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ITV commissions new six-part drama The Durrells

Published: Thu 18 Jun 2015

ITV has commissioned The Durrells, a six part drama series written by Simon Nye
“This isn’t a holiday. We are here to live like local people: in joy and togetherness close to nature.”
ITV has commissioned a new six part series, The Durrells, written by acclaimed screenwriter Simon Nye and produced by Sid Gentle Films Ltd.
The Durrells is based upon Gerald Durrell’s classic trilogy of Corfu memoirs including the much loved ‘My Family and Other Animals’.
The story focuses upon Louisa Durrell whose life is in meltdown. Her husband died years ago and his money has all but run out. Her four unruly ‘children’ Larry, Leslie, Margo and Gerry are going off the rails. Gerry, 11, is about to be thrown out of school; Larry is a would-be novelist but the worst estate agent in Bournemouth, and the middle two are hitting adulthood like a car-crash. It is the 1930s, and a woman’s options are limited.
Louisa realises she can carry on struggling, marry someone comfortably off but oppressive, or make a radical change and escape... from a domestic pressure-cooker, British weather, uptight Englishness and narrow horizons. This is a rescue mission to somewhere her family can heal itself before it’s too late.
She tells them she is taking them to Corfu. There is fighting and outright refusal, especially when they find out there is no electricity - how dare she drag them off to a Greek wilderness. But Corfu is cheap, and an untamed paradise.
There are worse places to rescue a family - an island fringed with warm, azure sea, the land teeming with wildlife and offering an abundance of oranges, lemons, olives and kumquats.   They discover friendship where they least expect it while they struggle to overcome near poverty, the language barrier and the occasional pang for ‘pudding island’.
But Louisa’s biggest challenges come as ever from within the family. Bright and courageous but realistic, she knows they will bring most of their crises with them, and add a few more.  Budding writer Larry hasn’t stepped up to be the man of the house and his cutting sense of humour and lack of filter often creates havoc.  Leslie, with a mother complex, is fascinated by guns almost as much as he learns he is fascinated by girls.  Margo is a walking bundle of neuroses until feminism stirs; while Gerry is endlessly inquisitive about animals and people.  Happy to spend hours staring at beetles on a wall, he can go missing for days on epic nature trails and turns the house into a zoo.
Not that Louisa herself is perfect. She drinks too much and has a temper. She is not too proud to break down and weep. Only in her 40s, she says she is happy to be single, but nobody believes her…
Set in 1935, each of the episodes will be written by Simon Nye (Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This, Just William, Men Behaving Badly). The Durrells will be produced by Sid Gentle Films Limited and executive produced by the company’s founder, BAFTA award winning filmmaker Sally Woodward Gentle (Whitechapel, Any Human Heart, Enid). Sid’s Managing Director Lee Morris (Da Vinci’s Demons, Any Human Heart, The Jury) will also executive produce together with Simon Nye.  Christopher Hall (Critical, Dracula, Murder on the Home Front) will produce the series.
“Gerald Durrell’s novels are some of the warmest, wittiest, books of the last century.  It is no wonder they are so well loved.  It is a real treat to be working on them with the brilliant Simon Nye.  I hope that his obvious love of the characters and the material will be hugely infectious,” said Sally Woodward Gentle
ITV’s Director of Drama Steve November and Controller of Drama Victoria Fea have commissioned The Durrells.
“ The Durrells is a rollercoaster, adventure drama,” said Steve. “The characters are struggling with the eternal dilemmas of family life when Louisa sets her heart on moving to Corfu. It’s a unique and engaging drama and we’re delighted to be working with Simon Nye and Sally Woodward Gentle once again,” he added.
Filming will take place in Corfu from September 2015. Details of casting will be announced closer to commencement of filming.
Note to Editors:
Sally Woodward Gentle formed Sid Gentle Films Limited in September 2013 to produce original and innovative television drama and feature films.  Prior to setting up her own company, Sally was Creative Director of Carnival Films responsible for the production of Whitechapel, Murder on the Home Front, The Last Weekend, Any Human Heart and Enid.
The Gerald Durrell classic trilogy of novels includes: ‘My Family and Other Animals’, ‘Birds, Beasts and Relatives’ and ‘The Garden of the Gods’.