Doc Martin - a favorite British TV import

Doc Martin (Martin Clunes), Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz)  and James Henry, their baby.  What is next for this family?
Doc Martin (Martin Clunes), Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz) and James Henry, their baby. What is next for this family? | Source

Note: no spoiler alerts here. I will not give anything away from Series 6.

My all time favorite PBS British import television series is of course Downton Abbey. I don't think anything will surpass this beautifully written, edited and costumed period drama that takes place at the end of the Edwardian Period in England. Set in the gorgeous British countryside at Highclare Estate, there is nothing finer than this very British series.

But, I have found another British TV series that I love and brought to America through PBS which is the contemporary Doc Martin. This show is another wonderful British import and comedy/drama series that is just hilarious, heart-wrenching and poignant all at the same time. I have been watching it now for about two years and have not seen every episode or series, but I have managed to see many of them.

I love this show, set in the beautiful seaside village of Port Isaac in Cornwall, England. It is a lovely, picturesque village with breathtaking views of the harbor, village and hills around it. It is the setting for the fictional Cornwall village of Portwenn in the Doc Martin series.

Series six of Doc Martin was aired in Britain in September to October 2013 but we are just getting it now here in the U.S.on PBS.

Lovely Port Isaac, Cornwall, England.  The setting for the fictitious village of Portwenn in the British TV series "Doc Martin."
Lovely Port Isaac, Cornwall, England. The setting for the fictitious village of Portwenn in the British TV series "Doc Martin." | Source
Martin's surgery is the stone house at the top of the hill.
Martin's surgery is the stone house at the top of the hill. | Source
Aunt Joan (Stephanie Cole) adds warmth in contrast to Martin's gruff manner.
Aunt Joan (Stephanie Cole) adds warmth in contrast to Martin's gruff manner. | Source

The Doc Martin series is the brainchild of Martin Clunes, who plays Doc Martin and creator and writer, Dominic Minghella. It is brilliant.

It is based on the character of Dr. Martin Bramford in the 2000 comedy film, Saving Grace. Here, Dr. Bramford was a gynecologist. When they decided to revive the Doc Martin character, they changed him a bit and decided he would be a general practicioner (GP) in the local Portwenn surgery and have a grumpy and disagreeable demeanor, and be a much edgier character.

The background story on Dr. Martin Ellingham (Martin Clunes) is that he was a brilliant and successful vascular surgeon at Imperial College London. But. because he develops haemophobia, fear of blood, he is forced to stop practicing vascular surgery.

What to do? How can a brilliant and successful vascular surgeon move on? Well, Martin does literally move on. He comes back to Portwenn where he spent many holidays as a child with his Aunt Joan.

As luck would have it, Portwenn was in dire need of a village doctor, a general practitioner, to look after the medical needs of the Portwenn villagers. With some prodding and encouragement from his Aunt Joan, Martin interviews for the position.

Obviously, his education and experience is a double edge sword for Martin. While he is over-educated and experienced for the position of a GP, he has the experience and fine knowledge to figure out some of the strange symptoms and diseases the villagers bring to him.

Martin also has a temperament problem: he is strictly professional, a brilliant surgeon, gruff in his ill mannered way, lacks social skills, and is cold and abrasive. He is a reserved man, stiff, arrogant, blunt and anti-social with the villagers. He certainly believes he is above these villagers, but he does take his medical duties seriously.

Because of his brilliance and having come from London, he looks down a bit on the gentle villagers that just want a doctor with a compassionate bedside manner, which Martin definitely does not have.

It is good he has Aunt Joan to lean on for emotional support because she is the only one who understands Martin when he first arrives in Portwenn.

Doc Martin in action dealing with a medical emergency.
Doc Martin in action dealing with a medical emergency. | Source

Series 1 - 4 (Behind the Scenes)

Dr. Martin Ellingham, used to being deferred to because of his brilliance, is to his reserved dismay addressed simply as "Doc Martin" by the Portwenn villagers in their unpretentious, homey, small-town way. He cannot break them of the habit and hence the name of the television series.

The comedy and the drama, of course, revolves around Ellingham's interaction with the local Cornish villagers who have their own way of doing things and their own idiosyncrasies. Where the villagers want love,compassion, and understanding from their village doctor, Ellingham gives them uber-professionalism, a brisk manner, and blunt answers to their questions.

