The enchanting story of the young Gerald Durrell is coming to television screens once again, this time in a six-part series commissioned by ITV. To be broadcast in 2016, The Durrells is based on Gerald Durrell’s three books about his magical childhood on the Greek island of Corfu in the 1930s. It is being filmed in Corfu in the autumn of 2015 in locations frequented by the Durrell family, their eccentric friends and “other animals”.
The production company, Sid Gentle Films Ltd, and ITV are keen to help Durrell promote what its Founder, inspired by his Corfu years, made his life’s mission – saving species from extinction. Lee Durrell, Honorary Director of the Trust, is “thrilled” about the new series, “hoping that it will be a timely reminder of the importance of Gerry’s work today and will inspire others to take up his cause.”
Gerald and Roger in Corfu 1935
The Trust will collaborate on press releases, publicity and screenings, and Lee will give interviews about Gerald, Corfu and the Trust’s work.
Executive Producer of The Durrells, BAFTA award-winning filmmaker Sally Woodward Gentle (Whitechapel, Any Human Heart, Enid), says, “Gerald Durrell’s novels are some of the warmest, wittiest, books of the last century. It is no wonder they are so well loved. It is a real treat to be working on them with the brilliant Simon Nye. I hope that his obvious love of the characters and the material will be hugely infectious.”
The highly acclaimed screenwriter Simon Nye (Men Behaving Badly, The Railway Children) is no stranger to the Corfu story. He also wrote the script for the 2005 BBC production of My Family and Other Animals, starring Imelda Staunton.
Sally and Simon travelled to Jersey in June with the rest of their team to meet Lee, tour the Wildlife Park and see The Gerald Durrell Story, the exhibition of Gerald’s life and achievements that opened in the Park in 2013. Unsurprisingly, they enjoyed their visit, Sally writing to Lee soon afterwards, saying “You have an extraordinary and very beautiful organisation. We were hugely impressed. It is stunning and the work you all do is quite brilliant.”
L to R: Christopher Hall (Producer), Sally Woodward Gentle (Executive Producer), Lee Durrell, Simon Nye (Screenwriter), Sam Symons (Script Executive), Fred Weston-Smith (Team Assistant).
The series is based on Gerald’s three books about Corfu: My Family and Other Animals (1956), Birds, Beasts and Relatives (1969) and Garden of the Gods (1978). It will focus on his mother, Louisa, whom he always described as the ‘lynchpin’ of the family. ITV released its first announcement about the series in June 2015, setting the scene:
“Louisa’s husband died years ago, she is in financial difficulties and her four ‘unruly children’, Larry, Leslie, Margo and Gerry, are growing up. It is the 1930s, and a woman’s options are limited. Her solution: to move the family from Bournemouth to Corfu.
“There are worse places to rescue a family - an island fringed with warm, azure sea, the land teeming with wildlife and offering an abundance of oranges, lemons, olives and kumquats. They discover friendship where they least expect it while they struggle to overcome near poverty, the language barrier and the occasional pang of homesickness.
“But Louisa’s biggest challenges come as ever from within the family. Bright and courageous but realistic, she knows they will bring most of their crises with them, and add a few more. Budding writer Larry hasn’t stepped up to be the man of the house and his cutting sense of humour and lack of filter often creates havoc. Leslie, with a mother complex, is fascinated by guns almost as much as he learns he is fascinated by girls. Margo is a walking bundle of neuroses until feminism stirs; while Gerry is endlessly inquisitive about animals and people. Happy to spend hours staring at beetles on a wall, he can go missing for days on epic nature trails and turns the house into a zoo.”
Louisa will be played by Keeley Hawes (Line of Duty, Ashes to Ashes), Larry by Josh O’Connor (Ripper Street, Peaky Blinders), Leslie by newcomer Callum Woodhouse, Margo by Daisy Waterstone (Silent Witness, Testament of Youth) and Gerry by Milo Parker (Mr Holmes, Ghosthunters). The popular Leslie Caron, best known for starring in musical films of the 50s, such as An American in Paris and Gigi, will play the Countess who befriends Margo. Well-known Greek actors have been cast as the Durrell family’s Greek friends – Spiro, Theo and Kosti.
We will announce the broadcast dates as soon as we know!
Pictured in the headline photo left to right: Margo, Nancy, Lawrence, Gerry and Louisa.
Posted 18 August 2015