The Durrells – ITV 1

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I enjoyed this a lot more than I was expecting to! Maybe it was all the sun, sand and scenery. I remember there being a BBC 1 adaptation of My Family And Other Animals back in 1987, but I didn’t watch it … although I do remember the theme tune very well, because I always used to catch the last couple of minutes of it when I switched on the telly to watch Dynasty, which was on after it! I’m afraid I haven’t read the book either, so I don’t know how true this was to the book – not very, apparently, so maybe it’s a good job I haven’t read the book.

I’m surprised I enjoyed it, because the Durrells were just so, so annoying! The mum was OK, although she seemed ridiculously young to be the mother of the older children, but shouldn’t she have done something about getting Gerry an education, and done a bit more about the annoying older boys than keep saying “Oh, darling”?! And how come Larry’s girlfriend was allowed to move in with them? It was the 1930s (although it could really have been any time, with no references to world events or even British or Greek politics, nor to the Durrells’ time in India)! Why didn’t her dad come after Larry with a shotgun?! That bit wasn’t true, because Larry and Nancy were in fact married; but they weren’t in this series, and it didn’t seem very realistic.

Larry and Leslie both really needed a good slap. What a pair of spoilt brats! Why didn’t they go out and get jobs? And Gerry was quite sweet, but, if the series was based on his books, that sounds as if he presented himself as being sweet and his siblings as being annoying, which is rather annoying in itself. The best one was Margo, who started off being an annoying spoilt brat like Larry and Leslie, but got her act together and turned into a rather nice person.

The supporting cast, by contrast, were great. The “Brits abroad” thing came across quite well, and with plenty of comedy moments, but without either the British or Greek characters being stereotyped. The Durrells were great as well – annoying, but very well-acted. There’s been some controversy over the fact that a gay character was initially presented as being heterosexual, and actually became engaged to Louisa Durrell, but the last episode showed the marriage being called off after Louisa realised that he was gay.

It was quite an old-fashioned programme, really, apart from the crudity of some of it – seriously, was it necessary for Louisa’s children to spend so much time going on about her needing a man?! It’s the sort of part drama, part sitcom series that used to be so popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s and which sadly seems to have fallen out of favour. I’m puzzled as to why ITV have decided to scrap Home Fires and Indian Summers, but I’m glad to hear that this one, at least, will be coming back for another series.  Not bad at all

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