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Wednesday 31 August 2016

The Durrells

I was drawn to the ITV miniseries The Durrells by the promo, in which actor Josh O’Connor, playing a young Lawrence Durrell on Corfu in Greece in the mid-1930s, bangs away at a Corona 3 portable typewriter.
"Use  a bloody pencil!" yells James Cosmo as the drunken, dissolute seafarer Captain Creech from downstairs. We've had a few creepy Creeches around here, too
The O'Connor-Durrell character is mercilessly thumping at the Corona's keyboard in utter frustration because his dopey, gun-wielding brother Leslie has chopped off the X key. Leslie can't bear to hear any talk of sex, particularly when it comes to Lawrence's ideas about the needs of their widowed mother Louisa, and has cut the X key to stop Lawrence typing the word sex.
The six-part drama series started last week and, based on what I was able to see of the first episode between ad breaks, I will probably stick with it to the end. Commercials seemed to cut in every four or five minutes, however, and that might well get to me before much longer.
The Durrells is based on Gerald Durrell's three autobiographical books about his family's four years on Corfu. Gerald Durrell (1925-1995) is a 10-year-old when the story begins. He went on to become a famous naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist, author and television presenter. 
In later life Lawrence Durrell used an Olympia Splendid portable typewriter. These photos were taken by Loomis Dean for a lengthy feature article on Durrell ("The New Four-Star King of Novelists", by Nigel Dennis) which appeared in LIFE magazine on November 21, 1960. "Lawrence Durrell, creator of the superb 'Alexandria Quartet', has burst from poverty and obscurity to wealth and fame."
Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) was indeed a successful novelist, poet, dramatist and travel writer, and his most famous work remains the tetralogy The Alexandria Quartet (1957-1960), particularly the first of the quartet's four novels, Justine.
Josh O'Connor explained that he had tested out typing on the Corona without the X key after filming had started. "I took it back to my hotel room to have a go on it, and got a complaint from the next door room about the noise – 'Can you please shut up? Use a laptop!'"


Rob Bowker said...

When the series aired earlier this year it reminded me of a holiday in Jersey and a trip to his zoo. The tamarins had the run of the place and took every opportunity to rifle visitors' picnic bags!

David Lawrence said...

Lawrence Durrell was one of the iconic pantheon of Anais Nin, Henry Miller, and Blaise Cendrars; all mucking in and creating some of the most brilliant writing of the 1930s. There is some fine representation of the era in the movie "Henry and June"

Cheyenne Morrison said...

The typewriter was supplied by "The Typewriter Man" in the UK who writes...

"There were actually three machines - one for close shots, one for general shots
and one machine from which I had to remove the 'X' keylever, linkage and typebar.
Of course, for the purposes of the plot they are all the same machine !"