Sunday, 23 October 2016

Secret References in The Durrells Television Series

Lawrence Samuel Durrell, father of the family who died in 1928.

I have noticed in The Durrells television series several insider references, things that only a very few people of the audience would recognise, a kind of knowing wink - 'We know and you know even if it means nothing to everyone else'.

One of these occurs twice in the first episode when Mother picks up a photograph of her dead husband.  There was no need to show the photograph to the audience and probably no need for it to be really a photograph of Lawrence Samuel Durrell.  But the photograph is shown and it really is the father of the Durrell family, the missing presence which in a sense lies behind their journey to Corfu, a journey of healing.

Margo sunbathing on a rock.
Another insider reference is the scene where Margo goes sunbathing.  In The Corfu Trilogy this happens near Mouse Island off Perama, south of Corfu Town. 
No sooner had Margo landed and arranged herself attractively on a rock then he would come stamping down the long flight of stone steps that led up to the church, shaking his fist at her, and mouthing incomprehensible Greek from the depths of his long, unkempt beard. Margo would always greet him with a bright smile and a cheerful wave of her hand, and this generally made him almost apoplectic with rage.
Margo accosted by the monk.
But in The Durrells television series the scene is filmed not at Mouse Island but in the north of Corfu near Kalami where Larry lived with his wife Nancy. The scene is two coves south of Kalami below the shrine of St Arsenius.

Larry's 1930s photograph of the shrine of St Arsenius.

Readers of Larry's book about Corfu, Prospero's Cell, will recall the shrine of St Arsenius, for it was here that he and Nancy would come to be out of the way, to swim and lie on the rocks unseen.
Causality is this dividing floor which falls away each morning when I am back on the warm rocks, lying with my face less than a foot above the dark Ionian.   All morning we lie under the red brick shrine to Saint Arsenius, droppig cherries into the pool - clear down two fathoms to the sandy floor where they loom like drops of blood.  
I reckoned that my neighbour Simon Nye, the scriptwriter and co-producer of the series, had dropped these references in, so I went round to see him and asked, but he knows nothing about it.  Maybe it was his co-producer Sally Woodward Gentle or, who knows, maybe the cinematographer who slipped in the references without telling anyone that they are there, a one-man secret.