History Files

THE DARLING BUDS OF MAY

 

The rural adventures of warm-hearted junk dealer, Pop Larkin, and his large family proved irresistible viewing through the spring months of 1991. The series was bathed in a warm glow of idyllic summer sunshine in a tranquil countryside setting, where it seemed nothing bad could happen. The first series stuck rigidly to H E Bates original stories, with only the final story being left out for use when the Darling Buds was eventually to be brought to an end, some time in the future (this was never used on television, but was instead broadcast as a BBC Radio 4 play, in 1997). The series broke all previous ratings records for a programme of its kind, easily gaining 20 million viewers each week, and topping the ratings charts.

Series two was mostly by modern script-writers, and to a certain extent it showed. The stories were more of a reflection of the 1990s than the 1950s, with a hint of realism creeping into the Kent paradise. The actress playing Primrose was changed, as the original girl was thought too young to play the more romantic role the character was given. Despite this extra layer of grit, the series remained a great joy to watch, and as ever it captivated the nation's attention. Season One was repeated on 12th August to 16th September, on Wednesday evenings at 8.00pm.

By the third series, the producers had realised their mistakes of the previous year, and the formula had returned to the simpler, more tranquil style of the original stories.

 


REGULAR CAST

Pop Larkin David Jason   Ma Larkin Pam Ferris
Charley Philip Franks   Mariette Larkin Catherine Zeta Jones
Brigadier Moray Watson (Except Season 3, Eps 1 & 2)
Montgomery Larkin
Ian Tucker (Not Season 3)
Oscar Larkin (Ma’s baby)
Ross Marriott   Edith Pilchester Rachel Bell
Primrose Larkin Julie Davies (Season 1 only), Abigail Rokison (from Xmas Special 1)
Petunia Larkin
Christina Giles   Zinnia Larkin Catherine Giles
Victoria Larkin Stephanie Ralph   Angela Snow Kika Mirylees (Not Season 3)
John Blenheim (Mariette’s baby)
Daisy May Bates (from Season 2)

 


Creator: H E Bates adapted by Bob Larbey
Producers: Robert Banks Stewart
  and Richard Bates (Season 1) Peter
  Nerris
(Xmas Special 1 and Season 2)
  Simon Lewis (from Xmas Special 2)
Music: Barrie Guard


Season One

The Darling Buds Of May

(A 2-part story)
A tax inspector calls. Mr Cedric Charlton, or Charley as he is swiftly re-Christened, is chasing down Pop Larkin for persistent non-payment. However, when Charley is persuaded to join the huge Larkin family for dinner, and meets the beautiful Mariette, eldest of the Larkin offspring, he is bewitched and is easily cajoled into playing truant from the Inland Revenue (which isn’t surprising). Enjoying an idyllic spring in the Kent countryside, Charley joins the family on a strawberry-picking expedition and slowly comes to appreciate all of Mariette's charms, as the two fall in love. A local gymkhana, which Mariette wins, proves to be the final catalyst. During one of Pop's uproarious "cocktail" parties that evening, they decide to marry, much to the huge pleasure of Ma and Pop. Charley's long-weekend introduction to the pleasures of country life with the Larkins is rounded off with a toast to Ma's own good news that she is pregnant.

Salesman Raymond Mason
Jack Woodley Rowland Davies
Mrs Peele Tricia Thorns
George Carter Paul Williamson
Freda O’Conner Windy Williams
Miss Borden Joy Shelton
Sir George Bluff-Gore Michael Culver
Lady Bluff-Gore Richenda Carey
Mr Shell Peter Gale
Mrs Hall Shirley Cain
Pauline Jackson Anna Skye
Poll Arbel Jones
Lil Jane Wood

Director: Rodney Bennett

When The Green Woods Laugh

(A 2-part story)
Preparations for the wedding of Mariette and Charley are well underway. However, events take a slight setback when Corinne Perigo, who has for a while been chasing Pop, and many other suitable men, is rebuffed by him. When she sees Pop and Pinky Jerebohm in an accidental embrace, she advises Pinky to take the matter to court. Luckily for Pop, his brother Percy works in a well-known London hotel. There, he has seen Corinne Perigo before.

