Pop goes The Larkins! ITV axes Darling Buds Of May spin-off after star Sabrina Bartlett left the show and complained about co-star Tok Stephen
- The Larkins cancelled by ITV amid controversy over star’s dramatic exit
- Read more: Sabrina Bartlett ‘complained to bosses about co-star Tok Stephen
Darling Buds of May spin-off The Larkins has been axed by ITV amid controversy after the departure of one of its leading stars, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The show will not return for a third series as the network attempts to move on from the exit of Sabrina Bartlett, who played Mariette Larkin.
The actress had made a complaint about co-star Tok Stephen’s behaviour, and it is understood the scenario gave ITV ‘a big headache’ when her complaint was not upheld following an investigation.
As a result, Ms Bartlett quit before the second series, while Mr Stephen continued in his role as the Larkins’ lodger Cedric ‘Charley’ Charlton.
Ms Bartlett, 31, was replaced by up-and-coming actress Joelle Rae to star alongside Mr Stephen, 24.
Ms Bartlett (right) quit before the second series, while Mr Stephen continued in his role as the Larkins’ lodger Cedric ‘Charley’ Charlton
The cast of ITV’s remake of The Darlings Buds of May, including Montgomery Larkin [Liam Middleton], Petunia Larkin [Rosie Coleman], Victoria Larkin [Lola Shepelev], Zinnia Larkin [Davina Coleman], Mariette [Sabrina Bartlett], Primrose Larkin [Lydia Page], Charley [Tok Stephen], Pop Larkin [Bradley Walsh] and Ma Larkin [Joanna Scanlan]
However, the script was rewritten and their characters did not feature as prominently. Instead, Ms Bartlett’s on-screen sister Lydia Page, who played Primrose, and Barney Walsh, who portrayed PC Harness, were brought to the forefront of the plot.
The series’ demise spells the end of ITV’s attempted recreation of The Darling Buds of May, which was a major hit in the 1990s when it starred Sir David Jason and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Sources say Bradley Walsh, who played Pop Larkin in the revamp , was ‘upset’ by the situation.
One insider said: ‘What happened was really sad for everyone involved in the show. Sabrina was a much loved and popular member of the cast.
‘It left ITV with a massive quandary – they wanted both of their stars but that simply couldn’t be the case.
A complaint was made about co-star Tok Stephen’s behaviour after he reportedly used a selfie Ms Bartlett had taken as his Whatsapp profile picture
New role? Joelle Rae replaced Ms Bartlett in the show, which has now been cancelled by ITV bosses
Just 2.9 million people tuned in for the second series’ opening episode, compared to 4.8 million for the remake’s pilot episode (Joelle Ray as Mariette)
‘There was a lot of talk around the television industry about this, and bosses at the station do not want to be tarnished in any way. It is not fair for the cast, particularly Bradley, to be caught up in any of it either.’
On top of the actress’s departure, sources say the viewing figures were a contributing factor to the show being axed.
Just 2.9 million people tuned in for the second series’ opening episode, compared to 4.8 million for the remake’s pilot episode in 2021.
It was revealed in March 2022 that Ms Bartlett had quit the show amid claims of on-set tensions though her publicist insisted it was due to ‘scheduling clashes’.
The situation is also understood to have been a factor in her leaving her agent, Independent Talent Group.
Ms Bartlett has previously enjoyed roles in the ITV drama Victoria and Netflix’s Bridgerton, and many believed her casting as Mariette in The Larkins offered the potential of emulating Ms Zeta-Jones’s break into Hollywood.
The show was produced by Objective Fiction and the company declined to comment.
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