Inside The Darling Buds of May cast as reboot The Larkins prepares to launch
The Darling Buds of May ran between April 1991 and April 1993 but only had 20 episodes in total. It starred David Jason as Pop Larkin – catchphrase “perfick” – and Pam Ferris as his common-law wife Ma.
Bob Hoskins, below, was originally considered for the role of Pop but it was felt his film career could create problems.
Part of the reason Jason took the role was because it was a wholesome show at a time when violence on TV was increasing.
Audiences immediately fell in love with it – the debut episode became the first time a new series topped the ratings.
It launched the career of Hollywood superstar Catherine Zeta-Jones, who played the Larkins’ beautiful daughter Mariette.
A whopping 300 girls auditioned for the role.
CZJ was spotted while appearing in musical 42nd Street and it shot her to fame.
She said: “Literally with one hour of television my life completely changed. I couldn’t go anywhere.”
Mariette was wed to Cedric “Charley” Charlton, a tax inspector who arrives to make Pop cough up – but is soon seduced by the charms of life in rural Kent.
Charley was played by Philip Franks, who went on to star as Sergeant Craddock in Heartbeat.
The series was based on HE Bates’ stories of 1950s country life and the fun-loving Larkins, who take joy in nature, each other’s company and constant feasts.
The title of the book is a quote from a Shakespeare sonnet: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?/Thou art more lovely and more temperate/Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May/And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
Another Larkin daughter, Primrose, was played by Abigail Rokison-Woodall.
She is now a lecturer in Shakespeare and Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Despite being a male character, Charley and Mariette’s son John was played by Daisy-May Bates, the grand-daughter of the books’ author.
The rights to the novels were sold to MGM films in 1959 and it wasn’t until 1989 that HE Bates’ son Richard was able to buy them back.
Each one-hour episode took two weeks to shoot and another two months post-production time.
Most of it was filmed in the village of Pluckley in Kent.
Food played a big part in the series and both Jason and Ferris put on weight.
The new cast also includes Bridgerton’s Sabrina Bartlett as Mariette and Grantchester’s Tok Stephen as Charley.
The Larkins starts on October 10 at 8pm on ITV.
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