Sunday 20 October 2019

The Durrells and Men Behaving Badly creator issues plea for more family drama

Simon Nye wants to see more than a ‘succession of actors looking grim, suicidal or simply furious’.

Keeley Hawes (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Keeley Hawes (Isabel Infantes/PA)

By Sherna Noah, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

The creator of The Durrells and Men Behaving Badly has called for more “family drama” on TV instead of “murder, rape and pillage before our bedtime”.

Simon Nye’s warm and gentle Corfu-based programme, starring actress Keeley Hawes, has been a huge hit since it first aired in 2016.

Based on conservationist and author Gerald Durrell’s trilogy of books from the 1930s, the show is returning to ITV for a fourth and final series.

Nye, who penned the series, said it was “the right time to stop” the period drama.

“The family were in Corfu for four years, from 1835 to 1939, so who are we to outlive them?” he said.

But the writer, who also created Men Behaving Badly, issued a “plea to have more – for want of a better term – family drama on our televisions”.

“It doesn’t have to be folksy or anodyne, it just has to not have a succession of actors looking grim, suicidal or simply furious as they murder, rape and pillage before our bedtime,” he said.

His comments come after a series of shows sparked controversy over their levels of violence.

Game Of Thrones, Luther, The Handmaid’s Tale, Killing Eve and Troy: Fall Of A City all contain scenes of gruesome brutality.

Nye also said the Greek island setting for The Durrells made the show “overwhelmingly a cross-cultural success story”.

“We drama-makers are all rushing to shoehorn in Brexit-related comment but The Durrells is thematically right there already,” he said.

And he added he “would have loved to bang the drum more for language-learning and the European dream but tragically everything isn’t about me, and subtitles do alienate some viewers.”

Meanwhile, Hawes, whose matriarch character Louisa Durrell is now running a high-grade guesthouse, said filming the final scene was “emotional”.

“We knew it was the end. That was very sad. It was quite tricky to hold that together,” she said.

Callum Woodhouse, who plays Leslie Durrell, one of Louisa’s children, told how the cast and crew marked the final day of filming.

“We all went out for a meal in one of our favourite restaurants in Corfu Town to mark the end of the series,” he said.

“It’s on the harbour, looking out on to 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 was about 40 of us altogether and it was very special.”

PA Media

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