Is the Durrells based on a true story? Find out about the real-life family and their Corfu adventures

12 July 2020, 18:00 | Updated: 12 July 2020, 18:01

The Durrells is based on a true story
The Durrells is based on a true story. Picture: Getty Images/ITV

Who are The Durrells in real life and what did they do after they left Corfu? Here's what we know...

With TV production grounding to a halt during the coronavirus pandemic, ITV is currently replaying The Durrells.

While there are four series of the much-loved drama, the first sees the Durrell family move from England to Corfu in 1935.

But is The Durrells based on a true story? And who were the Durrells? Here’s what we know…

Is The Durrells based on a true story?

The short answer is yes, the ITV show is an adaptation of the book My Family and Other Animals which was written by the youngest of the Durrell family, Gerald.

What happened to the Durrells?

Louisa Durrell, her husband and their four kids were born in India during the British Raj.

Read More: What happened to Spiro in The Durrells, what was his relationship with Louisa and was that the last ever series?

After Mr Durrell sadly died in 1928, Louisa and her three youngest children - Leslie, Margo and Gerald - moved to England, while eldest son Lawrence was already at a boarding school there.

In real life, Lawrence - or Larry - had moved to Corfu with his first wife Nancy by 1935, however, in the ITV drama he was single at the start of the series.

Louisa and the rest of the family then joined him later that year after struggling to make do on a widowers pension.

Gerald Durrell, his mother Louisa Durrell and brother Lawrence Durrell,
Gerald Durrell, his mother Louisa Durrell and brother Lawrence Durrell,. Picture: Getty Images

Gerry became fascinated with nature and kept local wildlife as pets. He later made a close friend in Greek doctor and philosopher Theodore Stephanides.

The friends explored the island together, as well as Theodore’s young daughter Alexia, who isn’t part of the series.

While Larry and his wife lived with the whole family at their house at Kontokali to begin with, they later moved to a tiny fishing village on their own.

Larry had his first semi-autobiographical novel published in 1935, called Pied Piper of Lovers, where he drew on his experiences growing up in British India, losing his dad and being send to school in England.

The Durrells arrived in Corfu in 1935
The Durrells arrived in Corfu in 1935. Picture: ITV

After four years in Corfu, The Durrells left in 1939, when the outbreak of World War II forced them to return to England for safety.

Read More: Who's in the cast of The Durrells? Here's who stars alongside Bodyguard's Keeley Hawes in the ITV drama

Louisa left the island with Gerry and Leslie and their the young live-in maid, while Larry and his wife stayed.

They later had to escape with their baby daughter to Egypt after the fall of Greece.

After returning to England, Gerry worked at an aquarium and a pet store, before founding the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

This is now directed by his second wife, Lee McGeorge Durrell, following his death in 1995.

Gerald Durrell and his wife Lee McGeorge at London Zoo
Gerald Durrell and his wife Lee McGeorge at London Zoo. Picture: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Lawrence travelled around the world as a writer and diplomat. He married four times and settled in France, where he passed away in 1990.

Margo fell in love with an RAF pilot and moved with him to South Africa. The two stayed there for the duration of the war, then moved to Bournemouth where they had two children.

After the pair divorced, Margo ran a boarding house until her death in 1964, while Leslie spent the war working in an RAF factory.

He also had a son with the family’s Corfiot maid Maria Kondos and died in 1983.

Now Read: Where is The Durrells set? Filming locations in Corfu revealed