The novel was written in 1957, and Yorkshire Television wanted David Jason to play Pop Larkin. He had never read the book so he went away and did so before accepting the part, and pronounced it a charming read, as well as lovely, but not much happened and didn't go anywhere. But the characters were strong, especially Pop Larkin, and he would be fun to play. Jason's only condition was to shoot the series on film, because he didn't want it to be a studio production. At least on film, it would look good, and have some quality about it, even if nothing happened.
David Jason put on weight as Pop Larkin because of all the food in the show; bread and ham, cheese, pickled onions, roast dinners, chocolate, etc. It was meant to show the Larkin family's generous spirit and carefree love of life. There were also fried breakfasts cooked fresh on the set on a little stove. The set constantly hummed with the smell of frying bacon, which made the crew drool with anticipation. One day on the set, the shooting schedule meant Jason sat down to breakfast five times, which meant it was piled with bacon and eggs. Jason asked if he could skip the fry-ups, so they switched to kippers, which was just as bad. The extra weight he put on meant he couldn't wear a dinner jacket to that year's BAFTA's that fit the year before. He claimed he looked like Hardy wearing something belonging to Laurel. He had to go on a few months of dieting to regain his former, "sylph-like" weight.
In 2011, Catherine Zeta-Jones invited David Jason to a rented house in Richmond to have Sunday lunch with her and her husband Michael Douglas. It was the first time Jason had seen Jones since she had wed Douglas; they had rented a magnificent property, and Douglas was in the pool playing with their sons. Jason considered him a great Hollywood star but Douglas was very relaxed as he came out the pool, dripping wet in Bermuda shorts and shook Jason's hand. Douglas thanked Jason for being generous with Jones and looking after her on the show. Jason was pleased he thought so.
H.E. Bates took the title from William Shakespeare's Sonnet 18: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate; Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer's lease hath all too short a date".
David Jason was never asked if he wanted to pursue a personal project until the end of the series. He was shocked and giddy at how successful his career had become now; that he could shout the odds on where his career went. When asked what he wanted to do as an actor, he said he loved detective shows, and wanted to play one, which culminated in A Touch of Frost (1992).
In the books upon which the TV-series is based, Ma and Pa Larkin had another child after Oscar; a girl called Phyllida.
David Jason had never heard of Pam Ferris before starring on the show. Ferris was nice and easygoing, which was enough to convince Jason she was right for the role. Jason didn't meet Ferris at the readthrough or rehearsals but at lunch. He described Ferris as "down-to-Earth, which I immediately liked about her, and we relaxed in each other's company very quickly."
Hundreds of actresses were interviewed for Mariette before Catherine Zeta-Jones was cast at the age of 22. Much of her career had been in musical theatre up till then, but being cast as Mariette was her big break. Jones was inexperienced with television, and very nervous in the beginning; David Jason advised her to keep her eyes still while doing dialogue in closeup, something he used to do. He said her Hollywood success was down to his tuition. She managed to play the part of Mariette with just the right mix of innocence and coquettishness. Her stardom couldn't have happened to anyone nicer.
The writers ensured the relationship between Pop and Ma Larkin was at the center of the drama. David Jason described them as "loving, cheeky, generous, trusting".
During the famous scene when David Jason and Pam Ferris share a bath while eating supper, Jason thought about turning up to the set in a frog mask and flippers but couldn't go through with it. Jason and Ferris both wore swimming costumes and the water was colored up to protect their modesty's. Jason considered that scene their icebreaker.
David Jason said Catherine Zeta-Jones was the show's biggest discovery, she was extremely beautiful, you knew the camera was going to love her and she was as lovely a person as she looked.
Location shoots were done in and around Kent in glorious Summer weather. The house had an outhouse and a Tudor barn attached. The interiors were done in the studio in Yorkshire. David Jason felt the genius of the show was blending footage from two different sources.
David Jason said the show was "a high-quality piece of work altogether. We owed a lot to the whole team put together." He also said "the idyll it depicted spoke very directly to people - and to people of all ages. It was a kind of television show that was already falling out of favor and which has continued to decline - a program that families watched together. And what they saw was this wonderful loving family, with kids they adored, sitting round at Sunday dinners, piling into the back of a truck and singing...people watched it and thought, "wouldn't we all love a little bit of that, if it were possible?"
The show became a national, award-winning smash hit. David Jason admitted the cast were amazed at the show's success.
