Title screen shot
|Written by||Victoria Hislop
|Directed by||Theodoris Papadoulakis|
|Ending theme||"Ise Esi O Anthropos Mou" by Andriana Babali,
"Mavri Petalouda" by Yannis Haroulis
|Country of origin||Greece|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||26 (List of episodes)|
|Production company(s)||TVE S.A., Indigo View|
|Original channel||Mega Channel|
|Picture format||16:9 576i (PAL)|
|Original run||11 October 2010– 23 May 2011|
To Nisi (Greek: Το Νησί; English: The Island) is a Greek television series based on the best-selling English novel The Island by Victoria Hislop airing on Mega Channel. The series premiered on 11 October 2010 to record ratings and critical acclaim. It is one of the most expensive Greek television productions ever with a budget of €4 million.
The series is one of the most expensive television shows in Greek television history with a budget of €4 million. The Island author Victoria Hislop had previously received offers from Hollywood as high as £300,000 for the movie rights to the novel, although she opted instead to grant the rights to Mega Channel for a fraction of the price in return for some artistic control.
Initial thoughts by Mega Channel were to make a film out of the novel, but they finally decided upon a 26 episode television series instead. Mirella Papaeconomou primarily took on the script's adaptation, and with Hislop's permission added stories and characters that do not exist in the novel to make the series long enough for a full season. Hislop actively participated in the entire process with ideas, suggestions, and observations. Thodoris Papadoulakis undertook the direction of the series.
The direction of photography was undertaken by Vaggelis Katrizidakis. Cretan director Thodoris Papadoulakis convinced Mega Channel to keep Athens out of the filming by having the entire series shot on location in Crete, arguing that Spinalonga recreates a natural setting. Filming began in December 2009 and concluded in December 2010, primarily taking place in Plaka, Spinalonga, upper Elounda, and Agios Nikolaos.
Sets portraying the villages from 1939 to 1957 were designed by stage director Antonis Halkias and his colleagues. For authenticity purposes, as many scenes as possible were shot on location in Plaka and Spinalonga, including scenes of the port where the boat from the small fishing village of Plaka arrives, as well as the market streets. Shooting for many of the segments in Old Plaka took place in constructed sets resembling the old village in upper Elounda.
Costuming and music
Xanthi Kontou and Maria Kontodima undertook the costuming for the series. In order to gain an accurate portrayal of the period between 1939 to 1957, Kontou and Kontodima researched the styles for eight months resulting in about 2,000 unique costumes. The principal composer of series' musical score is Minos Matsas.
Based on the novel The Island by Victoria Hislop, the series takes place on the island of Spinalonga, off the coast of Crete, and in the village of Plaka which lies within swimming distance across it. To Nisi tells the story of Alexis Fielding, a woman on the cusp of a life-changing decision. Alexis knows little about her family's past and has always resented her mother for refusing to discuss it. She knows only that her mother, Sophia, grew up in Plaka, a small Cretan village, before moving to London, England. Making her first visit to Crete to see the village where her mother was born, Alexis discovers that the village of Plaka faces the small, now deserted island of Spinalonga, which she is surprised to learn was Greece's leper colony for much of the 20th century. At Plaka, Alexis meets an old friend of her mother's, Fotini, who is prepared to tell her the entire tragic story of her family that Sophia has spent her life concealing—the story of Eleni, her grandmother, and of a family torn apart by war and passion. Alexis discovers how intimately she is connected with the island, along with the horror and pity of the leper colony which was once there.
Cast and characters
There are more than 120 roles in the series, with more than 500 supporting actors.
- Giorgos Petrakis, portrayed by Stelios Mainas, is a fisherman who lives in Plaka with his wife Eleni and two daughters Maria and Anna. In order to make ends meet, he transports supplies with his fishing boat to the island of Spinalonga; One day he is forced to also transport Eleni to the leper colony on Spinalonga, and later his daughter as well. Despite everything, Giorgos maintains hope in the midst of hardship.
- Eleni Petraki, portrayed by Katerina Lehou, is married to Giorgos and is the schoolteacher of Plaka. She has a passion for teaching and cares for all of her students. When she learns she suffers from leprosy and is transported to Spinalonga, she does not lose optimism. She continues to teach children on Spinalonga, despite the negative resistance from some residents. Her meetings with Giorgos give her the courage to continue.
- Maria Petraki, portrayed by Gioulika Skafida (adult), Anastasia Tsilimpiou (child), is Giorgos and Eleni's daughter and Anna's sister; She is quiet, patient, and polite. Like her mother, she always has something to offer, and thus stands to her father and sister's side to fill the absence and void left by her mother in the house. The loss of her mother is hard on the sensitive Maria, but as time passes by happiness returns in her life when she meets and falls in love with Manoli. But all is not as it seems, as destiny holds more pain and challenges for her to overcome, as well as a bigger and more genuine love.
