Barbara Flynn joins The Durrells: 'The family moved house to avoid Aunt Hermione – she's formidable!'
Barbara Flynn appears in ITV hit period drama The Durrells this Sunday as bossy Aunt Hermione, a lady who causes no end of trouble for the family.
The Cracker and Cranford star chatted to What’s on TV about her guest role in the show...
What impact does Aunt Hermione’s arrival on Corfu have on the Durrell family?
"Aunt Hermione is pretty formidable. She’s a strong, instructive woman, who thinks she should be in charge of everything to do with the family. Initially Louisa tries to explain to her children that Hermione is an important figure in her life, and that they should try with her no matter how difficult she is!"
Was she based on a real person?
"Aunt Hermione wasn’t largely portrayed in Gerald Durrell’s book My Family and Other Animals. She’s very much been taken from one page where it was said she was coming to visit them so they moved house to avoid her! That’s been our springboard for her."
The Durrells is a real ratings hit for ITV. Why do you think that is?
"It's such a joy to watch on Sundays at 8pm. The youngsters (Milo Parker, Daisy Waterstone, Callum Woodhouse and Josh O’Connor) as I call them are just superb. It is enchanting TV!"
Did you enjoy working in Corfu?
"I loved it. I came from doing High Society at the Old Vic, and I was thrilled to be part of this, as I loved the books. And it’s such a pedigree with the people involved. Technically there were a lot of problems, as there can be when you’re in an environment that isn’t a film studio. But I didn’t have any problems at all. I thought it was absolutely glorious."
Even though there were some problems?
"The difficulties of working abroad are always completely counteracted by the fact you’re having a wonderful time. But it always comes down to the script. It doesn’t matter how glamorous a place; even if it’s Scunthorpe in the middle of winter with constant rain and mud up to your knees - if the text is good, it’s a joy. Hopefully we’ve done a very good service to the travel agents because it looks wonderful. It really was heaven to work there."
Did you have many animal encounters?
"I didn’t really. Aunt Hermione does get quite close to a stork. She has a scary car ride with Louisa. She really is having a terrible time! She’s also brought a dreadful duo with her – Cousin Prue, played by Felicity Montague (Alan Partridge and Doc Martin), and her husband Geoffrey (Hollyoaks’ Jeff Rawle) are hysterically funny!"
You’re only in this one episode, but is there any chance Aunt Hermione could return in the second series?
"I don’t know, but I’d absolutely be interested. It was a joy and I’d love to work with those delightful people again. They’re perfect company, and The Durrells deserves to fly like a bird!"
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With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and www.whattowatch.com covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.
As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast.
After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.