Sir George Bluff-Gore Michael Culver
Lady Bluff-Gore Richenda Carey
Mr Jerebohm John Grillo
Mrs Jerebohm (Pinky) Susie Blake
Uncle Perce Arthur White
Corinne Perigo Celia Imrie
Mr Shell Peter Gale
Mrs Hall Shirley Cain
Bertie Fanshawe Ian Price
Countess Czernikov Jane Downs
Rev Spink John Carlin
Ingrid Harriet Harrison

Director: Robert Tronson

A Breath Of French Air

(A 2-part story)
A wet summer has dampened the Larkins’ high spirits, so they decide on a summer holiday. Well, Ma decides on it and Pop has to be persuaded. Despite a shaky start in pouring rain and a run-down hotel, they and the rest of the large Larkin family enjoy the holiday. Pop is taken for an English "Milor’" by the French, while Ma plans the celebrations for the first wedding anniversary of Charley and Mariette. Unfortunately, Mariette has been enjoying the sight of strapping young French lads playing on the beach, and Charley is far from pleased.

Mlle Dupont Anna Massey
Monsieur Mollett Charles Kay
Iris Snow (Angela’s sister) Judy Clifton
Gerard Brisson Geoffrey Greenhill
M Gammelin Peter Symonds
Mme Gammelin Marilyn Taylerson
Sebastian Laurent Hannequin
Marc-Antoine Christopher Harrington

Director: David Giles

 

 

Christmas Special 1

Christmas Is Coming

w Richard Harris
Charley’s surprise for a pregnant Mariette nearly has disastrous results as they move house. Victoria’s discovery of escaped convict Tommy Mason brings unwelcome attention from the police. But the escapee isn’t even dangerous, so Victoria manages to persuade Pop, masquerading as Santa for the Christmas gathering in the village, to help out.

Tommy Mason Ian Bartholomew
Betty Mason Tilly Vosburgh
Mrs Farley Heather Canning
Doctor Lacey John Ringham
Rev Spink John Carlin
David Mason Murray Bryant
Alice Mason Aimee Bryant
Oscar (intro) Ross Marriott

Director: David Giles

 

 

Season Two

Oh! To Be In England

adapted by Richard Harris
(A 2-part story)
The Larkins prepare for an addition to the family as Mariette takes to her bed (baby John Blenheim is played by Daisy May Bates, great grand-daughter of H E Bates). The Reverend Candy, replacement for the old vicar, manages to attract the eye of a fast-maturing Primrose. He finds himself in two minds about the extra attention, but gains some relief when Ma and Pop decide to have the entire Larkin clan Christened.

Mrs Meredith Phillada Sewell
Cpt Broadbent Robert Lang
Reverend Candy Tyler Butterworth
Russell Jack Chissick
Norman David Battley
Danvers Ian Tucker
John Blenheim (intro) Daisy May Bates
Mlle Dupont Anna Massey
Fruity Pears Victor Maddern
Dennis Nick Raggett
Brian Raymond Trickitt
Pauline Bonnie Sullivan
Steward Neville Phillips

Director: David Giles

Stranger At The Gates

w Paul Wheeler
(A 2-part story)
Charley is jealous when a young blond stranger comes calling. He claims to be from Denmark, and is looking for casual work. After receiving a typically warm welcome from the Larkins, Pieter finds odd jobs around the village to do, helping many of the residents. But once his true identity as a German is accidentally discovered, post-war feeling against him from the villagers forces him to abandon his comfortable lodgings. The Larkins, feeling guilty, search for him, while trying to turn opinion local around. Elsewhere, has Primrose finally found the way to Rev Candy’s heart?

Pieter Benedict Taylor
Rev Candy Tyler Butterworth
Ted Watson William Simons
Mrs Daws Carol MacReady
Mrs Kinthley Sheila Burrell
Mr Duckworth Stuart Golland

Director: James Cellan Jones

A Season Of Heavenly Gifts

w Robert Banks Stewart
(A 2-part story)
It seems to be Pop’s lucky day when he helps an ex-RAF pilot who makes a forced landing in a field. Trouble is, the pilot is now a smuggler, and the company he keeps is not very nice. After a rewarding nosh up at the local, and very exclusive, private club, Pop ends up sitting on a horde of money, but whose money is it?

