What the Darling Buds of May stars look like now – from Charley to Pop and the twins


THE Darling Buds of May was one of the biggest dramas ITV ever aired – and launched Catherine Zeta-Jones on the world as Mariette, the eldest child of the sprawling Larkin family.

Now the show, which beat Coronation Street in its prime, is returning with The Chase host Bradley Walsh taking over as Pop, the role David Jason made his own.

Pop, Ma, Charley and Mariette in The Darling Buds of May back in 1992

Pam Ferris’ role of Ma in the show, which follows the family’s adventures in the Kentish countryside, is being taken by Joanna Scanlan.

But what has become of the original line-up of stars, from Philip Franks’ tax inspector Charley to Petunia and Zinnia, the family’s twins, who were played by real-life twins?

Here, we catch up with the Larkin family’s actors and actresses 30 years after the show first delighted audiences on ITV in the early 90s.

Cedric ‘Charley’ Charlton (Philip Franks)

Tax inspector Charley married Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character Mariette

He fell in love while investigating the eccentric Larkin family
Philip Franks in Channel 5’s David Jason, Britain’s Favourite TV Star this week

Phillip, now 64, was recently seen singing David Jason’s praises in a Channel 5 documentary about him.

He went onto continued stardom in another ITV hit, as Sergeant Raymond Craddock in Heartbeat and has popped up everywhere from Absolutely Fabulous to Countdown’s Dictionary Corner.

The actor is also an accomplished theatre director, directing former co-star David in play A Cold Supper Behind Harrods in 2012.

Ma Larkin (Pam Ferris)

Pam Ferris as Ma Larkin with a goat in The Darling Buds Of May

The actress at a British Film Institute screening in London in 2016

Pam made kindly Florence ‘Ma’ Larkin her own in The Darling Buds Of May and went on to star in, well, just about everything.

She was the ferocious Miss Trunchbull in 1996’s Matlida, mean Aunt Marge in Harry Potter, and even had a scene-stealing role in Gavin & Stacey as Smithy’s idle mum Cath.

The actress, now 72, also fronted gardening/crime drama Rosemary & Thyme alongside Felicity Kendall as the rather-too-perfectly named Laura Thyme from 2003 to 2007.

Pop Larkin (David Jason)

David as farmer Sidney ‘Pop’ Larkin in the ITV drama in 1992

The comedy legend at Cirque Du Soleil in London in January this year

One member of the cast who will need little in the way of introduction is David Jason, already a telly superstar thanks to his role as Delboy in Only Fools And Horses.

The 80-year-old actor carried on playing the wheeler-dealer long before and after the Darling Buds of May, with the legendary sitcom’s increasingly aged cast continuing to churn out Christmas specials until 2003.

He also kept up his role as Inspector Jack Frost in ITV’s A Touch Of Frost until 2010 and took over from comedy hero Ronnie Barker in Still Open All Hours, which is still on air.

Mariette Charlton (Catherine Zeta-Jones)

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Mariette in the Kentish countryside with Charley

The movie star arriving at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles last year

Movie star Catherine’s breakout role was as pretty Mariette, who married Charley in The Darling Buds Of May.

However, she soon grew tired of being cast in generic ‘pretty girl’ roles in the UK. She left for LA, bagging parts in Oceans Twelve, Entrapment and The Mask Of Zorro and as the vengeful pregnant wife Helena in Traffic in 2000.

The 51-year-old actress met movie legend Michael Douglas at a film festival in 1998 and the pair got engaged the following year and married in 2000.

Petunia and Zinnia Larkin (Christina and Katherine Giles)

Christina and Katherine Giles as the Larkin twins for a press shot in 1992

Chrissie is now health editor at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Kitty and Chrissie played Zinnia and Petunia Larkin in all three series of The Darling Buds after answering an advert for “10-year-old black-haired Kentish twins”.

The pair didn’t stick around in acting – but celebrated their 40th birthdays last year with a party themed around the show.

Kitty is now a doctor and lives in London with her husband James and their two daughters while Chrissie is global health editor at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and lives in Guildford with her husband Matt.

Primrose Larkin (Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall)

Abigail as Primrose in a press shot for the drama’s second series in 1992

She is now an author and academic specialising in William Shakespeare

Primrose actress Abigail went from HE Bates – the author of the Darling Buds books – to William Shakespeare.

She bagged a doctorate and moved into academia, lecturing at Cambridge University for seven years before joining the Shakespeare Institute at the Bard’s hometown of Stratford Upon Avon.

Abigail has also been on the board of the British Shakespeare Association and was its chair from 2008 until 2010.

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