tue 16/07/2019

The Durrells, Series 3, ITV review - a winter warmer from Corfu | reviews, news & interviews

The Durrells, Series 3, ITV review - a winter warmer from Corfu

The Durrells, Series 3, ITV review - a winter warmer from Corfu

Take a load off with some Mediterranean escapism

Reassuring: Keeley Hawes as Louisa with Alexis Georgoulis as Spiro

When ITV scheduled this new series of The Durrells for mid-March, they probably didn’t imagine it would coincide with the return of the Beast from the East, with its blizzards and plummeting temperatures. Under these deep-frozen circumstances, what could be more reassuring than to batten down the hatches and take a trip to the glittering Mediterranean and the mountains, blue skies and historic architecture of Corfu?

Profundity is not the ambition of Simon Nye’s dramatisations of Gerald Durrell’s books. In our age of knotty and treacherously-plotted thrillers, full of mutilated corpses and conspiracies, The Durrells seems breathtakingly facile and guileless. Its depiction of a straggling family of English eccentrics trying to rub along under the same roof with a bit of help from an assortment of colourful Greek islanders is relentlessly agreeable, and even the heartachey bits are done in a silver-lining sort of way. But I daresay many viewers welcome the absence of the kind of guilt-evoking socio-political issues that find their way into Call the Midwife.

The theme of this season opener was the multiple girlfriends being squired around the island by Leslie (Callum Woodhouse). He had no fewer than three in tow, and his mother Louisa (Keeley Hawes), observing her son’s boundless ardour, was growing increasingly anxious about possible undesirable outcomes. She asked her friend Florence (Lucy Black), herself struggling to get to grips with late-onset motherhood, if she had “any remedy for excess libido?” “Childbirth,” Florence retorted (at home with the Durrells, pictured below).

Louisa took a tour of the island with the obliging Spiros (Alexis Georgoulis), paying a quasi-royal visit to each girlfriend in turn. She wasn’t too keen on the rather too self-confident Daphne (Elli Tringou), and clearly harboured suspicions about the luxuriant baker’s daughter Dionisia (Erifili Kitzoglou). She was much reassured, however, by the demure Tsanta, whom she encountered lighting a candle in her local church. She was cheered still further by Spiros’s assessment: “Tsanta is a sweet peasant girl who keeps her knees together,” he reported.

It all came to a slapstickish head when the ladies simultaneously converged (unwittingly) on Chateau Durrell, but happily, and despite the Greek location, a solution of sorts hammered itself out without any smashing of crockery. But even if you aren’t interested in the plot, The Durrells has an Attenborough-esque second string to its bow with its supporting cast of animals, all enthusiastically collected and cared for by young Gerry (Milo Parker). Apart from the regular cast of goats, chickens, sheep and rabbits, there was a camera-friendly pair of flamingoes, a pelican, a snake and a gekko.

Keeley inhabits the role of harassed single parent Louisa rather well, trying to project maternal authority but frequently hanging by her fingernails over an abyss of chaos and panic. She greeted the return to Corfu of Aunt Hermione (Barbara Flynn) with relief, and Hermione obligingly served up the perfect soundbite: “Good parenting isn’t about meddling in your children’s lives, it’s about loving them.” Sweet!

Even if you aren’t interested in the plot, 'The Durrells' has an Attenborough-esque second string to its bow with its supporting cast of animals

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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