- Manolis Vandoulakis, portrayed by Aimilios Heilakis, is Alexandos Vandoulaki's nephew, son of his dead brother. He grows up with his cousin Andrea as if they were brothers, despite their different personalities. Manolis has a free spirit and quickly abandons Crete in order to travel, while spending his father's fortune in the process. He returns to his homeland and his family, becoming engaged to Maria. But on the eve of their marriage, they separate when Maria discovers she is sick. His feelings for her quickly fade and he falls in love with Maria's sister Anna, who is also his cousin's wife.
- Nikos Kiritsis, portrayed by Alexandros Logothetis, is a doctor at the hospital in Heraklion and also Dr. Christos Lapaki's friend. He begins to visit Spinalonga in order to research the treatment of leprosy. He offers help to Lapaki and they begin giving patients of the island experimental drugs. When he meets Maria, his interest in her becomes personal; along with trying to bring a treatment for leprosy to the island, he gains Maria's heart.
- Anna Petraki, portrayed by Evgenia Dimitropoulou (adult), Ifigeneia Tzola (child), is Giorgos and Eleni's youngest daughter and Maria's sister; She is spontaneous and a wild child. When her mother leaves for Spinalonga, things become even more difficult. She rebels and does not make any effort to support her father and sister. She dreams of leaving the village and the poverty associated with it to live a big life. She realizes her dream when she marries the son of one of the biggest land owner in the area; thus she ends up living a wealthy life, but her unsatisfied appetite for more will lead her down dangerous paths with disastrous results for all.
- Alexis Fielding, portrayed by Evgenia Dimitropoulou, is Sofia's daughter and Eleni's great granddaughter. She is the last in a line of important women that left a mark in their history, and determined the course of events with their presence. Alexis decides to go to her mother's birthplace and search into her own roots. She seeks to find out where her mother Sofia grew up, meet people who grew up with her mother, and learn about her grandparents.
- Andreas Vandoulakis, portrayed by Giannis Stankoglou, is the son of Alexandros Vandoulakis, a rich land owner. When he meets Anna, he is charmed by her instantaneously and passes all obstacles to quickly propose to her. On the surface, their marriage has everything possible to make it a happy one; except possibly the most important thing: genuine love. Anna feels trapped by him, while Andreas can't read his wife's mind and heart. Thus he remains uninvolved and apathetic until the revelation of a terrible truth that will make him react in such a way that will determine everyone's future.
- Sofia Fielding, portrayed by Filareti Kominou (adult), Nefeli Kouri (teenager), Despina Kiapekou (child), is Anna's daughter. She marries Markus (played by Ian Hislop), and has since lived in England for years. She does not talk about her past and her family only knows of her origin but nothing else. Sofia decides at a young age to cut all bridges with the past as she has never reconciled with. A person that keeps to herself, she silently carries the weight of choices that were not her own. She becomes upset when her daughter Alexis ends a seemingly exceptional relationship she had for no apparent reason. She also worries what will happen when Alexis visits her homeland of Crete.
- Foteini Aggelopoulou, portrayed by Olga Damani (adult) Annita Kouli (teenager), Rene Tzola (child), is Maria's best friend. They grow up together since Eleni and her mother Savina are good friends. They share everything, from their food to their secrets. When Maria leaves Plaka, Foteini does not abandon her. She visits her frequently and becomes her eyes and ears in Plaka, also reminding Maria of her old life. Foteini is also the person that unfolds the history of the Petrakis family to Alexis.
- Savina Aggelopoulou, portrayed by Dina Mihailidi, is Eleni's good friend. When Eleni is transported to Spinalonga, she subsequently becomes Maria and Anna's mother figure. Along with her own children Foteini and Antonis, she raises her friend's daughters. She does whatever she can in order to offer them what their mother would, from a home-cooked meal to advice.
- Petros Kontomaris, portrayed by Thodoros Katsafados, is the elected head of Spinalonga. With few means at his disposal, he tries to improve the lives of the residents on the island offering them a decent existence, and for most, a decent death. He does everything that is humanly possible for the island and its residents, but they always want more. His health declines and he does not get the opportunity to see the departure of the cured lepers and the return to their homes.
- Elpida Kontomari, portrayed by Marinella Vlahaki, is Petros Kontomari's wife. She lives on Spinalonga with him and supports him physically and psychologically in his efforts to improve the lives of the residents. She is the second person that Eleni meets on the island, and the person that will help her adapt to the everyday routine and difficulties of life on the island. She is by Eleni's side when she dies, and later on also gets the chance to meet Maria before her own demise.
- Dimitris Lemonias, portrayed by Nektarios Loukianos (adult), Manos Tsagkarakis (child), is one of the brightest students in Eleni's classroom, and also becomes ill from leprosy. The residents of Plaka blame him for infecting the schoolteacher. Eleni leaves with nine-year-old Dimitri for Spinalonga and they live together, where she sequentially becomes his mother figure on the island. She raises him and passes on all her knowledge to him with the result of Dimitris becoming the teacher of Spinalonga later on.
