1 9 9 1 – 1 9 9 3 (UK)
20 x 50 minute episodes
Based on H. E. Bates’s five Larkin books (which began with a novel entitled The Darling Buds Of May), this hugely popular, wholesome series told the tales of a happy-go-lucky rural Kent family in the 1950s.
Here was a family that chortled its way through life, enjoying the simple pleasures of the countryside, and having little time for the stresses of the real world.
Head of the clan was the boisterous Pop Larkin (David Jason), a man of independent means who ran a 22-acre smallholding and earned a bob or two wherever he could. Pop was seldom flustered and usually had an answer for every problem that arose.
His irrepressible common-law wife (they had skipped the formality of marriage), known to all as Ma (Pam Ferris), was a roly-poly, laugh-a-minute character, always at work in the kitchen preparing gigantic feasts for breakfast, lunch and dinner (which Pop liberally doused with ketchup) and snacks for moments in between.
Their six children began with their beautiful eldest daughter, Mariette (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and were generally named after assorted flowers.
In the first episode, Cedric Charlton (Philip Franks), a naive young, poetry-loving Inland Revenue official, called to investigate Pop’s affairs. Befuddled by Pop’s anti-tax logic, ‘Charley’ stayed for lunch, fell in love with Mariette, and never left.
They married and Mariette gave birth to a son, John Blenheim. “Perfick”, as Pop would have put it.
A less subtle American film version of Darling Buds, entitled The Mating Game, starring Debbie Reynolds and Tony Randall, was released in 1959.
Sidney Charles ‘Pop’ Larkin
Cedric ‘Charley’ Charlton
Julie Davies (1)
Abigail Romison (2)