TV Highlight,TRAILER and Keeley Hawes interview: The Durrells come sailing back

Daisy Waterstone as Margo Durrell, Milo Parker as Gerry, Josh OConnor as Larry, Keeley Hawes as Louisa and Callum Woodlouse as Leslie.
Daisy Waterstone as Margo Durrell, Milo Parker as Gerry, Josh OConnor as Larry, Keeley Hawes as Louisa and Callum Woodlouse as Leslie.

The Durrells, Sunday, 8pm, ITV

ITV returns to Corfu for more sun, sea and animals in a third series of hugely popular drama, The Durrells.

The Durrells tells the story of Louisa and her four spirited and unruly children, Larry (Josh O’Connor), Leslie (Callum Woodhouse), Margo (Daisy Waterstone) and Gerry (Milo Parker) as they start a new life in Corfu in the 1930s.

In the new series, Louisa has made the decision to give up searching for love, choosing instead to focus on her family. However, with Larry struggling to write his third novel, Margo in search of a new vocation, Gerry continuing to grow his menagerie and Leslie juggling three different girls, Louisa has her work cut out. With an imminent arrival from her Aunt (Barbara Flynn), Louisa hopes that Hermione will be able to help set her children back on the straight and narrow.

In episode one Larry is furious over the reception of his last novel and Margo is bored out of her mind so has taken up soap sculpting as a hobby, whilst Gerry is trying his best to keep his animal family growing despite his mother’s best efforts.

However, it’s Leslie who Louisa is desperately worried about when she discovers that he is seeing three different girls… at the same time.

Concerned that Leslie will get hurt, Louisa takes it upon herself to help him decide who he should pick by visiting each of the girls.

We caught up with star Keeley Hawes...

As you near the end of filming, how do you reflect back on making this third series?

“There’s always a sense of achievement. This time we’ve filmed eight episodes for the first time, instead of six. So along with the tiredness is a great sense of satisfaction that you have made eight hours of television. It’s a lot. And when it’s as good as The Durrells is - which I believe it is - that’s really nice.

“Particularly when you’re back for a third series. You know people like it and everyone has worked out what works and what doesn’t work. I feel we’re all in very capable hands with everyone who makes The Durrells. So, hopefully, it’s just got bigger and better and people will like it.”

Where do we find Louisa when we meet The Durrells again?

“Louisa has decided to give up her search for love and concentrate on herself and the children. Which is not a bad idea judging by her previous involvement with men. The family is still in financial dire straits, but Larry is earning a little bit of money with his writing and some money is trickling in from the market. Even so, they all need to get jobs. Then Aunt Hermione, played by the brilliant Barbara Flynn, comes to visit.”

What is it like returning to Corfu to film another series?

“It’s a second home for us now. When we return to Corfu we don’t need any time at all to get back into the swing of things. Everyone is so brilliant there that we are immediately back to being The Durrells and it all just starts rolling again. “We filmed earlier in the year this time and so we didn’t really have any rain at all. It was spring time and beautiful. I would advise anybody thinking of going to Corfu to go at that time of the year because it’s just gorgeous.”

How do people on the island react to the production?

“People are always very pleased to see us. And now the series has been going for a few years, when people see the production trucks, they know exactly what it is. There’s lots of shouts of, ‘Oh Mrs. Durrell, Mrs. Durrell!’ It’s just very nice. Always a really positive thing.

“Sometimes people have been looking for us. I went to Corfu Airport to go home for the weekend and was queueing to get on the plane when a lady came up to me with her little girl and said, ‘We’ve been searching for you for 10 days and now we’ve found you!’

“I was still fully done up as Louisa Durrell with my hair and make-up because it had been a mad rush to the airport, so that was good for them. People look for our locations, the house and so on, which is very flattering.”

Louisa returns to England for a visit. Tell us about that.

“Louisa ends up having an adventure in London, which was great fun to film. We filmed in Richmond, Surrey, and it rained non-stop for 12 hours. They had booked rain machines but we didn’t really need them. “It was a little odd to be back in England filming as this character, but good to take us back to the roots of this family and it was a lovely contrast to the sunshine of Corfu. As much as we love being in Greece, it was good to have that time at home as well.”

We meet the American writer Henry Miller. Is that inspired by real life?

“Larry Durrell knew Henry Miller and invited him to Greece. In the new series we end up with a naked Henry Miller in Corfu. Trevor White, who plays Henry, took off all of his clothes and just went for it. There was nothing shy about it, which is great. It makes it less awkward for everyone and we were all very grown up about it. It’s very funny.”

Are the animals still stealing scenes?

“We have flamingos this time. They are beautiful. And the pelicans were babies when we started and now they are fully grown birds. We know no-one is going to be listening to anything you say when there is an animal in the scene. We’re used to that now.

“And in this series we also have Frank the sloth. That was quite extraordinary because it’s not an animal you get to see very often. In fact, I don’t think I’d ever seen one before. It’s so unusual - just gorgeous and so cute. However, he was very heavy!

“We had scenes written for Gerry (Milo Parker) sitting with the sloth and moving around with it, but it turned out the sloth was too heavy for Milo. His hands were too small. As were Daisy’s (Margo), so they roped me in - which is why I have a scene holding the sloth.

“It really is an extraordinary animal which, of course, decides to become most animated in the back of someone’s close-ups. Then when you want it to do something, it just won’t move. It was amazing to have that on set.”

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