Classic TV Revisited: The Darling Buds of May

First broadcast: 1991

Stars: David Jason, Pam Ferris, Catherine Zeta Jones and Philip Franks

Based on: The books by HE Bates and adapted by the late author’s son Richard and Bob Larbey

The lowdown: Pop (David Jason) and Ma Larkin (Pam Ferris) lead idyllic lives in the apple blossomed Kent countryside that always seems to be bathed in golden sun. They own 22 acres of land and somehow manage to live off it in considerable splendour despite never paying their bills.

Food is never far away and the Larkins have immense appetites, they even eat while sharing a bath. In series one they are visited by a tax inspector (Philip Franks) who tries to determine exactly how Pop makes his living. He soon falls for the considerable charms of Mariette, played by Catherine Zeta Jones in her breakthrough role.

Memorable moments: Pop Larkin’s many observations, such as his praise for France:
“Yeah, well Paris – France, the same thing. Not just because of l’amour and le manger but they’ve got a place there called Cognac. Now, any country that can name a town after a drink can’t be all bad. That’s what I reckon anyway.”

Trivia: The title is taken from Shakespeare’s 18th sonnet. The line reads: “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May/and summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”

The Kent farm at which the series was filmed opens to the public for one day every year. You can see Pop’s yellow Rolls-Royce and blue Chevrolet truck among several hundred other pre-1950 vehicles.

David Jason won a British Comedy Award for his performance. Officially though Yorkshire TV regarded the series as a drama, not a comedy.

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.