It’s 30 years since The Darling Buds of May, the bucolic family comedy-drama set in 1950s rural Kent and starring David Jason as Pop Larkin and Pam Ferris as Ma Larkin, first aired.
It became a massive TV ratings hit, making a young Catherine Zeta-Jones a household name in the process.
Now the much-loved HE Bates novel on which the series was based has been reimagined for a new generation in ITV’s The Larkins, in which Bradley Walsh and Joanna Scanlan lead a starry cast as good-hearted working-class couple Pop Larkin and Ma Larkin, who live an idyllic life on their Kentish farm with their six children — including the beautiful Mariette, who catches the eye of visiting accountant Charley.
We spoke to Bradley, 61, during a break in filming in the beautiful English countryside to find out what’s in store…
Were you already familiar with the HE Bates books and the 1990s TV adaptation?
"I’ve never read a book! Seriously though, I’d never watched the TV adaptation of The Darling Buds of May, and I’ve never read the books, so I came to this quite blind!"
How would you describe Pop Larkin?
"I live in the countryside in Essex, and I know about three or four Pop Larkins! He’s the sort of bloke who, if you were sitting on your own in the pub, would say: ‘Do you want to come and join us?’ Where his money comes from, who knows? He’s a wheeler-dealer, but not in the sense where you wouldn’t buy a car off him!"
How would you describe Ma and Pop's relationship?
"Pop’s relationship with Ma is that they’ve known each other since they were kids, and they’ve grown up together, they have exactly the same ideals, the same values, the same ambitions, and the same aspirations, they love their family life, they love the farm life and they love life."
Does this seem like the "perfick" time to bring this much-loved family back to TV?
"It’s great to see a family actually getting on, as we seem to see a lot of miserable families on TV these days! This is absolutely the right thing at the moment. We could learn an awful lot from the Larkins!"
The Larkins airs on ITV from Sunday Oct. 10 and will be available on the ITV Hub.
Ian writes about TV and film for TV Times, What’s on TV and TV & Satellite Week magazines. He co-hosts the weekly TV streaming podcast, Bingewatch.
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