I was lucky enough to attend the official press event ahead of the upcoming ITV adaptation of The Durrells starring Keeley Hawes. The whole first episode had everyone captivated from the moment it started. In my opinion this series is set to be the next big hit for ITV and is a real treat for all the family. Alexis Georgoulis plays Spiro Hakaiopulos, Corfu’s Mr Fix It, a loud and confident Anglophile who spent several years in Chicago and has the automobile to prove it. Alexis shares his thoughts about starring on the show. The Durrells can be seen on Sunday evenings at 8pm on ITV from from April, 3rd.
How did the role come about?
I live in Los Angeles and Athens. I had to come to Greece for family reasons and knew I would have to stay here for some time. So I decided to try and figure out what was happening in London because it’s much closer to Greece. I got an agent there, the audition for The Durrells came up and I became friends with the casting director Gilly Poole. Then I was sitting on a bench in London by the Thames with a friend of mine. A tourist was passing by and said, ‘You’re Spiro?’ I said, ‘No, not yet.’ It was like, ‘How do you know that?’ It turned out he was from Cyprus and had seen another TV show I did where I played a character also called Spiro. So I thought, ‘That’s a sign!’
Had you read Gerald Durrell’s Corfu Trilogy?
I wasn’t familiar with the story of the books. I didn’t know the Durrells spent that much time in Greece and did all those things for the Greeks and the Corfiots. But now I’m part of it. Now I’m part of the family!
Who is Spiro?
Spiro is the Mr Fix guy in Corfu. Spiro knows everyone and everyone knows him. So he is just the right person at the right moment to help the Durrells when they arrive and need help. The first time he meets the family he has a positive feeling about them, wants to help and they develop a good relationship. He shouts and bargains with people on the island for a better deal for the family. This is just the Greek mentality and their expression. The weather, the landscape, the language, everything creates bigger vibrations. So you’re resonating with the environment. It’s Spiro’s way of expressing himself. He likes and admires the British and their culture very much. Especially the people, who he sees as polite and trustworthy. He has a wife and two children but we don’t see them. There is a special connection between Spiro and Louisa, although not in a romantic way. He respects her as the mother of this family and wants to help her. He is an old fashioned guy. Spiro lived for a while in the United States, in Chicago, and brought back an American car which he drives. The car we use for Spiro was made in 1929 and I drive it for real. Obviously it’s different to a modern car but you get used to it and I like it very much. As long as the camera is rolling I am this guy Spiro and he can drive the car.
What is Spiro’s relationship with the Durrell children?
He becomes one of their father figures in a way. Because their real father is dead and his place is empty. The family needs people who are positive and want to help. One of them is Spiro.
The rest of the cast say you get recognised everywhere they go here in Corfu, as a famous face in Greece?
Yes, I’m well known in Greece and I do get recognised in Corfu. So that’s good for Keeley because they don’t bother her. At least not yet.
What has it been like filming in Corfu?
You definitely have to film The Durrells in Corfu. It’s the real location and exactly what we need to tell their story. The Greek government want to make this a more film friendly country and I hope that will happen. There is a historical link between Corfu and Britain. It wasn’t just by chance the family decided to come over here. English people travelled here a l ot and some stayed and made their home in Corfu. There is something powerful that kept them here. I think Corfu will be very happy if this series shows people in Britain what a wonderful island this is to visit. The local people have asked me what we’re filming, what the story is and what channel it will be screened on. And when I told them it was about the Durrell family they were very excited because that will help the island. It’s a happy story and the Durrells are very well known here. The series show s just how beautiful Corfu is.
Would this series translate to Greek TV?
It’s a very nice TV series and very suitable for Greek TV. I don’t know if they have the money to buy it nowadays. But hopefully they will give them a discount so the people of Greece can see this show.
Gerald Durrell went on to create what is now the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey. Have you visited?
I wanted to go to Jersey before we started filming but there just wasn’t enough time. But I plan to go in the future.
What has it been like working with a British TV production?
It’s quite different compared to the Greek and American productions. I feel as if every country has a specific way of filming and working. But the bottom line is we have a common, universal language. There are a lot of things that are different and a lot that are the same. It’s like music. When the musicians from different countries play together, the first notes are exploring, ‘Ah, you play like this?’ But after a while they play together as a team. I would love to work on more UK shows. I’m thinking of moving to London. I have a tiny problem. I can’t stand the cold in the winter. But I think you have very nice coats, yes? So I can overcome that.