While Ellingham feels he is being a professional GP with a no non-sense manner, the villagers perceive him to be gruff, short-tempered and lacking in any bedside manner.

The villagers are surprised and taken aback by his brusque manner just as Ellingham is surprised and unnerved by the villagers kindly, down-home ways.

Upon his arrival at the surgery, Ellingham finds it is in disarray and to his consternation and frustration he inherits an incompetent, but understanding receptionist who helps to run interference for him with the villagers.

Today, the receptionist is Morwenna Newcross (Jessica Ransom).

Dr. Ellingham is super strict about cleanliness and germs while the villagers are not. He is confounded by this many times in his practice. But, he is a faithful doctor who drops everything at the moment there is an emergency of which he must take care. There is no one finer, more loyal, or more caring (under his gruff exterior) than Doc Martin.

Because of this, the villagers come to understand his gruffness and begin to see the brilliant doctor they luckily have in their village. They grow to love Doc Martin as he in turn grows to love the villagers.

The comedy comes in as we watch Doc Martin interact with all the village characters and their odd, funny but endearing ways. And the drama comes in as we watch some poignant stories of pain and heart-break some of the villagers experience.

Martin and Louisa take time out to bond over a glass of wine.
Martin and Louisa take time out to bond over a glass of wine. | Source

Martin and Louisa's budding romance

Of course, our story would not be complete without Doc Martin having a love interest. While many of the village women hilariously throw themselves at him hoping 'to snare' the good doctor as a husband, Martin has nothing to do with these women.

Martin is smitten with Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz) the primary school headmistress and former teacher. Because of his anti-social manner, Martin has a difficult time expressing his romantic feelings to Louisa. He adores her and she him, but he often spoils a rare tender moment between them with his gruffness or an uber-professional comment.

Louisa, who really cares for him, and is the first person in Portwenn to realize he just has a gruff exterior, but there is depth within him, tries again and again to help and to show him how to be a caring, loving doctor and person.

Aunt Joan, in the meantime, ever fond of Louisa, is always encouraging this match-up with her nephew. She tries to guide him into a relationship with Louisa.

Finally, these two very different stars collide and fall in love. It is hilarious and heart-wrenching to see these two wonderful people come together and then stumble and fall as they try to piece together a loving relationship.

At one point Martin proposes and they almost marry, but both feel the same on their wedding day. They feel they are not right for one another and will only bring sadness and unhappiness to their partner. So, the marriage does not take place and Louisa leaves Portwenn for London to take a teaching position there.

Martin and Dr. Edith Montgomery (Lia Williams) an old flame from Martin's London days.
Martin and Dr. Edith Montgomery (Lia Williams) an old flame from Martin's London days. | Source

Martin reads to the baby

Although Louisa has left Portwenn, Martin is not without his admirers. Surprisingly, an old flame of his from his London days shows up in Portwenn. It is Dr. Edith Montgomery, gynecologist. (Lia Williams) She travels back and forth from London to Portwenn several times a month and becomes a fixture in Martin's life.

She also inspires him and encourages him to recover from his haemophobia, fear of blood, and return to vascular surgery. Inspired and encouraged, Martin begins the therapy sessions he needs to take to overcome his phobia.

As he is progressing at overcoming his fear and really getting excited about returning to vascular surgery, there is a soft knock at the door. When he opens it, there stands Louisa, five months pregnant. The baby is his.

Of course, Edith is there also, and Louisa and Edith learn of each other and their places in Martin's life. Now, Martin is really confounded as he ping pongs back and forth between the women, not knowing what to do, not knowing his heart, and completely astounded at Louisa's medical condition.

With his uber-professionalism he tries to take charge of Louisa's medical pregnancy, but Louisa resists and strangely enough, Edith becomes her gynecologist.

Again, Aunt Joan takes charge and tries to guide Martin back to Louisa but this time he is more resistant. But, Aunt Joan is completely on Louisa's side at this time and helps her through her pregnancy.

In all the confusion of their off again/on again relationship, Edith, the villagers and their opinions of the situation, Martin is determined to return to London. He overcomes his fear of blood and interviews and obtains a vascular surgery doctor's position in London.

Of course, just as he is about to leave, Louisa gives birth to their son and names him James Henry Glasson. Martin is torn about the situation as he holds his son for the first time as his son melts his heart.