- Elektra Vlahaki, portrayed by Katerina Misihroni (adult), Kallisti Bertaha (child), is Dimitiri's companion during childhood games and later becomes his companion in life. They have a deep and unselfish love that blossoms over the years in a difficult and threatening environment. The beautiful, lively, and tender Εlektra accomplishes to prove that evil loses its force in light of humanity and kindness. Her unbreakable bond with Dimitri inspires the whole island and those around them to help them fight for the right to happiness until the end.
- Christos Lapakis, portrayed by Nikos Orfanos, is the doctor in Spinalonga; At first he begins visiting them periodically, while later he permanently moves there, becoming the only one that accepts to do such a thing. With the meager means that is allocated to the hospital on the island, the doctor does everything possible in order to soften the pain of his patients. He cannot offer a cure, but he can offer them love.
- Nikos Papadimitriou, portrayed by Tasos Nousias, is a lawyer who is transported to Spinalonga along with other lepers from Athens. Dynamic, popular, and counteractive, he is shocked when he discovers the conditions of existence that prevail on the island. When Petros Kontomari's health deteriorates, Nikos Papadimitriou takes the reins in his hands and is elected the new head of the island. He puts all his energy and acquaintances from Athens to use, and soon the residents of the island enjoy privileges that that they could have never even imagine in their wildest dreams.
- Evgenia Kapetanaki, portrayed by Maria Protopappa, is friends with Eleni and also Plaka's baker. Her life in the village is bad, trapped in an unhappy marriage, but her comfort and hope come from her two children. Her fate is similar to Eleni's, and with her heart in pieces, she soon is also transported to Spinalonga when she too becomes sick. Many things await her there at her new exiled home: Troubles, pain, and hardship, but also a sudden big shocking love.
- Antonis Aggelopoulos, portrayed by Orfeas Avgoustidis (adult), Antipas Ntamotsidis (child), is Savina's son, and he grew up with Anna and Maria. Impatient and passionate, he becomes a member of the resistance during the duration of war with the Germans. When he returns, he falls in love with Anna and she initially returns those feelings giving him hope. However, those hopes soon diminish when she marries someone else.
|Albania||AS TV||Premiered on December 12, 2012|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||TV1||Premiered on October 15, 2011|
|Croatia||RTL Televizija||Premiered on January 1, 2012|
|Cyprus||Mega Channel Cyprus||Premiered on October 11, 2010|
|Germany||ZDFneo||Premiered in December, 2011|
|Serbia||RTV Pink||Premiered on February 27, 2012|
|Turkey||ATV||Premiered in December, 2011|
|Hungary||Duna TV||Premiere on July 6, 2014|
|Finland||YLE Teema||Premiered on December 10, 2013|
Impact and reception
Upon its premiere, To Nisi set record ratings for a series with an estimated 3.55 million total viewers tuning in, or 34.9% of the viewing population in Greece. The share rating amounted to 61.7%, meaning approximately six out of every ten viewers watching television at the time were tuned into To Nisi, while also receiving 72.8% share rating in the coveted 15–44 age group. The premiere beat the previous total viewers record of 34.6% set in 1998 by Mega Channel's series Psithiri Kardias. Upon the airing of the second episode, To Nisi beat its own record, receiving an estimated 3.69 million total viewers, or 36.2%.
Critical reception of the television series has been highly positive. During a pre-screening for the press at Athens Concert Hall, the show received critical acclaim. The series is also reportedly being eyed by foreign networks.
Popi Diamantakou of Ta Nea stated that the work of the director and the actors exceeded expectations. Marianna Tziantzi of Kathimerini asserted that the astronomical ratings received for the first episode prove that the series will be the television phenomenon of the year; a title well deserved as it is artistically ambitious during a period of subpar television productions on air. She added that the book- and the television series as an extension- provide an unintentional allegory of our time; speaking of love in a time of crisis and social exclusion. Also commenting on its record viewership and differentiation qualities, Marina Petroutsou of Eleftherotypia pointed out that the public eagerly awaited a quality production, as the networks have been using the economic crisis as an excuse for low quality programs. She also noted that the day after the premiere, many daytime shows covered the series, leading her to believe that it was seen as a means to boost their own ratings. Afroditi Grammeli of To Vima observed that from the first minutes of the series on air, a flow of commentary praising the series broke out across the internet, notably through the creation of three social networking groups on Facebook that accepted thousands of members within the time frame of the premiere. Praise was given for its touching and atmospheric shots, solid acting, exceptional direction, and stunning stage design. Contrastingly, Grammeli also regarded that the mass praise did not come without negative criticism by a minority, who found the series depressing, slow, old fashioned, and overly dramatic.
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- Staff (October 19, 2010). Ξεπέρασε τον εαυτό του "Το Νησί"! (in Greek). Star Channel. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
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- Petroutsou, Marina (October 13, 2010). Ζαπ Ζαπ (in Greek). Eleftherotypia. Retrieved October 13, 2010.
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