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The Durrells of Corfu
By Elyse Sommer
That brings me to my enjoyable armchair trips to the sun-drenched Greek island of Corfu to follow the adventures of the Durrell family during their four years on Corfu. The four season, 26 episode mini series is based on the the youngest Durrell's memoir about life with his family and his own ever-expanding enthusiasm for the wild life he discovered and collected there: The Corfu Trilogy— My family and Other Animals; Birds, Beasts and Relatives; and Garden of the Gods.
Simon Nye first adapted the idyllic world of that Greek island for a 2005 movie starring Imelda Staunton. That movie stuck more closely to the facts in the book. But to make his adaptation compatible with the Masterpiece series that began airing in 2016, Nye allowed his imagination free reign to change details about where they lived and with whom they interacted. The sunny Island and the between-the -wars timeframe (1935-1938) provided him with a perfect de rigeeur Masterpiece element: a gorgeous visual setting full of wonderfully authentic details. Adding to the adaptation's Masterpiece compatibility, are the many interesting subsidiary characters and several romantic entanglements that Nye concocted.
While lacing the grandeur of Downton Abbey's Crawleys, the Durrells' big rented house fronted by the sea and the numerous other locations are nevertheless a feast for the eyes. And, though Louisa Durrell (Keeley Hawes) and her three sons and one daughter ( Josh O'Connor as Larry, Callum Woodhouse as Leslie, Daisy Waterstone as Margo, Milo Parker. as Gerry) can live more cheaply in Corfu than in England, it's still a challenge to cover expenses with Louisa's very modest widow's pension. The ways she deals with that challenge is ripe with opportunities for constant plot complications.
The series is billed as comedy-drama. Nye and directors Steve Barron and Roger Goldby do keep things funny, often allowing an episode to edge towards the sort of farce the Brits do so well. But the script also captures the genuine love between mother and children, a love that sustains them despite failed moneymaking endeavors and romances.
Thanks to a truly superb cast, the farcical episodes never succumb to silliness. Consequently, The Durrells in Corfu is a comedy that manages to be touching and ultimately proves that even idyllic places like Corfu can't make us immune to life's blows and dangers beyond our control..
Sure, some of the interactions, including Louisa's own never fully realized romance with Spiros (Alexis Georgoulis), the taxi driver who becomes part of their lives from the moment they arrive in Corfu, are as dated as the novel -writing son Larry's typewriter. But, with four seasons and twenty-eight hours to help us escape from the stark reality of our pandemic controlled, politically fraught lives, The Durrells in Corfu, is a great online diversion.
Keeley Hawes makes Louisa Durrell into one of the most memorable single moms I've met on page, stage or screen. Her yearning for love after eight years of losing a husband she adored is palpable, her energy and resilience is awesome. We share her highs — and her lows.
While Louisa is the series' linchpin character and Keeley Hawes its star, the actors playing her children created rich portraits of individual growth and family solidarity. Larry, the son who's always tapping away on his typewriter or scribbling tin a notebook, would seem to be the author of the series' source book. (You may recall O'Connor playing another son in the ( The Crown). While Larry did thrive as a writer, most famously with The Alexandria Quartet, it was the animal loving young Gerry (Milo Parker) who wrote the popular trilogy. Since The Durrells In Corfu unlike many long-running series never recast its key cast, Parker is the one actor who most visibly changes in the later seasons. Like the rest of the family, he too gets a romantic interest.
Some of the most endearing other characters who play important roles in the Durrells' Corful life are Gerry's mentor Dr. Theo Stephanides (Yorgos Karamihos) Sven (Ulric von der Esch), and Lugaretzia (Anna Savva), the grim-faced houskeeper who becomes part of the family.
Of course, for many viewers, the most delightful part of the series are the animals that pop up in each episode. These non-human scene stealers include turtles, snakes, gulls, and goats.
Postscript: For a less romanticized version of this eccentric but fascinating family, you may want to check out Michael Haag's The Durrells. And \\ Postscript: To find out what happend to the Durrells, check out the following link: https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/the-durrells-in-corfu-what-happened-to-the-durrell-family-after-the-war.html/ . . . . and for a more factual and less romantic version of what they were all about, there's The Durrells by Michael Haag.
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The Durrells in Corfu
Based on The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell
a Written by Simon Nye
directed by Steve Barron and Roger Goldby
Theme music composer Ruth Barrett
No. of series 4, no. of episodes 26
Principal Ccharacters: Keeley Hawes as Louisa Durrell, Josh O'Connor as Larry Durrell, Callum Wooa as Gerry Durrell, Alexis Georgoulis. as Spiros Hakaipolous, Yorgos Karamihos as Dr. Theo Stephanides, Ulric von der Esch as Sven, Anna Savva as Lugaretzia
Available to Acorn Prime and THIRTEEN subsceibers