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How Doc Martin is a perfect fit for Martin Clunes

Neil Davey / 01 April 2014

Medical comedy-drama Doc Martin has run for more than a decade. Star Martin Clunes talks about the show’s enduring appeal.

Before interviewing Martin Clunes, I put a message out on Twitter to see if anyone had any questions they’d like me to ask. The responses, from all kinds of people, didn’t mention questions. No, they just said things like “Doc Martin? I love that show.

“It’s very gratifying,” says Martin Clunes when he hears the news, although it’s not a great surprise. The show regularly attracts viewing figures of around eight million and, whenever the series shoots in Port Isaac in Cornwall, fans fly in from all over the world to observe. 

“We’ve had fans from Australia, the US, Canada, New Zealand,” reveals Martin Clunes. “People have really taken the show to their hearts. I think it’s wonderful.” 

Secret of the show's success

The secret of the show’s success isn’t rocket science though. It’s funny, well observed, well written and beautifully played – and all against a glorious Cornish backdrop. For Martin Clunes though, it’s all about the writing. 

“I think it’s the quality of the scripts,” he explains. “We’re quite picky.” (Martin Clunes and his wife Philippa Braithwaite own the production company behind the show). “I don’t think we’ve ever shot from the first draft. The scripts are amended and changed, often while we’re shooting.” He’s also quick to praise his fellow actors, particularly Caroline Catz who plays Martin’s wife, Louisa.  

“The scenes I like most  are the ones with Caroline. I like having patients as well, of course, but it’s those scenes with Caroline that are the most fun to do. “

Plus we make a series every other year and perhaps that helps, because we have a year to plan.” He laughs. “And maybe going every other year means we haven’t outstayed our welcome?” 

The Cornwall connection

The same possibly applies to Cornwall, which isn’t always a county famed for its acceptance of non-locals.

“We’ve got a good relationship with Port Isaac, I think,” says Martin Clunes. “And Port Isaac was always ‘for rent’ so it’s not like we’ve disturbed them. Plus, we’ve kept the Co-op alive. The Port Isaac Co-op was going to shut because it was such seasonal income, but now they get visitors year round so yes, I think we’ve got a good relationship with that community… but I can’t speak for the rest of Cornwall.” 

ast year, the tabloids reported that Martin Clunes had lost a considerable amount of weight, through illness. Martin is much better – “the illness was a while ago, and all sorted now, but I did lose quite a bit of weight” – but wasn’t the only reason for the new lithe Clunes form. He also discovered a new fitness regimen. “If you want to get fit, buy a farm. On a hill,” he advises, laughing. 

Move to the country  

Unlike many celebrities who move to the country, Martin Clunes is getting his hands and feet dirty on some 130 acres of Dorset, where the bad weather at the start of 2014 was quite a challenge. “The flatland was saturated, so we had to feed the animals by hand, which is hard work. 

“So yes, if you want to get in shape, buy a farm, diet a bit, get ill – that’s the magic formula...” 

With series six out on DVD, fans will also be delighted to know that series seven is on its way. “We’re looking at scripts now,” reveals Martin Clunes. “Series six finished on a bit of a low. The American fans didn’t like that so we’ve got some ground to make up.” 

Read Martin Clunes' IMBd here 

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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