but the natives are not very friendly – their middle Eastern demeanour means they have forgotten how to have fun.
Daphne and Leslie are spending time together in the lead up to the birth of their first child when Leslie finally proposes… and she agrees to marry him but overcome walks away, and he cannot work out why until he speaks to the Dr.
She says Daphne is seven months pregnant, causing him to understand Daphne’s baby cannot be his. He tracks her down to confront her and she admits it’s not.
So they talk it out and says she loves him and asks if he still wants to marry her and he runs off and tells Louisa all that has ensued.
Spiros and Louisa in trying to help the circus people be successful and so go out driving in his car with a flag advertising the circus, having loads fun together.
Margot is learning to become a magician but the magic is not working until together with Leslie’s help they sort her act, which is to catch a bullet he shoots in her teeth.
She’s a huge hit causing jealousy from the star of the show who refuses to go on… and so the ringmaster enlists Larry as his ‘Talking Head’ from Transylvania.
All in all the circus performance is a big hit and the family briefly celebrate at breakfast the next morning when the mood changes.
Daphne arrives to tell Leslie the father of her child has arrived to stay and so they must part. Interestingly he observes after months of her father and Daphne trying to have him marry you; you don’t know what you want until it’s gone.
Zoltan also comes to say goodbye to Margot and gives her a goodbye present, a model of the Villa they live in on Corfu… with a model of him standing in the doorway and her favourite Aunt Hermione as an angel on the roof. She’s mightily impressed.
Melancholy arrives again with Spiros to tell Louisa his wife and children have returned. He ends their affair which has never really happened and has gone back to being a handyman.
Louisa finds that she is completely devastated but Larry is on hand to comfort her with a distraction.
He takes her onto the terrace, which is full of English guests, convinced by Larry’s eccentric travel writings in The Times to come and visit The Durrells in Corfu.
Where will they put them all up?
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017