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Welcome to the home of The Larkins

"Larkin by name, Larkin by nature". Lusty, loving and gloriously happy, Ma and Pop Larkin are the unconventional family at the heart of ITV's new adaptation of H.E.'s comic novel, The Darling Buds of May.

Take a look in our dedicated 'The Larkins' menu for exclusive information and cast interviews (coming soon!) and in News & Events for the latest updates.

Darling Buds of May First Edition

About The Story

H.E. was fascinated by a junk-yard, next to a beautiful bluebell wood, not far from his home in Kent. One summer evening he and Madge stopped at a village shop next to a ramshackle lorry that had recently been painted a violent electric blue. Minutes later a large family came out of the shop, full of laughter, eating ice creams and crisps, and piled into the truck; they were exactly the inspiration H.E. needed for his junk yard. The next day he began writing The Darling Buds of May in, as he described it later, ‘a fever of excitement and laughter’.

Darling Buds of May photo


The story was first published in America in 1958 and was an immediate success. H.E. wrote to friends: "I have never in my life had such reviews…we are naturally in what is called a tizzy of excitement.” Later that year MGM turned it into a film starring Debbie Reynolds, with the title 'The Mating Game', and the following year a stage adaptation opened in London. H.E. loved his Larkin family and went on to write 4 more novels about them. In 1991 his son, Richard Bates, produced a hugely successful television series starring David Jason, Pam Ferris and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The Larkins’ secret is in fact that they live as many of us would like to live if only we had the guts and nerve to flout the conventions.
- H.E. Bates
He 1948

Did You Know?

  • The title of the book comes from Shakespeare’s sonnet no. 18
  • H.E. loved writing the books and could be heard laughing as he wrote them
  • Pop’s favourite word is ‘Perfick’
  • H.E. named Ma and Pop’s eldest daughter after one of his favourite flowers: a beautiful pink tulip called Mariette