Doc Martin (British TV Comedy Drama at its Best)

Source

Background


Does anyone remember the heart warmingly comedy film from 2000 called Saving Grace? Well those that remember it fondly will love Doc Martin, the TV series, as it is loosely based on the character of Dr Martin Bamford in the movie.

Martin Clunes played Dr Martin Bamford in the movie and in two made-for-TV prequels called Doc Martin, and Doc Martin and the Legend of the Cloutie, made by British Sky Broadcasting.

It was proposed to produce two such television films per year for three years, however BSkyB Pictures folded after just two episodes, so Clune's company sold the franchise to ITV. This broadcaster suggested that the Doctor should be portrayed as a "townie" out of his depth in the country, and wanted something a little edgier than the original. Clunes suggested his character be grumpy with little social skills, and so the 'new' Doc Martin was born. They decided to change the Doctor's surname for the new series to 'Ellingham' an anagram of the last name of the writer of the new series, Dominic Minghella. This would also help to differentiate the character from the Doctor in the original movie and it's prequels.

Martin Clunes playing the role of the grumpy and humourless Doc Martin may come as quite a shock to fans of some of his previous roles, particularly that of Gary Strang from the laddish comedy Men Behaving Badly which screened from 1994 to 1998.

Men Behaving Badly was so popular that a US spin-off with the same name was later screened in that country. The Gary Strang character was brash, boyish and fun-loving, almost the exact opposite of the role of Dr. Martin Ellingham. It is just an example of what an accomplished actor Martin Clunes is.

Source

International Broadcasting

USA: distributed by APT to subscribing local stations. Series 1-5 DVD, also available on Netflix, Amazon streaming and Hulu.

Netherlands: the adaption Dokter Tinus airs on SBS6.

Australia: series 6 currently showing on ABC 1, and on Pay TV channel UKTV. Repeat episodes from series 1 onward have been showing on 7Two.

South Africa: Doc Martin airs on the Hallmark channel on DSTV

Ireland: Doc Martin airs on TV3.

France: the adaption airs on THF1.

Canada: Doc Martin airs on VisionTV and Knowledge in British Columbia.

Serbia: Doktor Martin airs on TV Avala channel.

(for any other locations just ask me in comments)

The Series

Doc Martin is a delightful British television comedy drama series starring Martin Clunes (Men Behaving Badly) in the title role. The show is set in the fictional seaside village of Portwenn and filmed on location in the village of Port Isaac, Cornwall, England.

Five series (38 episodes) aired between 2004 and 2011, together with a feature-length special that was shown on Christmas Day 2006. The sixth series began airing on 2 September 2013 and aired its last episode "Departure" on 21st October 2013 in Britain. However this latest series is still currently being shown in other countries including on the ABC in Australia, and earlier repeats on other channels. In the USA, America Public Television ran the 2006 Christmas special as a two-part episode a week apart. All episodes have been released on DVD.

In Britain, Doc Martin has been a ratings winner for ITV with the third series achieving ITV's best midweek figures for drama screened at 9pm Monday since 2004, and the final episode of that series being watched by 10.37 million viewers. Series four was moved to Sunday 9pm to follow the successful X Factor program however ratings were impacted by ITV's decision not to screen this series in Scotland.The final episode of this series however still drew an audience of 10.29 million viewers, causing ITV to subsequently reverse it's decision not to screen the drama in Scotland and rescreen it there on Sunday afternoons in 2011 with great success.

Martin and Louisa

Dr Martin Ellingham
Dr Martin Ellingham | Source
Dr Ellingham and Louisa Glasson
Dr Ellingham and Louisa Glasson | Source
Bert Large (a larger than life character)
Bert Large (a larger than life character) | Source
PC Joe Penhale attempting to calm a situation.
PC Joe Penhale attempting to calm a situation. | Source
Doc Martin fans were left reeling after the Louisa Glasson was hit by a car
Doc Martin fans were left reeling after the Louisa Glasson was hit by a car | Source

The Story

Dr. Martin Ellingham, a brilliant London-based surgeon, develops haemophobia (a fear of blood) which forces him to give up surgery. He decides to relocate to the picturesque seaside village of Port Wenn where he grew up, having been raised by his now widowed Aunt Joan Norton. He seeks and takes up as the area's general practitioner (a position recently vacated).

