Ulric von der Esch: ‘I came in as a nobody... Keeley is the star of The Durrells!’

What’s on TV caught up with Swedish star of The Durrells, Ulric von der Esch, to get the inside story on Sven's proposal to Louisa, playing the accordion, and how to work with goats!

The actor reveals his pig-chasing secrets and why his real-life neighbours complained about his preparations for ITV’s hit Sunday night drama…

Louisa Durrell’s had an unconventional courtship with Swedish goat herder, Sven. Why has he been blowing hot and cold with her?

"Initially Sven has been reluctant to let Louisa in. He feels this attraction, there’s something about this woman and it’s taken him a while to accept that. But now he realises there’s something special about Louisa he wants to explore that further…"

But to propose last week and then announce in this Sunday’s final episode he wants to get married in two weeks' time! Why is he in such a rush?

"Sven’s not over-analysing things. This feels right and he’s going with it – and not taking too much into consideration what other people think!"

In this Sunday's final epsiode we'll see the Durrell kids interrogate Sven. Does he win them over?

"They want to make sure Sven’s intentions are right so they bombard him with questions! It’s a really sweet scene and I really enjoyed filming it. They love their mother and care for so much they want to make sure the man stepping into Louisa’s life after their father is worthy of her. Sven manages to get their seal of approval!"

We can’t help thinking there’s more to this story. Has Sven got a secret?

"There's so much more to Sven than meets the eye. Louisa (Keeley Hawes) is definitely the first woman to have an effect on him since he moved to Corfu. But he doesn’t realise the others think he’s rushing the wedding. If there’s a secret behind him, it will come out one way or another!"

Have you enjoyed working with British star Keeley?

"It was fantastic! She’s the star of The Durrells. I came in as a nobody from Sweden and she was very generous. Keeley is so helpful and nice, it was a pleasure!"

Working in Corfu isn’t a bad job, either!

"Corfu is beautiful. I’d never been there before. Everyone on the island was so friendly to these crazy people coming to shoot a TV show!"

With Sven being a goat herder, how closely did you have to work with the goats?

"On a number of scenes there was direct animal interaction! I got to acquaint myself with them and an experienced crew member taught me how to behave with both goats and donkeys. They say [don’t work with kids or animals], but we broke both those rules."

Were there any animal mishaps?

"Once the pig escaped and kept running around! We had to catch him and lead him back. Fortunately I’m a lover of animals so I enjoyed the whole experience."

Do you play the accordion in real life?

"I play other instruments, so when I found out I was going to play the accordion in The Durrells I learned the basics from a guy in Stockholm. He’s a really good accordion player and taught me the two songs I play in the series!"

Did your neighbours mind the noise?

"They started banging on the wall and clearly weren’t impressed! So I went out into the countryside and sat by myself like an idiot playing the accordion for hours on end until I learned the songs!"

To find out what Sven’s hiding and whether he and Louisa walk down the aisle, watch The Durrells on ITV at 8pm on Sunday.

For more behind-the-scenes news on Louisa and Sven’s whirlwind engagement watch our video with Greek star Alexis Georgoulis, who reveals what Spiro has to say about it!

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 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.