ITV’s The Durrells follows the titular family’s adventures in Corfu in the mid-1930s. In an attempt to avoid the family’s financial problems, widow Louisa Durrell decides to move her family from Bournemouth to Corfu. Louisa decamps with her four children to the Greek island and takes up residence in a ramshackle old house.
As the first two series won over viewers, the island of Corfu itself became another character in the story with its dusty olive groves, wild countryside, clear blue sea and lots and lots of animals.
With The Durrells returning for a third series, we take a look at where the series was filmed.
The Durrells is partly filmed on the island of Corfu – which adds to the authenticity of its locations – while a number of interior scenes are filmed at Ealing Studios.
Corfu is the second largest of the Ionian Islands and is nestled off the very north-west coast of Greece. Its 236 square miles have long been an inspiration to writers, artists and visitors alike.
Known as Kerkyra in Greek, the name Corfu is said to be derived from and Italian version of the Greek word koryphi – which means peaks or crests, referring to the mountainous northern part of the island.
Corfu is perhaps the most British of the Greek islands – thanks in part to its long and storied history. The island has been in the hands of many different powers over the centuries, among them the Goths, the Lombards, the Venetians and Napoleonic forces.
In 1815, at the end of Napoleon’s power, Corfu became a British protectorate. This meant there were a succession of Lord High Commissioners, who governed the island from the Palace of St Michael and St George – which you can still visit.
In 1864 Corfu was handed over to Greece – but the British influence continues in unusual ways. There is even a cricket pitch in the middle of Spianada Square in Corfu Town.
Dassia, an area on the eastern coast of Corfu known for its beach and gardens, is one location used by The Durrells crew.
“In Dassia we know most people there,” says Josh O’Connor, who plays Lawrence Durrell.
“We’re like minor celebrities in that little bay and it’s so nice and we totally get special treatment!”
The opulent home of Countess Mavrodaki – played by Gigi’s Leslie Caron – was filmed somewhere with even more regal connotations. Mon Repos, a large villa located south of Corfu City, was used. Although it is now an archaeological museum, Mon Repos is where Prince Philip was born. It was at the time a summer residence for the Greek royal family, and Prince Philip was the son of Prince Andrew of Greece.
A bay where Margot liked to sunbathe in series one was filmed just south of Agni Bay on the north east of the island. Away from countryside and villas, filming also takes place in Corfu Town.
Danilia Village near Kontokali on the east coast is another location used by The Durrells. Danilia village is a replica of a 1930s Corfiot village restored to its former glory by hoteliers the Daskalantonakis family. Containing village squares, church, narrow lanes and taverns, Danilia Village oozes traditional charm – making it an ideal filming location. In addition to The Durrells, Bond film For Your Eyes Only was also filmed at Danilia.
As new cast member Daniel Lapaine says: “Corfu’s an amazing place to film because basically any direction you point the camera, you’re going to get the most beautiful landscapes and the most incredible shots and vistas that you can imagine.”
Star Keeley Hawes commented: "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."
Her co-star Alexis Georgoulis, who plays Spiro, revealed: “It was like going back home. I don’t know how long The Durrells will go on
for but I know I will go back to Corfu again, no matter what. Because it really does feel like home.
"We get a lot of attention when we’re filming now. Before the first series was screened people recognised me because I’m a Greek actor. Now Keeley Hawes and the rest of the cast are well known because people have seen the series and love it. They are part of the island now.
"The local Corfiots know that every year the cast and crew will be in Corfu, taking a trip back in time with the production. So it’s like we are part of the island now and the local society.
"The Durrells has also been very good for tourism. There has been a great increase in the number of tourists coming, especially from Britain. And the season now stretches over a longer period of the year. Everybody is happy about that. This TV series has nothing but good words to say about Corfu and people can see how lovely it is on screen. Corfu is like a paradise.
"The series is also shown on cable TV in Greece. Many people in Greece now know about The Durrells and love it.”
Speaking about series three, writer Simon Nye said: "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."
Photo credits: SID GENTLE PRODUCTIONS/iTV, Neil Farrin/robertharding/REX/Shutterstock, Grecotel