Martin soon meets several of the locals (who seem to insist on referring to him as 'Doc Martin' instead of 'Dr Ellingham') but his situation is made more difficult by an almost complete lack of bedside manner. He is gruff, abrupt and intolerant, not only in issues related to medicine, but to life in general. It is just these traits that make his character, his interaction with others, and the show so unique and appealing.

The doctor and the headmistress of the local school, Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz), are clearly attracted to each other and despite their awkwardness, slowly develop a relationship, which has it's ups and downs throughout the series.

There are very few TV shows that I get upset if I miss an episode, Doc Martin is one of the exceptions. You get to know the characters, many that have been in the show from the start, like Bert Large (Ian McNeice), plumber, odd job man, restaurateur and likeable rogue. Apart from Doc Martin himself, my favourite character would have to be PC Joe Penhale (John Marquez) who is the town's well meaning though bumbling police constable. He is seen as somewhat the village idiot and not taken seriously by the community, especially Doc Martin. His character does create a lot of the humour in the show, but I do sometimes feel sorry for him, as I'm sure you will too.

Although there is a lot of comedy sprinkled throughout, it is often the drama that makes it a must watch, and how Doc Martin always manages to come through in the end despite his seeming indifference and impatience. Each episode tends to also focus on one or more medical conditions with the doctor describing the symptoms and treatments necessary. So I find this very informative and educational.

I have enjoyed every episode and have the dvd's of the first two series. I do feel however that Series Six (the final) is the best of all. I'm hoping the producers change their minds and decide to make more in future.

Source

The Main Characters

Actor
Character
Series
Martin Clunes
Dr Martin Ellingham MB BS FRCS
1-
Caroline Catz
Louisa Ellingham (nee Glasson)
1-
Ian McNeice
Bert Large
1-
Joe Absolom
Al Large
1-
Selina Cadell
Mrs. Sally Tishell
1-
Felicity Montagu
Caroline Bosman
1-2, 6-
Claire Bloom
Margaret Ellingham
2, 6-
John Marquez
PC Joe Penhale
3-
Eileen Atkins
Dr Ruth Ellingham BSc PhD
5-
Jessica Ransom
Morwenna Newcross
5-
Annabelle Apsion
Jennifer Cardew
6-
Stephanie Cole
Joan Norton
1-4
I have only included the characters who have been in the show from the first episode and still in the cast, or those who have been introduced later and play an important role in later episodes.

Bloopers

Have you heard of the Britsh TV show Doc Martin before?

  • Yes, I have watched it and enjoyed it.
  • No, never heard of it, but it sounds interesting.
  • No, and I don't like British TV.
  • Yes, I have seen it, but it didn't appeal.
See results without voting

Port Isaac, Cornwall (Port Wenn location)

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37 comments

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

hey Jodah haven't heard of it but I enjoy British Comedies.. my favorite being Bean.. and are you being served... I gotta check this one out thanks buddy


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey Frank, thanks for being the first to comment. I love Bean too, and lots of other Brit comedy. This has more drama than Bean and are You Being Served, but it's a good blend I feel.


Poetic Fool 2 years ago

I caught the early episodes of this series on PBS here in the states. Then I watched all the seasons I could on Netflix. It's a delightfully charming and funny series that's quite addicting. Doc Martin is quite the quirky character! I hope your hub will turn many people outside England on to this little known treasure. It turned me on to other fine English shows including the WWII drama series, Foyle's War. Thanks for sharing it!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

Ah yes Poetic Fool. I love Foyle's War also. It is the best wartime series I have seen. It is good to see an American like yourself who appreciates British TV series. I know I am Australian, but quite a lot of our shows are British. Thanks for your comment.