He feels he can't leave Louisa and his son and must stay in Portwenn to help Louisa. The villagers are thrilled not to lose their brilliant doctor and are happy for Martin, Louisa and their new son.

So here we are at series six. What will happen? Will Martin and Louisa ever marry? Will they continue to live together as a family?

Sadness hits Martin when his Aunt Joan suddenly dies of a heart attack and he is crushed that his emotional security and the one he is able to lean on is gone.

Here to attend Aunt Joan's funeral, is her sister, Martin's Aunt Ruth. Dr. Ruth Ellingham, psychiatrist.( Eileen Atkins) What is amazing to Louisa is she is the complete opposite of her warm sister, and exactly has Martin's gruff temperament. Now Louisa has two of them to contend with and a baby. What will happen next?

Filming the British TV series, Doc Martin, in Port Isaac, Cornwall, England.
Filming the British TV series, Doc Martin, in Port Isaac, Cornwall, England. | Source
"Doc Martin" with tourists in Port Isaac.
"Doc Martin" with tourists in Port Isaac. | Source

Naturally, Port Isaac has become a huge tourist attraction in England because of the Doc Martin series. Tourists flock here in the summer to see the beautiful fictional village of Portwenn and watch the filming of the show.

Tourists love to have their photos taken with the cast members and to talk with them also. The show is filmed here on location from May through September. By October, it is getting quite chilly in Port Isaac on the sea and so filming ends.

The interior shots of the homes, shops, and Doc Martin's surgery, are all done in a local converted barn nearby.

Five series of the beloved TV show where shot and aired between 2004-2011. There was a feature-length special that aired on Christmas Day in Britain in 2006.

Series six was aired on TV in Britain from September 2, 2013 through October 2, 2013. This series is just being aired now through PBS here in the U.S.

Martin Clunes says a seventh series will definitely be filmed in 2015 but that it will possibly be the final one of the series as creative ideas for story lines are running out.

This is such a popular series that it is viewed throughout most of Europe and North and South America.

The Doc Martin show won the British Comedy Award for Best TV Comedy Drama in 2004 and Martin Clunes won the Best TV Comedy Actor Award for his portrayal of Doc Martin in the same year.

If you have never watched this show, consult your PBS station guides and give it a good look/see. It will delight you and make you laugh and at the same time bring tears to your eyes in the poignant love story between Martin and Louisa and their little boy.

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Comments 42 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Never heard of it, but then I don't really watch television, so that's no surprise. I can tell you that I love British television. Some of my favorite shows in the past have been British-produced, so I'm sure your recommendation is right on. Have a great weekend.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

We picked up the series at our local library and enjoyed the stories of Doc Martin. It will be interesting to see what happens between him and Louisa this season. Great coverage and well done.


ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

Suzette,

I will definitely check to see when this show airs on PBS. Thank you for the great description of the characters, setting and plot. I really enjoy BBC and often choose Brit-com over anything else. "Keeping up Appearances" is one my faves. I am way behind on the tv shows. I have several friends who became hooked on "Downtown Abbey," and I have yet to see any of those shows either. "Doc Martin" sounds like a great show, and I look forward to watching. V+/H+

Blessings,

Kim


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Hi Suzette,

My friend Vickiw has given me rave reviews about this show and I have been meaning to check it out.

Your detailed and fascinating overview and the video snippets make me convinced this is a series I will be checking out.

I am also enamored with Downton Abbey...btw. Hope you have a lovely weekend. Hugs, Maria


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 2 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I discovered Doc Martin years ago on Hulu and was hooked from episode one. Later our PBS channel started airing the series and I watched it all over again and got to see the newer episodes. On top of everything else, the scenery is fantastic-- and I don't care if it's sweeping views of Cornwall or Bert Large's littered and cluttered cottage. Many times I helped my cousin deliver steel to Hayle, Cornwall back in 1973 and never got tired of the scenery or the people. Thanks for this review-- I wish I'd thought of it first, but then it wouldn't have been as good.


Vickiw 2 years ago

Hi Suzette,

Wonderful and comprehensive review of Doc Martin. So glad you chose to do this!

