The island – TV series about leper colony in Spinalonga

scene from the TV series "To nisi"

The Island – A Best Selling Book becoming a TV series

the island victoria hislop“The Island”, one of the best seller books in 2009 is about to become a TV series for Mega Channel.

The homonym TV series is based on the novel “The Island” (To Nisi in Greek) written by the British writer and journalist Victoria Hislop, whose patent love for the island of Crete and her engaging writing have captured approximately 850,000 readers just in the UK. The rights of the book were sold to more than 17 countries.

The renowned script writer Mirella Papaoikonomou took over the difficult task to adapt the book for the TV, creating a new TV series, expected to be the most expensive production ever made in the history of the Greek TV programs. The ambitious project is estimated to cost 150,000 euros per episode, and will be completed by the second half of 2010, ready to launch in the 2010-2011 TV season.

Some of the most known actors and actresses will participate in the TV series, enhancing the popular interest for the TV series; some of the names already known and confirmed are Stelios Mainas, Katerina Lechou, Aimilios Cheilakis and more. More than 150 actors and equal number of supporting actors will compound the cast. It is also estimated that the costumes used in the series will be approximately 2000.

What is “The Island” about?

The Island is a story about love and pain, separation and fear. It is a fictional story based on true events and conditions regarding the island of Spinalonga in Crete.

The story of the book takes place on the island of Spinalonga, during its years as a leper colony. The story weaves true facts or events and fictional characters creating a gripping result, documenting the history of the island.

spinalonga island
The main character is Alexis, a woman trying to find details about the life of her mother Sophia, which remains a secret. Her efforts to find out the truth lead her to Spinalonga and the opposite fishing village of Plaka, where she finds out that the life of her ancestors is indispensably connected with the leper colony. Her journey to Crete brings her to some old family friends who narrate the story of her family through three generations.

The family story is backed by details about the relationship of two sisters, Maria and Anna who are though quite different, playing diverse roles in the tale and the book.

Spinalonga and Plaka

Spinalonga is a small dot on the map, located off the Northern Coast of the island of Crete. Spinalonga is very close to Elounda and boats take thousands of tourists to this island – fortress, which became a leper colony from 1903 to 1957.

Plaka, the fishing village had nothing to do with the leper colony, but the facts prove that the two places were actually pretty much associated, relying heaving the one on the other.

spinalonga the lepers island
Leprosy was a loathed disease, because according to the religion, it was a disease of the unclean and cursed people, thus, many lepers were sent to Spinalonga, living as exiled people under terrible conditions.

Of course, during the 50s when Medicine discovered that leprosy is actually the result of bacteria, the disease became treatable and not so feared anymore. It was then that Spinalonga stopped being the “lepers’ island or prison”.

The inhabitants of Plaka, during these 50 years of the colony, were earning their income from the leper colony, creating a rather unusual and fearsome bond with the lepers.

The island of Spinalonga is deserted nowadays. There are no people and the silence echoes heavily all along the place, reminding even today the painful years and the uncanny conditions and atmosphere of their lives on the island.

When visiting the island of Spinalonga the abandonment and desolation are evident, however, it feels as if the people who lived there have left something of their aura behind.

27 thoughts on “The island – TV series about leper colony in Spinalonga”

  1. If anyone is still looking for DVD’s of this brilliant series, I’ve just obtained them from Joanna Fournari who posted a comment on here in 2013 offering them. Any proceeds made from the DVD sales goes to charity.
    I’m onto episode 14 and I can honestly say, this series is heart wrenching.

    • Hi there I’ve been trying to get the DVD of the series for so long.I live in western Australia but have been to spinlonga three times now and have read the book countless times.I love Crete especially agios nikolous so just waiting to save enough to get back again .any help with the DVD would be appreciated .thanks

  2. Please, please how can I watch the series of the Island? We visited SpinaLonga on holiday, I have read the book and am now desperate to see the film or tv series

  3. Hi Virginia,
    my wife has just come back from Spinalonga, the island, and read your book. She is very passionate about this story and wants to buy your dvd set of the story in british subs.
    Can you please help me get this for her ive tried every where


  4. We have obtained a dvd of the series and are half way through the series. An exceptional piece of work that has captured what it must have been like in the days of the colony -the way it affected the individuals who contracted leprosy their families and friend. A truly emotional roller-coaster. We have laughed and cried – exceptional

    • Hi Eileen,
      Having just visited Spinalonga today I wanted to watch the TV series The Island, however, I can’t seem to locate it. So having looked online I see you have obtained the dvd series and I’m wondering if you could let me know how I can get hold of it. I’ve tried googling it and I’m getting nothing. Please can you help? Thank you.

  5. I loved this book so much I booked a holiday to Crete, so I could visit the island. Amazing place and I thought then a film would be so good. Would love to purchase copies of the mini series with sub titles, if they are still available.

    Thanks Olwen.

    • i am very interested, just finished the book and booked a holiday to visit the island, but before going would love to see the dvd.
      please contact me if you still looking to sell?

      many thanks

    • Really really would like a copy of The Island dubbed in English or subtitled in English. Anyone have a copy I could buy????

    • Joanna, I have tried to email you but it has come back undeliverable. Do you have a new email address and do you still have copies available please? Many thanks

  6. After visiting the island and then reading the book, i would love another visit to Spinalonga. Also I would love to get hold of a copy of the film.

  7. Hi everyone.
    I started watching this brilliant TV series last night and stayed up until midnight as it was so compelling. However on trying to return to the series today, I find it’s now been deleted due to copyright issues. Am really disappointed and wondered if any one knows how the series can be obtianed please???

  8. Wonderful book, wonderful story. Have just been to Spinalonga to see where Victoria Hislop created this great book.
    If you have not read this, do it! You won’t want to stop reading it.

  9. Having just spent a week overlooking Spinalonga and reading the book. It was brought to life by the amazing knowledge and obvious love of Crete and the area of Plaka.
    We were lucky to have visited Plaka on the day they were filming the new TV series and were included as extras, can’t wait to see if we have made it to the final version!
    Will be defininately reading “The Return” too.

  10. The TV series “The Island” began on Monday in Greece. I was anxious to see it because I am one of the extra’s in it.
    I am so pleased for Victoria and Im sure the TV series is going to be a block buster. It has been a fantastic experience and an honour to have worked with the stars. Everyone has worked so hard especially the producers.
    We thank you for the oportunity of working with you even though we are only a couple of the extra lepers :)

  11. What a great book! I felt I was on the island too.
    Visited Spinalonga and book descriptions really came alive as walking round.
    Can’t wait for the dvd and film, hope its out soon
    Im sure it will be a smash hit with all who love Crete and more!


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