Did you ever think Doc Martin would run for nine series?
No, who would have? We thought two or three if we were lucky. It’s always a happy shoot, but this was particularly enjoyable. I think we’ve upped the funny and everyone seems to relish what they do.
Does it feel like a family on set?
Yes, about 75% of the crew have been there throughout, and we have Port Isaac, a holiday location, for our set. I can’t think of another job in telly like it.
Are people lining up to be guest stars?
Various people do lobby me to be in it, and we do get thank you letters that sound like the type of letters people write after a country house weekend about the lovely time they’ve had.
What’s it like working with your wife Philippa Braithwaite?
Absolutely fine. It’s how we met and it’s sort of how we roll. I’m just really lucky to be working with such a talented producer.
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Did you find acting, or did acting find you?
Well my father was an actor and his parents were music hall entertainers, so I didn’t really give it a lot of thought. My father died when I was eight and I just drifted into it really. I never had a plan or a trajectory.
Town or country?
I’d hate to live in London again. I’d be miserable. I love living in the country and love all the space and the trees, seeing the seasons change and being in tune with it. I do better that way.
How do you relax?
I hang out with the dogs, bumble around the farm (in Dorset) and ride the horses, just mess about in the countryside. It makes me very happy. As I grow older, I’m getting more into gardening and that’s a joy.
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What are your thoughts on ageing?
I groan when I get out of bed every morning with my achy back and bones and the slightly arthritic foot I’m developing. I’m not enjoying that bit of it but I’m very happy with where I am. I seem to be content – I’m not striving.
How do you keep fit?
I tend to do a hilly two-mile circuit with the dogs every morning, so I tend to think that’s keeping me mobile, although there comes a time where the adage ‘Use it or lose it’ does run into ‘Don’t wear it out’.
How important is your farm to you?
If I didn’t have to work as an actor to support my farming habit, I’d quite happily just have the farming habit because it’s a wonderful life.
Are you a worrier?
I’m quite good at living right smack in the moment. I don’t tend to think about work much, unless I’ve got something I need to learn that’s worrying me, then I’ll go out and mumble at the dogs.
Did you enjoy filming the period drama Vanity Fair?
Not the costumes, they’re a pain in the arse but I loved working with the horses and carriages, and sort of allowing my experience of the country to bleed into my professional life.
Are you comfortable presenting documentaries?
I’m not a professional presenter because I’d struggle to present something intelligently that I had no interest in, but we choose subjects that do interest me. And the places I get to go, it’s a real privilege and I’m very aware of that.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I never really came off the rails too badly, so I think I’d leave my younger self alone. Things have worked out OK. I have a very happy marriage and a healthy daughter, Emily, so I’m not grumbling.
What’s the project you’re most fond of?
I have fond memories about most of the jobs I do. I loved doing Men Behaving Badly and it’s given me some of my best friends, I loved doing William and Mary with Julie Graham, who’s another close friend, and I love doing Doc Martin, so it would be hard to choose just one.
Would you like to do more film?
I honestly don’t mind. I liked Goodbye, Mr Chips because it was the closest to doing a film that someone like me gets to do. I haven’t had a really glittering film career but maybe I’m better off just doing the telly.
Any disappointments in your career?
I was sad about Warren not being picked up again because I really loved doing that and it’s a shame it never got a chance to grow or develop. I’ll probably never know why they canned it.
Do you prefer to watch comedy or drama?
If it resonates with me, I’ll watch it. I was gripped by Chernobyl; love Killing Eve and I find Ghosts hysterical. I wish Emily would watch it with me and her mother but all she wants to watch is other teenagers murdering one another.
What are you looking for at this point in your career?
To keep busy. Longevity isn’t a given in my game, but I’ve never had an agenda beyond just keeping going.
Would you like to see a tenth series of Doc Martin?
It’s not up to me, it’s up to ITV to commission it, but yes, I’d be stupid not to be very happy to return to Cornwall.