The best family films to watch in the BT TV PlayerMay 30 | 2 min read
ITV’s The Durrells followed 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.
The gentle drama was an instant hit with viewers, and the island of Corfu itself became a character in the story with its dusty olive groves, wild countryside, clear blue sea and lots and lots of animals.
As ITV takes us right back to the start of the Durrells’ adventures on the Mediterranean isle with a repeat of series 1 from Sunday, July 5, we take a look at where the programme is filmed.
Where is The Durrells 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 an 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 (above), 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.
Which parts of Corfu does the series visit?
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,” said Josh O’Connor, who plays Durrell son Larry.
“We’re like minor celebrities in that little bay and it’s so nice and we totally get special treatment!”
Milo Parker (below), who stars as budding conservationist Gerry, said of series four: "We actually filmed a lot more towards the north of the island this year in a place called Agios Stefanos where you can virtually touch Albania from the coastline. It was absolutely stunning.
"Whilst other people were waking up at 7am to go to school, I was sunning it out on the beach. You really pinch yourself in moments like that, especially when you’re sitting with all your mates just waiting for the camera to set up and you think, ‘This is just amazing’. I’m really going to miss it."
Alexis Georgoulis, who plays Spiro, said: "The villa is my favourite location but I also love the Sidari area. The sunset is unbelievably nice and there are some beautiful beaches which are not so well-known. There are dirt-roads and the beaches are secret. We would go there and spend our free time having fun and swimming."
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.
Although it is now an archaeological museum, Mon Repos (above) is where Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born. It was at the time a summer residence for the Greek royal family, and the prince 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, a church, narrow lanes and taverns, Danilia Village (below) oozes traditional charm – making it an ideal filming location. In addition to The Durrells, 1981 Bond film For Your Eyes Only was also filmed at Danilia.
What did the cast think of Corfu?
Keeley Hawes said ahead of the show's fourth and final series that she had loved her time in Corfu, and thought of the island as another character in the show.
“It’s so much part of the show. The sunshine and that beautiful Corfu light. The sea and the locations are almost another character. And so it is quite right that we leave with the sun shining."
Josh O'Connor (below) added that it had been tough leaving the island.
"The hardest bit was saying goodbye to the Greek crew because most of them have been with us from the beginning," he said.
"A lot of the crew were from the local area and they’ve come on this journey with us.
“I am going back in a couple of months on holiday though, and we’re all always hanging out. We’re always in contact with one another and that won’t change, but who knows - it’s not necessarily a closed book so we’ll see!"
Callum Woodhouse, who plays his brother Leslie, agreed: "Corfu really does feel like a second home. All of the locals are like our mates now. We could walk into any shop or restaurant and end up having an hour's chat before I even sat down and ordered anything.
"Not only has it encouraged tourism in Corfu but everyone is so lovely and I do think they really love the show as it paints the island in such a beautiful light.
“We all went out for a meal in one of our favourite restaurants in Corfu Town to mark the end of the series. It’s on the harbour, looking out onto the sea and at the end of the meal, Keeley stood up and said ‘Right, we’re all going in the sea!’
"Everyone stood up from the tables and we all followed her into the sea and were swimming about for at least 30 minutes. There were about 40 of us all together and it was very special.”
Milo added: "It's been amazing that my family would come out and we’d have a mini-holiday on the island and spend time with the locals.
"I think I’ve been so lucky to experience such a different culture at such a young age and given the opportunity to go out and live on Corfu for nine weeks of the year. I’m really going to miss it because it’s been an absolute dream.”
Writer Simon Nye said of his four series on The Durrells: "I hope it has inspired some timid families throughout the world to take the plunge and set off for foreign parts to discover something about themselves. It doesn’t have to be expensive - take a big tent! And remember to offset your carbon footprint.
"I also hope the show has encouraged more people to visit Jersey Zoo, presided over by the fantastic Lee Durrell, who is carrying on late husband Gerald’s obsessive work."
The Durrells series 1 begins on ITV on Sunday, July 5 at 7pm.
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