David Jason once smuggled a cucumber into a bed scene with Pam Ferris. She had to deliver most of the dialogue and even though she knew it was there, she did the scene perfectly. It was only after the cameras stopped rolling that she wanted to know what the corpsing Jason was up to. Ferris is known for being very professional.
David Jason thought Philip Franks was perfectly cast as Charlie. He had spent most of his career in the theatre and he was a great team player as a result of that.
David Jason knows how to milk cows, which came in handy for playing farmer Pop Larkin.
David Jason said the message of this show was the same as Only Fools and Horses (1981): that the most important thing is what happens at home and with the family.
David Jason claimed the cast were like one big (overfed) family that genuinely liked and looked after each other.
David Jason liked the darkness of A Touch of Frost (1992) after the lightness of Only Fools and Horses (1981) and Darling Buds because it showed audiences he could play both, but lightness became a part of Frost too.
Once, when David Jason went to Wimbledon, in the front row was Jack Nicholson. Jason assumed Nicholson would get all the attention, but instead he did. Jason suspected that because Nicholson was the bigger star was ironically the reason why he didn't get more attention, because they were more intimidated by him than Jason, who was more approachable because of his roles as Pop Larkin or Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses (1981).
David Jason claimed the role of Pop Larkin made a few unusual demands on him. His car was really an old Army vehicle, painted up to look like a Rolls Royce. He described driving it as "largely unrelated to what we generally think of as driving these days. It had a crash gearbox, with a lever that virtually tore your shoulder out of its socket, and steering which provided a comprehensive upper-body workout."
David Jason described the cast as one big happy family, and working on the show as happy days. He said similar things about Only Fools and Horses (1981). He said the cast felt like a family off the set as well as on it, and they genuinely liked each other, so an extra degree of warmth came through because of that.
David Jason said he would never have been cast as Pop Larkin if it hadn't been for appearing in A Bit of a Do (1989) first, because it put him on Yorkshire Television's radar; that subsequently led to him being cast in A Touch of Frost (1992).
When David Jason was cast as Detective Inspector Jack Frost, he claimed Frost was "shabby, bitter, caustic and a commanding character, unlike Pop Larkin".
The music for the series was recorded at Olympic Studios, London, England. The music arrangements were by series composer, Barrie Guard with orchestrations by Tim Stevenson and Francis Shaw. Engineered by John Etchells, assisted by Richard Arnold. Mixed by John Etchells at The Astoria, Hampton Court, England. Orcxhestral Contractor Godfrey Salmon.
Pip Burley, the composer of the title music, is also a co-owner of Excelsior Productions, who made the show in association with Yorkshire Television Ltd.
Several pieces of music that would have been heard by The Larkins on the radio during the period, on the BBC light pro-gramme, were re-recorded for use in the show by Barrie Guard, conducting The English Light Concert Orchestra. The original versions of the re-created tracks were originally recorded for the Production Music Libraries of, respectively, Chappell's and Bosworth And Co. The tracks re-recorded were: Chappell Tracks: 'Devil's Gallop'-best known for it's as use as the theme to Dick Barton. 'Calling All Workers'-best known as the theme to Music While You Work. 'Puffin' Billy'-best known as the theme tune of Children's Choice. 'In a Party Mood'-better known for Housewive's Choice. These were recorded at Olympic Studios, along with the rest of the series music.
After the show came to an end, David Jason described the wrap party as a "very jolly affair". Jason was asked by Yorkshire Television executives why he thought he could play a TV detective in the upcoming A Touch of Frost (1992). Jason felt he was being interrogated by good and bad executives. He explained the genre was extremely popular and he wanted to explore a slightly darker edge in the character of Frost, while claiming the superiority of the English approach to TV detective shows (audience attempts to solve crime in tandem with the detective) to the American attempt (audience is shown the crime and the criminal at the start of the story, and then follows the detective's trail to the guilty party). After that, Jason had convinced them.
Like the subsequent A Touch of Frost (1992), both shows had a tough food regime that was hard on David Jason's stomach. People used to remark on it to Jason, that he was eating badly.
A soundtrack album containing 16 tracks of music from the series was released by EMI Records Ltd in 1999 on their Soundtrack records label. It contained The title theme 'Perfeck!' plus many incidental tracks, plus four pieces of source music, 4 popular radio themes of the day, which had been re-recorded for the series. This release was one of the short-lived releases on EMI's Soundtrack Records label and many planned releases were dropped.