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England

Yes, this was a great series. Martin Clunes is one of our most accomplished actors and so good at both comedy and straight roles. He's also done quite a few documentaries to which he brings his own special brand of humour.

Interesting, informative hub. Ann


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Ann, it's a little like preaching to the converted wit you...lol, but glad you enjoyed the hub. I think Martin Clunes is great. I love his documentaries too.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Martin Clues is amazing and you have created an informative hub the layout is incredible. Voted up!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you very much DDE for your kind comments and vote up for this hub.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Great review of this British series, but I have not heard of it before, but it looks like something I would love to watch! Great write up!

Up and more and sharing.

Have a great week,

Faith Reaper


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks faith, I hope you can find it to check it out. My wife and I both love it, and our tastes don't always coincide, so it must have something special going for it. Thanks for the vote up and share. You have a good week too.


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 2 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

You know I have to confess to being British and not watching Doc Martin lol! I did however used to spend time in Port Isaac as my friend's parents used to own a restaurant right down on the harbour. I also used to love Men Behaving Badly! Somehow when these series, like The Office and Shameless, are remade in the US they don't seem to work out too well - everybody in the US Shameless looked far too clean and spoke in posh accents lol!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

I am going to find this and watch it, I love English comedy! My favorites being Hyacinth and As Time Goes By. My family loves Bean but he is like a snotty little kid that eats buggers to me, I can barely stand to look at him! He has given me a few laughs though.

Great write. All the rewards!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

I totally agree CMHypno, the US versions are never as good as the originals, same with Life On Mars etc. Fancy being British and not having watched Doc Martin...shame? I hope I can encourage you to do so...lol. Saying that, I'm Australian and don't watch Neighbours, haha. Anyway thanks for reading and your comment. Fancy your parents having owned a restaurant on the harbour in Port Isaac. It would be interesting to watch the show just to see what you recognised.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Jackie. I really hope you do find Doc Martin and watch it. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Oh I remember Mrs Hyacinth Bucket well, and As Time Goes By was a goody too. Have a good week.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

If I had a tv and cable I would watch as much British television as possible. I have always enjoyed their broadcasts and humor. I have not heard of this series but perhaps I can get it on Netflix. Thanks, John, and have a great day.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

As you can see Bill, I am a fan of British TV. My sources say this is available through Netflix so you should be able to view it there, It's worth a look. Thanks for reading.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

I hadn't heard of this, but it looks interesting. It's frustrating to find a new show you like only to learn it's been cancelled.


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 2 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

I hadn't heard of this one and I don't know if Netflix offers it in Canada. We don't have so many choice as in the US. I don't watch a lot of television but I like British humour.

Thank you for sharing! Enjoy your week, John!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

Flourish, yes I hope it's being aired in the USA (available on Netfix apparently, Amazon, Hulu and some local stations) otherwise the DVD's are available. It's been going since 2004, so there are plenty of episodes to watch if you can find them. Unfortunately the last series ended late last year but it's still screening here in Australia.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

I hope you can find it Joelle, it really is worth the watch. Thanks for reading.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

I agree with you wholeheartedly, Jodah. Martin Clunes is an outstanding actor, and "Doc Martin" is a terrific TV show. I subscribe to Acorn TV Online (the yearly fee costs only 37% of the Netflix fee), which showcases British, Canadian and Australian TV series, movies and documentaries. New episodes of my favorites are shown as they become available, week by week, which is better than waiting YEARS for them on Netflix.