Wg Cmdr Honeyman Michael Cochrane
Marcus Cope Nicolas Chagrin
Esmond Derek Fowlds
Inspector Jeffries Denis Lill
Barry Mulcrone Jonathan Coy
Fred Michael O’Hagan
Tallowy Wolf Christian
Mrs Kinthley Sheila Burrell
P O Strickland Nick Hobbs
Doctor Carey Stephanie Shonfield

Director: Robert Tronson

 

 

Christmas Special 2

Le Grand Weekend

w Stephen Bill
When Ma and Pop win a surprise trip to Paris, Charley and Mariette are left holding the fort. But will Ma and Pop ever make it as far as the Continent? High winds and lashing rain cause havoc to the air schedules, with their plane being stuck in France. A coach is chartered to take Pop and Ma, and the rest of the trip winners, to a four star hotel. This is followed by a less satisfying trip to a run-down mansion, and dissent begins to stir amid the ranks.

Caroline Lime Isla Blair
Peter Lime John Harding
Greville Andy Serkis
Polly Helen Pearson
Sadie Crimson Gabrielle Lloyd
Gerry Lubbock Charmian May
Cynthia McCracken Amanda Mealing
George Danny McGrath
Tommy John Cater
Mrs Potts Betty Marsden

Director: Gareth Davies

 

 

Season Three

The Happiest Days Of Your Life

w Paul Wheeler
(A 2-part story)
Having the headmistress fall for him seems to be one of the more unexpected results of packing the twins off to a crumbling boarding school. But when Brockhurst College is threatened with closure, Pop springs to the rescue with a whole team of voluntary handymen and helpers, plus a surprise backer in the form of the father of an Indian princess who befriends Zinnia and Petunia. Meanwhile, Mariette and Charley are taking their first tentative steps towards becoming brewery owners.

Miss Jimson Joanna David
Ernest Bristow Michael Jayston
Ron Waggitt Tim Wylton
Mr Dawlish David Collings
Emma Sarah Stocks
Princess Zaria Tara Dean
Tom Sargent Steven Brand
Mr Villiers Ian Barritt
Tony Joseph Bennett
Doreen Gill Callan
Mr Sikkim Marc Zuber
Mrs Sikkim Sudha Bhuchar

Director: David Giles

Cast Not Your Pearls Before Swine

w Barry Devlin
(A 2-part story)
Thinking he’s on to a good deal, Pop buys 200 pigs. Before he knows what’s what, he’s up to his neck in it. He has been conned, unusually, by the smooth-talking beau of Edith Pilchester. He decides the best thing to do is con the crook who conned him. At the same time, one of the workmen involved in the building of the Larkin swimming pool attracts the eye of the fast-maturing Primrose.

George Harran Julian Glover
Vic Godfrey James
Ted Stefano Gressieux
Fred Gino Melvazzi
Roger McGarry Russell Boulter
Mr Ramsbottom Roger Ashton-Griffiths
Mr Sowerby Colin Higgins
Felicity Harran Joanna van Gyseghem
Cathy Suzanne Hitchmough
Jasmine Brown Lynsey Baxter

Director: Rodney Bennett

Climb The Greasy Pole

w Paul Wheeler
(A 2-part story)
When plans for a quarry threaten the tranquillity of the countryside, Pop Larkin elects to fight. But dirty tricks abound, and war is declared. Pop stands for a seat on the rural district council, while Mariette and Charley are off to buy a brewery. Both succeed.

The Brigadier Moray Watson
George Garry Cooper
Freda Battersby Mel Martin
Cpt Robert Battersby David Haig
Ambrose Colum Convey
Ernest Bristow Michael Jayston
Tom Sargent Steven Brand
Marion Winters Rebecca Lacey

Director: Robert Tronson

 

All details are trademarked and copyrighted by their respective producers. All character and location names are also copyright. No infringement of any copyright is intended.
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