“I’m going to say a bad thing,” says Spiro to Louisa Durrell, as they share a drink at a pretty Corfu bar. “When you’re here, with me, I miss my children more than my wife.” The words hang in the air.
The Durrells’ Greek taxi driver has been in a state ever since his wife left him and moved to Athens, taking their two children with her. But there is one upside to being suddenly single: he can reveal his long-suppressed feelings for English widow Mrs Durrell (Keeley Hawes).
By the end of series three’s penultimate episode, they’re declaring, “Let’s live dangerously” and, “I feel lost without you” while holding hands and staring in the sunset. Is romance finally in the air?
“It’s very interesting actually, because I had this impression, or this fantasy, with Louisa from the first season,” Spiro actor Alexis Georgoulis tells RadioTimes.com.
“And finally on the third season I can find paths that can lead us closer, and express them as well.”
In real life, Louisa and Spiro never got together – or at least, there’s no mention of a relationship in Gerald Durrell’s memoir My Family and Other Animals. But from the very beginning of the ITV drama, Georgoulis has been rooting for them to fall in love.
“I didn’t know why, but I just had this desire, this feeling,” he explains.
Despite his hopes for a romance storyline, the actor didn’t want his character to cheat – so he was relieved that Spiro’s wife left before he tried anything with Louisa.
“When my wife left me, I felt relieved because I could see that something was cooking,” Georgoulis explains, speaking on behalf of Spiro.
“And I felt very weird because I am married, I am with my wife and two children, and it was very weird to get closer to Louisa. And when my wife left me I felt happy: like, OK, now it can happen!”
Taxi driver Spiro immediately took the Durrells under his wing when they arrived in Corfu, finding them a villa to live in, buying groceries and going to war with the Customs agents on behalf of them. “Policemen, peasants and priests waved and smiled as he passed, fishermen, grocers and café-owners greeted him like a brother,” Gerald wrote.
That’s a lot like the version of Spiro we see on screen – but with this romance storyline, ITV’s drama is taking his character in a new direction.
“First I thought, are we going against the real story? Or against the book?” Georgoulis admits.
“But it’s something that is going out of the book, and not against the book, so it’s an option, that might have happened. Gerald didn’t write anything about that, but in between the lines you can fill it with your imagination and not be disrespectful to the writer. And on the other hand, you can be interesting for the audience.”
But the big question remains: will Louisa fall for Spiro?
Though Georgoulis reckons she was “flattered” by Spiro’s attentions from the moment the family arrived in Corfu, it is only recently that she has seriously considered her feelings towards him.
The turning point came when, in series three, Spiro started spending most of his time with another foreign family: the Italians.
It led to a furious and jealous row, but also made Louisa realise just how much she needed Spiro in her life. Or, as Georgoulis puts it: “A butterfly woke up in her stomach.”
Just don’t tell Gerry the butterfly enthusiast…
The final episode of The Durrells airs on Sunday 6th May at 8pm on ITV