Some solvers prefer a more gentle challenge than others. In this puzzle I've attempted to make the down clues simpler than the across ones. That means that if you can't solve the across clues on the first pass through, then hopefully the down solutions will yield more easily and provide some crossing letters. In addition, the large fellow may assist with the first seven down answers.
(Note that 4d is not in Chambers. It is in Webster's, and Chambers Online recognises it as a US word.)