Hit period drama The Durrells returns to UK screens this weekend.
Season 3 begins at 8pm on Sunday 18 March on ITV.
Here the series’ creator and writer Simon Nye introduces the third season…
“It’s great to be back. We have been allowed to make eight episodes in series three -two more than usual, though admittedly short of Holby City’s 64. Apart from being a vote of confidence from ITV, it has given me a chance to get to know the characters better than my own family. It is our best series to date, and I’m not just saying that.
“Louisa Durrell steers her children through a new set of family crises, faux pas, neuroses and love trials. Gerry is becoming more combative as he bursts the bounds of innocent childhood, despite his mother being in denial. Margo has her first proper job but remains proudly the most “spiritual” and has a chance to prove it. Leslie’s view that “bad things always happen to me” seems true then, delightfully, not true at all until the series builds to a climax… And Larry remains Louisa’s confidante, but a confidante you frequently want to slap.
“This being back in the 1930s, I didn’t want to make too many facile parallels with our current Brexit trauma, but the subject of Europe and our place in it hovers over the whole show. Spiro and Theo love the British, who love them; Lugaretzia, the third leg of the Durrells’ beloved Greek triumvirate, is sceptical about everyone wherever they come from. Leslie, at least, has learnt Greek, whereas Larry and Louisa, convinced internationalists, would rather everyone buckled down and learned English…
“The Durrells, in many ways so very English, are feeling more Greek by the year. Especially after being exposed again to their English relatives and a disconcerting trip back to England.
“Each episode features at least something from Gerald Durrell’s fabulous trilogy. The charismatic Indian guest Prince Jeejeebuoy, Gerry’s beloved wall of insects, Margo’s hobby sculpting soap, Leslie’s burglar-shooting system, Larry’s artist visitors including a frequently naked Henry Miller, and so on.
“I’ve taken other new elements from historical truth, which Gerald left out of his already highly fictionalised reminiscences. Theo Stephanides, when not being a naturalist-poet-raconteur-polymath, was a radiographer, bringing much needed medical help to the island. Margo agrees to work with him, largely because she likes to see men with their shirts off. Leslie was in reality a part-time member of the Corfu police force, despite or perhaps because of his fondness for shooting anything that moves, so in this series he is seen on the beat.
“The political situation in Greece, though too chaotic to be as oppressive as in Germany or Italy, was deeply reactionary. As the only gay goat herder on the island, arguably, Sven falls foul of the new moral conservatism, and needs the politically engaged Larry to campaign passionately but ineptly to get him out of prison.
“One of the main spines of the third series is another element I’ve explored from real life -Leslie’s painful passage to maturity as he falls in love, several times concurrently in episode one. He goes on to discover that sex can have serious consequences, even if, as he protests, “We only did it one and a half times…”
“Louisa’s relationship with Spiro forms the other spine. The attraction is potent but inconvenient -Louisa is in no mood for love after the trouble it’s caused her since being on the island, and Spiro is married with children. But this series sees him and Louisa drift closer and closer together.
“But the show remains light on its feet, I hope. Louisa is happy, or would be if she could just tweak her children to be how she wants them. An episode involving a “perfect” Italian family makes her realise she could do a lot worse.
And we have thrown ourselves into the glorious Mediterranean countryside again.
“Gerry’s perpetual hunt for new and more exotic animals takes him out and about -experimenting humanely with flamingos, tracking down baby vultures, and finding a girlfriend who’s as passionate about animals as he is.
“The wildlife remains a joy – to look at if not to film. It turns out that flamingos are rather highly strung, and make the pelicans look positively professional. We all fell in love with the sloth, and unlike with the other creatures there was no danger that he would make a dash for it -fortunately as we filmed him in England and he would quickly have found himself on notoriously ungulate-averse Ealing Broadway.
“We hope The Durrells will continue to find a large audience, despite its blatant lack of heavy duty crime and procedural bleakness. It is family viewing but hopefully with a bit of surprise and nuance. Come for the sunshine and the animals, stay for the brilliant acting, the reminder that we are all Europeans, and a closing episode featuring a contortionist, magic, and the climax of at least two heartrending love stories.”
Season 1 and Season 2 are available to buy on DVD now.
Season 3 will air in the US later this year on PBS.