What happened to the original Darling Buds Of May cast? From underwear model to Countdown star & petrol station worker

MORE than 20 million people tuned in each week to watch the sweet Larkin family’s rural adventures in The Darling Buds Of May – but after the show ended things didn’t go "perfickly" for all of the cast.

Next month a remake of the popular drama, The Larkins, will air on ITV with Bradley Walsh starring as beloved patriarch Pop.

The Chase presenter, 61, told The Sun he “was born to play this part” despite having big shoes to fill, following on from acting legend Sir David Jason. 

The Darling Buds of May first aired 30 years ago and most notably launched the career of Catherine Zeta-Jones, who became a Hollywood star.

However, while the Welsh actress shot to superstardom, not all of the Larkin family had such a lucky ride after the show ended in 1993.

From fame and fortune to crippling illness, academia and underwear modelling, we look at the varied fates of the original cast of The Darling Buds of May.

Petrol station job

Montgomery, played by 20-year-old Ian Tucker, was the only son of the Larkin brood and starred in 13 episodes.

In the show he overcame bullying at school and faced challenges while training at the Naval College to join the merchant navy. 

Off-screen, Ian had struggles of his own due to being born with cystic fibrosis and went through a rigorous medical regime that required him to take up to 40 tablets a day.

In 2001, the Sunday People reported that his acting career dried up after parts in Touch Of Evil and Pie In The Sky following The Darling Buds Of May coming to an end.

Ian, who sang in a rock band, ended up working as a petrol pump attendant on £150 a week after his health deteriorated.

Despite falling away from the limelight, he reflected fondly on his time on Darling Buds Of May and said he “regretted losing touch with all of the cast”.

Ian, now in his late 40s, added: “In particular I missed Abigail who played Primrose, I really fancied her but never had the guts to ask her out.

“I was determined to make as much of my life as I could because of my illness and Darling Buds really helped me with that.”

I missed Abigail who played Primrose, I really fancied her

The young star, who was born in Northop, Wales, studied English and was nominated for a poetry award in 2013, according to the Daily Post.

While he was unable to act anymore due to his condition he found new hope writing prose and the “occasional open mic event”.

Ian added: “Appearing in Darling Buds of May was a great thrill, it was a wonderful series to be involved in and was so popular with viewers.”

Art therapist hopeful

Victoria Larkin, who was named because her character was born during the Victoria plum season, was played by Stephanie Ralph.

She was the youngest daughter of Pop and Ma’s clan and delighted in nothing more than winding up her sisters.

Stephanie, now in her late 30s, was eight when she starred in the show and after it came to an end, she went back to school to take her GCSEs.

She was due to enrol in a Visual Arts degree at the University of East Anglia in 2001 in the hope of becoming an art therapist for children with special needs.

In between her studies, Stephanie worked at her local pub in Great Chart, Kent, and was regularly mocked for her short-lived acting career.

Little is known about what happened to her in recent years but she previously said: “In the end, I decided acting wasn't for me.

"It's hard to explain why, I just didn't fancy it.

“When I see them all on TV I tell my mates, 'I've worked with them,' [but] they just tell me to shut up and make a cup of tea!”

Underwear model

Rebellious teen Primrose Larkin was played by two actresses – Julie Stitchbury for the first season and Abigail Rokison for the rest of the show.

The production told Julie they no longer needed her services after six episodes and after that she found “there was no work” for her in the acting world. 

By 23 she'd become an underwear model and also had an office job at Pearson TV.

Julie, now in her early 40s, said: “I'm disappointed I never made it big but at least I can console myself that I'm still working in TV."

University lecturer

As for Abigail, she went on to study drama at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) – and later studied for a doctorate.

She had a small part in The Bill but soon moved into academia, becoming a lecturer at Cambridge University for seven years until 2012.

For the last nine years, the former teen star – now in her mid-40s – has been a lecturer in Shakespeare and Theatre at The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford. 

In 2001 she admitted being “a nationwide sex symbol” at the age of 17 – after seducing a vicar in the show – was difficult because in real life she was “really quiet and shy”.

She's now married and mother to a little boy and still enjoys performing.

Countdown star

Timid tax inspector Cedric "Charley" Charlton, who was played by Philip Franks, now 65, seduced Catherine Zeta-Jones’s character in the drama.

But away from the cameras he was rather dismissive of the show and argued it had not benefited him in any way.

He said: “Darling Buds made no difference to my life. And what's Catherine Zeta-Jones done since? Not a lot.”

He continued to act and appeared in Foyle’s War, Casualty, Heartbeat and Midsomer Murders as well as making a cameo in Absolutely Fabulous.

In recent years Philip’s been a regular in Dictionary Corner alongside Susie Dent on the Channel 4 hit Countdown and is an accomplished theatre director.

Doctor & journalist

The increasingly mischievous Zinnia and Petunia Larkin were played by real-life twins Christina and Katherine Giles, now both in their 40s.

Despite being “recognised in supermarkets” and while “walking down the street” on a regular basis, Christina was “never tempted to pursue an acting career”.

She studied biochemistry at Leeds University and became the global health editor at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Katherine reflected fondly on her time on set but admitted: “I never wanted to act, I always wanted to be a doctor.”

She fulfilled her dream after studying pharmacology and medicine at university and lives in London with her husband James and two daughters.

While the twins didn’t continue down the acting career path, they honoured their 40th birthday in 2019 with a Darling Buds Of May themed party.

Harry Potter star

Established actress Pam Ferris, 73, played caring mum Ma Larkin in the show and has since savoured a number of other impressive roles.

She starred in Matilda, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, Call The Midwife, Rosemary & Thyme and much more.

After filming the final season of the ITV hit, Pam admitted she didn't really keep in touch with the cast apart from Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Although their friendship allegedly hit a rough patch in 2008.

I've effectively been sending apology messages for nearly 15 years

Pam claimed to have sent messages to Catherine through their mutual friend Danny DeVito but “never had a message back”, according to the Daily Mail.

Pam claimed their fallout happened because she was invited to the A-lister's film premiere but never showed up. 

She said: “I think it was Zorro – but my car got stuck in terrible traffic. 

“It was a royal première and you're not allowed to be late, so I had to miss it [and] I've effectively been sending apology messages for nearly 15 years.”

Hollywood A-lister

Mariette was the eldest Larkin child and it ended up being a breakthrough role for Catherine Zeta-Jones.

She went on to bag a number of Hollywood film roles including ones in The Mask Of Zorro, Traffic and Intolerable Cruelty – and continues to act to this day.

Catherine, 52, married Michael Douglas, 77, in 2000, which caused a stir because he was 25 years her senior – but the pair are still together and have two children. 

National treasure

Sir David Jason melted hearts as adorable father Pop Larkin and has continued to win over the country ever since. 

He reprised the role of Del Boy in Only Fools And Horses, landed the detective series A Touch Of Frost and has had countless other parts.

In 2005, Sir David was knighted for his services to acting and comedy as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Last year, the 81-year-old released a new memoir A Del Of A Life: Lessons I’ve Learned.

The Larkins starts at 8pm on October 10th on ITV.

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