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Behind the scenes of The Durrells

The Durrells Photo: ITV

Fly to Corfu, they said.

Meet the cast and crew, they said.

Do it all in a day, they said.

Go on then, I love a challenge, I said.

And that was it, my ten hours in Corfu, watching an incredible cast and crew, on a scale like nothing I'd ever seen before, filming what they and I hoped would be ITV's new hit drama series.

And this Sunday we'll find out, one way or another, what viewers think.

It's a re-telling of the childhood life of Gerald Durrell, the man who wrong the bestselling novel My Family And Other Animals - a semi-biographical account of his formative years in the Greek isle. This, long before the idea of opening a conservation park in Jersey was on anybody's mind.

Getting up close with the wildlife Credit: Ian Wylie

What a story, and what an experience to see his childhood being brought to life.

Filming "proper" drama is a serious, slow and laborious affair.

A mass of technical crew, wardrobe people, make-up artists, runners, extras, minders, PR types, and then there's the actors - all assembled in Corfu town where a scene was being filmed on the day I arrived.

A whole square in the town was closed off for articulated lorries, an outdoor canteen, and a mass of cables, lights and other technology.

Bit by bit, as minutes turned into hours, the scene was shot. Multiple takes from different angles, all ready to be knitted together in the finished product.

Capturing the action Credit: Ian Wylie

Everybody I met was so friendly, there really did seem to be a sense of purpose, community and positivity on set. When I put to star-of-the-show Keeley Hawes, who plays mum Louisa Durrell, that the sense was this could be a big hit, she didn't want to tempt fate, but the glint in her eye told you they had a good feeling about it, too.

I got to visit the ramshackle villa that was once the Durrell's family home, and came face to face with a pelican (well-trained, top actor!), and had about 10 minutes to take in the beauty of Corfu. The proof of the pudding is, of course, the finished product.

The first of the 6-part series starts this Sunday at 8pm on ITV.

See the second of Gary's special previews here.

See the third and final of his special previews here.

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