Thanks for profiling Martin Clunes and his latest hit show. Voted Up+++

Jaye


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

Wow Jaye, great to find someone over there who knows Martin Clunes and Doc Martin. I will have to let others know about Acorn TV. Thank you for your kind comment and vote up.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

I think the British are born to do this well…perhaps it is because they have something in their DNA – everything from William Shakespeare to Agatha Christie and other dramatists. Who knows, but there a sense of candor, of understatement and timing that is perfect in their series writing and acting. “Doc Martin” is no exception. Excellent hub, John. Voted up and shared.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading Genna and your great comment. I agree with you, there are so many wonderful British TV shows both comedy and drama. They seem to be much more realistic and easy to relate to then their American counterparts. I don't know if that is because I am Australian and we have a little more affinity with the British because of our roots so to speak. Even Australian comedy and drama has improved immensely in recent years and developed it's own distinct style which is pleasing. Thanks for the vote up and share too.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I've heard of this show but I've never watched it. It sounds like I've been missing something! I'll seek it out and watch an episode. Thanks for the information, Jodah.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Alicia. I hope you can locate it and I'm sure you will enjoy it.


Romeos Quill profile image

Romeos Quill 2 years ago from Lincolnshire, England

G'day Jodah;

Great Hub article; 'Men Behaving Badly ' used to crack me up and brought back some fun memories of the nineties living and working in London. My 'ol mum used to love Doc Martin ( I think she's always had a 'thing' for doctors ) yet she married a trained killer from Her Majesty's R.A.F. Parachute Regiment lol! Go figure....

Thanks for the nostalgia and trust all's well down under.

All the Best,

R.Q.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

G'day back. Thanks for reading and your interesting comment R.Q. Maybe t was the Doc's lack of bedside manner and military like manner that your mum liked. All is well in this wide brown land....though more rain would be welcome. Cheers.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

We watched a few episodes on DVD from the library. He is quite a stern character but adds a lot to the humor others find in him. I don't know how anyone can find him charming, but Louisa seems to handle him well. Great review of this sitcom.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

So true teaches, it is hard to understand how Louisa can live with Martin, he is too stern with no sense of humour or fun, but your right they are the traits that make his interaction with others so interesting. Thanks for your comment.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Jodah....I adore British Comedy. Had never heard of this program, but looks like I will really enjoy it. Thanks so much. Not only for the intro, but the info on how I can view it here in the U.S.!! British humor actually slays me!....UP+++


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi again fpherj48. It's great to have you visiting my hubs. Doc Martin is one of my favourite British Comedies of all time, and there have been a lot..I love British Comedy. I am sure you will be enraptured when you manage to find it. The Doc himself is so unlovable that he becomes loveable (though that makes no sense), though at times frustrating. All the characters in the show are appealing. Let me know if you find it and if you enjoy it.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

LOL....Yes, of course.....we love the unlovable because we can't bear to leave him totally w/o a single bit of acceptance.....It's our charitable nature......we feel "obliged"....LOL....Some one has to love this jerk....right? LOL.

I will find the show easily via one of the venues you have listed for the U.S. Thanks Jodah!


vickiholder profile image

vickiholder 15 months ago from The beautiful Ouachita Mtns. in Arkansas

I think Doc Martin is one of the funniest shows ever. I practically rolled in the floor during an episode featuring a rather unfortunate hairball incident. I am eagerly awaiting season 7 here in the US.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 15 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I agree Vicki, can't wait for series 7 to show here too. Thanks for reading.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 11 months ago from The Beautiful South

I have been watching this over and over on Netflix and Nell tells me she has met Martin and they are working on a new series. I cannot wait!

I have not seen him before; will have to catch those other shows but can't think I would like him as well being anyone but Martin! Even though I am very southern American I say it just like Louisa does.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 11 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading Jackie. Martin Clunes is totally different in those other shows than he is as Doc Martin, so may be best not to watch them. He often also does documentaries about dogs etc. I love Louisa and her patience with Martin. You can see why he would frustrate her.

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    John Hansen (Jodah)687 Followers
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    John values the use of humour and enjoys writing and reading limericks and jokes. He is a fan of Monty Python, Mr Bean, Black Books etc.



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