The Darling Buds of May was one of the most beloved television shows of the 90s. Set in the Kent countryside in the 1950s, the charming comedy drama was based on HE Bates’s novel series and followed the life of the characterful Larkin family. Featuring a young Catherine Zeta-Jones as eldest daughter Mariette, it’s often regarded as having been the Hollywood star’s breakout role. And now it could be set to shoot another young talent to new heights of fame, with Bridgerton’s Sabrina Bartlett having been cast as Mariette in a remake of the show.
Bartlett is already a familiar face on the small screen, particularly in the period genre, known for her roles in Poldark, Victoria, Knightfall and – most recently – as the bewitching courtesan Sienna Rosso in Bridgerton. The Radio Times quotes the English actress as stating that she was ‘really REALLY excited’ to be appearing in the remake, commenting: ‘I can’t wait to bring these heart-warming stories to life alongside such a wonderful team. It’s just the perfect dose of escapism we all need right now.’
She’ll be appearing alongside Bradley Walsh, who’ll play the mischievous Pop Larkin, and Joanna Scanlan, as his wife Ma. A pair already known for their comedic talents, with Walsh a respected game show television host and Scanlan having appeared in shows such as The Thick of It, they’ll no doubt bring plenty of humour to the roles. Tok Stephen (of Grantchester and Holby City) will play the fourth principal character, Cedric ‘Charley’ Charlton – an accountant who descends on the village from the city to investigate the Larkin’s tax affairs, but soon becomes distracted by the beautiful Mariette.
Speaking of the news in a statement, Walsh commented: ‘I’m thrilled to be asked to be part of this much loved and iconic series of stories. The warmth and affection that HE Bates has generated through his books is so uplifting and I cannot wait to be part of the Larkin family. It’ll be a hoot!’ Scanlan added: ‘What better comfort could there be from all we have endured this year than the rolling laughter and outsize hugs of Ma and Pop?… It’s going to be an honour to help bring the Larkins to the nation’s devices!’ Stephen, meanwhile, said that he was ‘thrilled’ to be cast as Charley, stating: ‘I can’t wait to work alongside Joanna, Bradley and Sabrina. I’m incredibly excited. I hope we can impress fans of the original novels with our version.’
The Radio Times reports that the series will be written by Simon Nye, known for Finding Alice, Men Behaving Badly and The Durrells, and is being directed by Andy De Emmony, of Love Bite, West is West and The Nest. Production is set to get underway this year.
The original small screen adaptation of The Darling Buds of May, which takes its name from the third line of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, starred David Jason and Pam Ferris as Pop and Ma, respectively. Along with Catherine Zeta-Jones, the cast also included Philip Franks as Charley. The first episode was broadcast 30 years ago, in 1991, with the third series concluding in 1993.
Like the original adaptation, the show will run on ITV. The channel commented that the remake hopes to encapsulate ‘the warmth, optimism and escapism of the Larkin family for a modern generation’.
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