The rag-tag family, headed by their warm sympathetic mother (Imelda Staunton) experience the joys of living a life of freedom and adventure.

Intrepid biologist, 12-year-old Gerald (Eugene Simon), acne-infested Margot (Tamzin Merchant), gun-loving Leslie (Russell Tovey) and overbearing intellectual Larry (Matthew Goode) make up the bohemian Durrel family.

For Mother especially, the experience is emotionally moving as she watches her youngest child Gerald grow up more and more each day.

Through the eager ministrations of a larger-than-life taxi-driver Spiro (Omid Djalili), who himself has a soft spot for Mother, the family move to a succession of different coloured villas.

While Gerald explores the glorious landscape, the wildlife it has to offer and befriends the local population, Mother has other ideas: fearing her son is growing too wild, she is determined that he receives an education.

Gerald's moral as well as more conventional education is put in the hands of three very different young men, two of whom are more distracted by Margot's flirtatiousness than by Gerald's zoological enthusiasm.

First of all there's George (David Armand) who loses out to Margot's new, over-confident Turkish boyfriend; and then Peter (Tom Goodman-Hill) a caddish young man who is happy to leave Gerald writing by himself while he pursues Margot at any cost.

Of more lasting emotional importance for Gerald though is Theodore Stephanides (Chris Langham), a biologist and witty raconteur who is young Gerald's link not only to the marine and insect life that Corfu has to offer, but also its rich cultural beauty too.

Spending so much of his time in the garden and fields watching one sort of the animal kingdom in their natural habitat allows Gerald to learn more incisively about the habits of an altogether different genus: his family.

But news of home and the imminence of the Second World War lift the veil of magical innocence felt by the whole family as they leave their beloved Corfu an emotionally richer family than the one that arrived.

Cast: Eugene Simon (Gerald Durrell), Imelda Staunton (Mother), Omid Djalili (Spiro), Tamzin Merchant (Margot Durrell), Matthew Goode (Larry Durrell)

Director Sheree Folkson

UK 2005