'No one is going to listen to you if there's an animal in the scene too'
Sunday nights are about to get a lot cosier with the return of The Durrells. The show's stars tell Gemma Dunn what we can expect
It's time for more sun, sea and animals as ITV returns to Corfu for a third season of The Durrells. The much-loved mini-series, written by Simon Nye and based on Gerald Durrell's trilogy of books, follows the story of Louisa (Keeley Hawes) and her four spirited and unruly children, Larry (Josh O'Connor), Leslie (Callum Woodhouse), Margo (Daisy Waterstone) and Gerry (Milo Parker), as they up sticks to start a new life abroad in the 1930s.
Since it first aired in 2016, this feelgood Sunday fare has hit the right notes.
Marrying gorgeous locations with family drama, the show's viewers last saw Louisa, who relocated to the Greek island from Bournemouth following the death of her husband, split with Hugh (Daniel Lapaine) after refusing his offer to return to the UK together.
As for the children: Margo found her first love in Zoltan (Merch Husey); Leslie's heroic midwifery deed earned him good fortune with the ladies; Larry returned home having ended his affair with Vasilia (Errika Bigiou); and Gerry remained hell-bent on boosting the otter population in Corfu.
So, what can we expect from the show's latest run?
"Louisa has decided to give up her search for love and concentrate on herself and the children, which is not a bad idea judging by her previous involvement with men," reveals Hawes (42).
"The family is still in financial dire straits, but Larry is earning a little bit of money with his writing and some money is trickling in from the market. Even so, they all need to get jobs.
"We have flamingos this time. They are beautiful. And the pelicans that were babies when we started are now fully-grown birds.
"We know no one is going to be listening to anything you say when there is an animal in the scene, too. We're used to that now.
"In this series, we also have Frank the sloth. That was quite extraordinary because it's not an animal you get to see very often."
"We took this boat out with a little motor and we went in the middle of the ocean between Albania and Greece," recalls O'Connor (27). "Then all of the camera department and everyone else got off this sailing boat and went away. They filmed me from a distance. So, I found myself in this weird position where I don't know how to sail and I'm stuck alone in the middle of the ocean. I was totally isolated. There were a couple of hairy moments, but that was probably one of my favourite scenes ever to film."
"As we start the new series, Leslie is probably in one of the happiest situations we've seen him in so far," notes Woodhouse (24). "He's playing the Casanova of Corfu a little bit, balancing his time between three girls, but, obviously, in typical Durrells' fashion, the family get involved and it all goes terribly wrong.
"But, as the episodes play out and you start to see Leslie's reasoning, you can empathise with him a little bit."
"Margo has ditched her boyfriend and still hasn't got a job after leaving the Countess at the end of series one," declares Waterstone (23). "So, she's being the normal Margo, trying to find new hobbies, and gets into soap-sculpting. She does all these new bizarre things until she finally manages to find a job in an X-ray unit and also as a part-time nanny. She's become very adaptable and figured out what it is she is good at and the things she can do. It's just her growing up, really."
"It was very organised chaos, but very good fun," quips Parker (15), of the intensive scene.
"Especially my act, which involves pelicans, a donkey and a seagull," adds the actor, who previously starred in Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. "A travelling circus would have been the pinnacle of entertainment back then. It would have been fantastic for the locals to see."
"Most dramas set in that period are about impending war - The Durrells are far from that, but there's a definite nod to it in this series," reasons O'Connor.
"The Durrells are a bunch of immigrants who are accepted, generally speaking, into this community. Just as we, as a group of actors and crew, have been accepted into Corfu life with open arms.
"And maybe that's a nice message to people that we can be like that and that's a really positive thing."
The Durrells, ITV, Sunday, 8pm