ITV’s new drama The Durrells could bring a gentler feel to Sunday nights

The series based on Gerald Durrell's memoirs is reminiscent of 90s hit The Darling Buds of May, says Mark Jefferies

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Big Sunday night dramas are now a TV tradition.

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Many feature shocks, sex or have viewers reaching for the tissues as they get teary over the plot. I’m thinking of recent hits like Call the Midwife, War and Peace and Deutschland 83.

Another thing these all had in common was the potential to be tough or uncomfortable viewing at times. And even Downton Abbey regularly had death or disaster around the corner.

Well that can’t be said for ITV’s new big hope The Durrells.

Based on Gerald Durrell’s classic trilogy of Corfu memoirs, including the much loved story My Family and Other Animals, its cast is led by the wonderful Keeley Hawes as Louisa Durrell.

Single mum Louisa does the unthinkable in 1935 and takes the whole family to Corfu to live.

The results, judging from the first episode, are a gentle mix of family feuds and adventures filmed taking in lots of beautiful animals and glorious locations from the island.

Watching it reminded me a little of The Darling Buds of May, which ran for three series in the early 90s and starred David Jason and a young Catherine Zeta-Jones.

That was set in idyllic 1950s Kent whilst the Durrells is 1930s Corfu, but there are definitely similarities in tone.

And what is certain is that ITV are going for a gentle approach with The Durrells and hoping the whole family will tune in to watch on a Sunday night.

Keeley said at the press screening that there was “nothing” in the show that would stop her from allowing her kids to watch. And mild swear words aside it is good clean fun with jokes and stunning scenery.

It is very early to say how it will fare, but there are more stories if this six-part series works, and I think there is definitely room in the schedules for a Sunday night drama that all the family can sit down together and enjoy. 

Mark Jefferies is Showbiz Editor at the Daily Mirror

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The Durrells starts on ITV on Sunday 3rd April