I know Maria would adore this show, so it's true I have been trying to persuade her to watch it. ( purely for furthering her medical knowledge of course, and particularly to demonstrate how important the bedside manner is.) Maybe she'll listen to you after this!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Hi Suzette, I have only watched it a few times, which is pretty strange considering I live here! lol! I met Martin Clunes years ago, back in the 90s when he was filming in my town, I think the film was called Shattered, if I remember rightly. He is lovely, he usually is in comedies, where he is hilarious! My friend from work, her husband, actually works on the Set as a can't remember what you call them! lol! someone who does the Sets etc, great review, makes me want to watch it now! wonderful!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Bill: Well if you should ever turn on the 'telly' then this is the show to watch. It just cracks me up - Martin is so oblivious to how he comes across to other people. Watching him trying to be romantic with Louisa is a gas. The quirky, odd villagers are also a crack up. You would really enjoy this. Or you could live stream it I bet on your computer. Thanks so much for stopping by and you have a great weekend also.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Dianna: Isn't this show a hoot? I can't wait to see what happens, although, sadly, in writing this article I learned some of the plot for

Series 6. I like to be surprised. Oh, well, I don't know everything so I have some to look forward to. So glad you enjoyed reading this and happy watching Louisa and Martin and the baby boy.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hi Kim: so glad you stopped by. I think you will enjoy this show and it will make you laugh. It is a charming, quirky show and Doc Martin is oblivious as to how he comes off to other people. He suffers no fools. LOL! The setting of this show is beautiful and the fishing village is so quaint and picturesque. Downton Abbey is my favorite British show, but Doc Martin is fun to watch while I wait for Downton to return with new shows. Do watch this as it will make you laugh.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

UnnamedHarald: So nice of you to visit. I haven't gotten into Hulu or Nextflix so I watch the Doc Martin episodes as they come to PBS. The show is a crack up for me. It makes me laugh out loud. Not many TV shows do that for me. The scenery is absolutely beautiful and picturesque. How wonderful that you have actually been there. I bet it brings back wonderful memories for you. Bert Large is one of my favorite characters with his cluttered cottage as you say and his restaurant. All the characters are so funny. I can't wait for the new series. Thanks so much for your input.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Vicki: Isn't this show wonderful? I just love it and it makes me laugh out loud at some of the hijinks of some of the villagers. Maria would love this being a nurse and get a hoot out of Doc Martin. So glad you watch this show and stopped by to comment. We will have to see what happens with Louisa and Doc Martin this time around. I am so glad you enjoyed reading this.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hi Nell: Sometimes what is in our own backyard we miss. I love the British shows because they are not so empty headed as the American shows. There is real depth to your drama and comedy shows; something dreadfully missing from American TV shows.(With the exception of a few) How exciting to have met Martin Clunes and talked with him. I think he is absolutely hilarious in Doc Martin. This is the show I watch while I am waiting for Downton Abbey to come back. LOL! It makes me laugh out loud. I love the quirky villagers and their trials and tribulations. And the scenery is just beautiful. Thanks so much for stopping by and for you input.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hi Maria, so glad you stopped by. This show is hilarious and I think you would enjoy especially being a nurse. You can tell us if Doc Martin knows his stuff or not. LOL! This is the show I watch while waiting for Downton Abbey to return. Doc Martin is so oblivious to how he comes off to the villagers and he is just hilarious. This show makes me laugh out loud and the scenery is beautiful. Do watch it sometime and have a great weekend.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hi Suzette, This looks like the perfect programming for binge watching (code for Mike takes a nap with the TV on). The BRitish have produced many interesting programming choices and this looks like one that falls in this category. Thanks for such a thorough review and recommendation.


midget38 profile image

midget38 2 years ago from Singapore

Suzette, I love realistic portrayals such as this. I wish Doc Martin will be screened in Singapore......from what you've shared, the character is so well-rounded!


travmaj profile image

travmaj 2 years ago from australia

Hi Suzette, Doc Martin is extremely popular in Australia too. Have to say Cornwall is a splendid place and Port Isaac has made it even more popular. Sometimes I have mixed feeling towards Martin. I guess that's intentional from the writer/director. Makes for a truly interesting character. Love Louisa, how does she cope with him? Grrrr....Enjoy the next series...no spoiling from me...


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

I love British shows, and Dr. Martin sounds like a very good one from your description. I hope we get it in the Philippines. My daughter loves Downton Abbey and she promised to let me watch her set. Maybe she can find Dr. Martin for us, as well.


ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

Suzette,

I saw my first episode of "Doc Martin" last night and LOVED IT! In this episode, Burt, the plumber has decided put up his plunger and has opened a little restaurant. Thank You so much for writing about the show or I may have missed it. You are the best!

Much Love,

Kim


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

This is one of my favourite all time shows Suzette, and I actually wrote a hub about it a few months ago. I recommend everyone who loves good comedy/drama check it out. DVD's of all series are available if they can't find a tv channel airing it. Great hub, voted up.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Mike: I don't know about binge watching but it is a good show. I love many of the British shows, but this one is a standout. I think it is the actors are so enjoyable to watch.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

midget: I'm not sure it is shown in Asia anywhere, but if it were, I think you would enjoy it. So glad you enjoyed reading this.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

travmaj: I thought he was popular in Australia. The scenery and setting in Port Isaac is just beautiful - so quaint and picturesque! Yes, sometimes you think will Martin ever get a clue? And, then he does do something compassionate and caring and it brings a tear to the eye. Louisa is too good to him, but that what love is all about. We can't always pick who we fall in love with. It just happens, sometimes. Thanks for keeping mum - I don't like to know what is going to happen til I view it myself. So glad you enjoyed this.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

grand old lady: Well, if you get Downton Abbey, I hope you will also get Doc Martin. I think Downton Abby is the best of the British shows, but Doc Martin is a standout also. I love the British shows because I think they are much better than our American ones, which can be so immature and silly. I enjoy intelligent adult humor I guess. So glad you enjoyed reading this.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hi Kim: So glad you watched the show! Bert is one of the funniest characters on the show and has been one of the characters in all the episodes. He and his son are a hoot. I'm glad you read this and are now watching it. You will see how clueless Martin is sometimes. Hugs, Suzette.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

I've watched this show a few times and really enjoyed it. I love Downton Abbey. The Brits are so skilled and talented with these types of shows...I just love them.


mylindaelliott profile image

mylindaelliott 2 years ago from Louisiana

It sounds like an interesting show. I must have missed it all this time.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Genna, thank you so much for your comments. I love the British shows as they truly make me laugh. I am glad you enjoyed reading this and enjoy the British shows also.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

linda, do watch this show if you have the chance. It will make you laugh. There are several of these types of British shows on TV right now, but Downton Abbey and Doc Martin are the two best British shows.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

I love Doc Martin! The setting is so beautiful and I love the music at the beginning. The characters are complex and interesting, the stories are so human and touching. The doctor himself is so aggravating and, at times, terrible, yet we root for him and love him nonetheless. (voted up and shared)


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Dolores, it is so good to find another Doc Martin fan. I love the show. I know, Martin is so exasperating at times but then he turns around and does some lovely or compassionate thing just in time, and my heart melts for him. We do root for him because he says and behaves towards others the way we wish we could sometimes. LOL! I am so pleased you enjoyed reading this and thanks so much for the visit.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Doc Martin represents British comedy drama at it's very best. You've done a great job of introducing it to people who may not have seen it. Nice work!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hi Jo: Thank you. It does represent British comedy/drama at its best. I agree with that. So glad you enjoyed reading this and thanks for your input.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Interesting but have not heard of it.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

DDE: It is British comedy and drama at its best. You may not get this program in Croatia. If you do, it is fun to watch all of Martin's antics.


Sylvestermouse profile image

Sylvestermouse 2 years ago from United States

I love Downton Abbey too, but I had not heard of Doc Martin until I read you article. I will have to search add it to my watch list now. I love it when I have a recommended whole new series that I can view.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Sylvestermouse: I love the British shows and as I said Downtown Abby is my favorite. Next. comes Doc Martin. It is hilarious and serious at the same time. The character of Doc Martin is so complicated that it makes for a wonderful show. I hope you enjoy it also.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Not sure about Croatia DDE, but in Serbia it is on the TV Avala channel as Doktor Martin. It's my favourite British Comedy too, and I also have a hub about the show.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

John: I am so glad you enjoy watching this show also. I have read your article too and it is a good one. I love British shows whether drama or comedy. They have a classiness that I don't see in American shows. Thanks so much for reading and for your comments. Most appreciated.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

No problem Suzette. Thank you too.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

John, so glad you stopped by.


ladyguitarpicker profile image

ladyguitarpicker 20 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

This is a great series as we love British shows and have watched many of them. You have written a very good hub.

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