The Darling Buds of May

Larkin family Darling Buds of MayWhen we were setting up the first series of “The Darling Buds of May” in 1986, we talked a great deal about how we would commission the music for the series.  A shortlist of experienced television composers was agreed and approached to submit ideas.  As one of the producers, I was first to hear them and was puzzled.  Not that there was anything wrong musically I hasten to add, but I thought they had missed the point.  Yes, the series was rural and bucolic and it was this that had apparently inspired their compositions.  Perhaps because I had worked on the project for nearly three years, I saw the “Darling Buds of May” from a rather different perspective.  To me it was above all and indisputably romantic – not just in the love story of Mariette and Charley the tax inspector, but also the enduring love affair between Pop and Ma, so beautifully played by David Jason and Pam Ferris.  I decided to enter an idea of my own anonymously, written as a song with words drawn from H.E.Bates’ original novels.  All the submissions – without any indication of the composers – were put before the Executive Producer at ITV who was asked to choose.  The rest is history, together with the Ivor Novello Award for Best TV Theme tune, which sits on my piano to this day.  You may know the tune, but I doubt you’ve ever seen or heard the words, although the complete song, “Perfick”, was recorded by David Jason for an adaptation on Radio Four of H.E.’s last book, “A  Little  of  What  You  Fancy, ”  which  we  never  got  round  to  making  for television.