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Masterpiece: The Durrells in Corfu

The Durrells in Corfu: British TV at Its Quirky, Heartwarming Best

“All the classic ingredients” for Sunday-night TV: warmth, nostalgia, humor, beautiful locations and a star.

By KCTS 9
October 3, 2016
Keeley Hawes (Upstairs Downstairs, Wives and Daughters) stars as an intrepid widow who decamps from dreary 1930s England to a sun-dappled Greek island with her four recalcitrant children, ages 11 to 21, on The Durrells in Corfu. The six-part adaptation of Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals (and its two sequels) will premiere Sunday, Oct. 16 at 8:00 p.m. on KCTS 9.
 
U.K. critics were enthralled by The Durrells in Corfu. The Daily Mail called it “a masterclass in ideal Sunday telly,” while The Daily Telegraph wrote “…it has all the classic ingredients for Sunday-night viewing,” and praised the program’s “warmth, nostalgia, beautiful locations and a star in Keeley Hawes.… [It’s] more than enough to lift the spirits, salve the soul, and make us dive for a laptop to book our very own bit of bliss in the sun.” 
 
Milo Parker stars as Gerry, the youngest—and sometimes most sensible—member of the Durrell family.
The intrepid widow Louisa Durrell (played by Keeley Hawes) invents a new life for herself—and her family—on the bucolic island of Corfu.
 
Co-starring with Hawes — who plays Louisa Durrell — are Josh O’Connor as her eldest son, Larry, the instigator of the family’s sudden move to Corfu and a budding writer on his way to becoming the famous novelist Lawrence Durrell; Callum Woodhouse as son Leslie, an impulsive firearms enthusiast; Daisy Waterstone as daughter Margo, 16 and man-crazy; and Milo Parker as 11-year-old Gerry, who only has eyes for wildlife and grew up to be a world-renowned naturalist.
 
Also appearing are Alexis Georgoulis as Spiros, a Greek taxi driver and all-around fixer for the disoriented Durrells; Yorgos Karamihos as Dr. Theo Stephanides, Gerry’s zoological soulmate; and Ulric von der Esch as Sven, a handsome Swedish expat living his own bucolic fantasy on Corfu, into which he entangles Louisa. 
 
Theo (Yorgos Karamihos) and Gerry (Milo Parker) share a fascination with the island’s strange and wonderful animals.
His family’s real-life adventures were the basis for Gerald Durrell’s quirky yet heart-warming Corfu stories.
 
A tight budget and desperation — not holiday-making — originally drive the Durrells to sink their meager savings into boat fare to Corfu, where they hope to find a refuge more welcoming to their unconventional ways than the stuffy U.K. They arrive on an island with no beach resorts, night clubs, tourist shops, or even electricity — for this is 1935. What Corfu does have is endless opportunity for living, loving, shooting and animal-collecting, depending on your preferences.
 
Gerald Durrell drew on (and embellished) the family’s real-life adventures to create three bestsellers: My Family and Other Animals (published in 1956), Birds, Beasts, and Relatives (1969) and Fauna and Family (1978). These serve as inspiration for Screenwriter Simon Nye, whose adaptation has a bit of the epic quality of Greek myth: There’s Gerry’s enchantment with the marvelous animals that populate the island; Margo and Leslie’s quest to cast a spell on members of the opposite sex; Larry’s titanic struggle to produce a novel that someone will publish; and Louisa’s futile stratagems to force her children to get jobs. 
 
But the central odyssey is the children’s search for a suitable mate for their lovelorn mom. Of course, success hinges on whether mother and offspring can agree on what constitutes “suitable.” 
 
The Durrells in Corfu will air on Masterpiece on Sundays at 8:00 p.m., Oct. 16 – Nov. 20.  
 
Photos courtesy of John Rogers/Sid Gentle Films & Masterpiece
 

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KCTS 9 staff consists of experienced journalists and videographers, producing local stories on the issues that shape the greater Seattle area. More stories by KCTS 9

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