Rating : ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Categorisation: British Comedy Drama
Availability: TVNZ on Demand, Freeview (you may need to check in Australia)
Plot: The Durrells is a four-series production in which Simon Nye loosely adapted Gerald Durrell’s well known autobiographical trilogy, The Durrells in Corfu. It tells the story of the famous British conservationist’s mother, Louisa Durrell, who is struggling to raise her four children on a meagre widow’s pension in 1930s Britain. Desperate, and pretty much penniless, she decides they will all move to the beautiful Greek island of Corfu. The series then follows the antics of the Durrells as they confront a pauper’s life amidst colourful native flora and fauna and the culturally diverse inhabitants of the island.
Filming and Setting: The series is beautifully filmed and, not surprisingly, the scenery in Corfu is spectacular. From the magnificent cliff-faces to the sun-drenched Mediterranean village, to the Durrell’s dilapidated but charming house that looks over the Ionian Sea, the whole experience is joyful. It makes you want to be there…it really, really does.
Cast: Everyone performs exceptionally well in the series, but in many ways this is Louisa’s story. The family matriarch is played splendidly by Keeley Hawes. Susceptible to more than the occasional tipple and romantic interest, she brings an eccentric parenting style that is effervescent, protective and at times controlling. At one stage, in a plaintive voice, she ponders why her children have become so vile. It’s likely that we will all have our opinions about why this is the case, but it’s very amusing to watch it play out in the Durrell family dynamics. My favourite character is Lugaretzia, played wonderfully by Anna Savva. She is the Greek housekeeper who works for a pittance, and makes no qualms about which of the Durrell children she prefers. It doesn’t matter that she speaks little English, we know exactly what she’s thinking. She is one of the gems of the series, hilariously disparaging most of the time, with an occasional nod of sympathy as Louisa confronts yet another challenging family calamity.
Personal Comments: While each member of the Durrell family experience life’s challenges, nothing really bad ever happens. Cross-cultural misunderstandings occur, romantic liaisons take place, and the eccentric activities on the island seem a world away from their previous dour existence. Broadcasted over four years during the months of April and May, when the average high temperature is a chilly 12 degrees C in Britain, it’s completely unsurprising that millions of Brits have been enamoured by the idyllic and curious stories of a family choosing a particular and unusual Mediterranean lifestyle. If you are feeling like a bit of a tonic as we begin another Covid year, this charming and amusing series might just be the one for you.