The Durrells exclusive! Ulric von der Esch: 'Sven broke his own heart as well as Louisa’s!’

What a finale to The Durrells! Louisa called off the wedding when she discovered Sven was gay. Larry and Nancy went their separate ways. Margo managed to get the Countess outside. Leslie got stung (not bitten) by a scorpion. And Gerry decided not to set his animal collection free.

Reluctant to say goodbye to ITV’s excellent Sunday night drama What’s on TV caught up with Swedish star Ulric von der Esch and quizzed him about Sven the Swedish goat herder’s big secret!

What was your reaction to Sven’s secret when you read the script for tonight’s final episode?

"Good question! It’s always interesting if what you see isn’t quite what you get. It made playing Sven a lot more complex and interesting for me."

So, an added aspect to playing the love-interest character?

"It’s one-dimensional if he’s only supposed to be the good-looking, charming guy. We’ve seen that a billion times before. This made for a much more interesting character, with complexity and depth."

Do you think the audience will understand why Sven wanted to marry Louisa?

"It’s hard to tell. I hope people will understand and accept it; it’s a timeless issue. Although it’s still difficult, it was a lot harder in 1935. Thankfully there’s a lot of acceptance today, but back in the day it was a whole different story."

That heart-to-heart between Sven and Louisa, were they decide not to marry, was heartbreaking for both of them, wasn’t it?

"Yes, Sven broke his own heart as well as hers. I hope people understand why he did what he did. He didn’t act out of selfishness. He really wanted things to work out with Louisa (Keeley Hawes) so badly. Everyone wanted things to work out."

On a less serious note, you’ve had a lot of shirt-off scenes for The Durrells. Did you mind?

"I didn’t have much choice… I had to take it off! It’s always a little bit weird, but you have to let it go and not be self-conscious. Sven’s a farmer; he lives by himself on a small holding and so it's part of his character. But if it was me, Ulric, I think I’d feel kind of ridiculous. I tried not to be too out of shape! I could have been in better shape, but it’s the 30s, so Sven doesn’t have to be this chiselled superman structure. I think I got away with my mediocre status!"

We’d like to see Sven return in the second series. Are you up for it?

"I’d love to do a second series. It was such an enjoyable experience. I hope we’ve managed to catch the essence of Gerald Durrell’s books. He created a fun, sweet world in beautiful Corfu. The chemistry between Louisa and the kids is unbelievable – when we were shooting, Keeley and others were a family from day one. I think it’s been a major contribution to why people have enjoyed the series."

Sunday nights won’t be the same without The Durrells – roll on series two!

If you're finding it difficult to let go check out our videos below with

Keeley Hawes

Daisy and Josh O'Connor

Leslie Caron

and Alexis Georgoulis


Elaine Reilly
Writer for TV Times, What’s On TV, TV & Satellite Week and What To Watch

With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and 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.