Martin Clunes: Doc Martin

British actor Martin Clunes is famous for a number of prime time TV sitcoms and dramas, such as Men Behaving Badly, Jeeves and Wooster, Goodbye Mr Chips and Reggie Perrin, to name but a few. His most famous role in recent years has been starring in the long-running drama series, Doc Martin, as the infamous GP.

Wimbledon-born Clunes, 57, started his acting career on the stage, after completing his education at the Arts Educational School in Chiswick, London. His first major TV role was playing Nigel Crabtree in the BBC sitcom, No Place Like Home, which ran from 1983 to 1987.

It was the raucous comedy series, Men Behaving Badly, which made him a household name. He played laddish Gary, opposite Neil Morrissey’s womanising Tony, in the sitcom that ran for six series from 1992 to 1998.

Martin Clunes

Colin Bennett / Alamy Stock Photo


Doc Martin origins

Clunes first took on the role of Doc Martin in the ITV drama series in 2004. The show has been a big hit ever since, having been running continually for eight series. The character of the GP (Martin Ellingham) was based on a role Clunes first played in the film, Saving Grace, in 2000.

In the movie, the doctor’s name was Martin Bamford, but the plot was set in Cornwall.  Dr Martin Ellingham’s personality was sullener and more contemptuous than his earlier incarnation in Saving Grace.

The eighth series of Doc Martin finished in November 2017, with each episode averaging 7.4 million viewers. It is anticipated a ninth series will be broadcast later this year.

Set in the fictional village of Portwenn, every series of Doc Martin is filmed in the real-life Cornish fishing village of Port Isaac

Clunes plays the resident GP, who is a rather bad-tempered “townie” unused to living in the country. He has moved to Portwenn after his job as a leading vascular surgeon at London’s Imperial College becomes untenable when he develops haemophobia – a phobia of blood. He has to stop practicing surgery and finds work as a seaside GP instead.

The plot each week revolves around his dealings with the local villagers. Although his medical expertise is unquestionable, he has no social skills whatsoever and offends just about everyone he meets!


Filming locations

Fans of Doc Martin enjoy visiting Port Isaac to see the filming locations. One of the most familiar sights is Fern Cottage, which attracts fans from across the world, as it portrays Doctor Ellingham’s surgery.

The cottage is just 100 metres up from the harbour, on the coastal path heading for Port Quin. When filming of each series has finished, fans can rent the cottage for a holiday in the “doctor’s surgery”.

Doydens Castle at Port Quin has also seen some action in Doc Martin, as the pharmacist in the series, Sally Tishell, revealed her long-standing crush on the doctor there in series five.

However, her plans for a romantic rendezvous were thwarted – as Martin ended up declaring his love for Louisa Glasson, the school head, whom he went on to marry.

In real life, Doydens Castle is owned by the National Trust and is also available for holiday rental.


Wedding scenes

The 12th-century St Nonna’s Church in Altarnun provided the location for the doctor’s wedding to Louisa. The first time was a disaster, as he was jilted at the altar, but the second time, the wedding went ahead.

The church was chosen because of its idyllic location, adjacent to Altarnun village green and river. It is also called the Cathedral of the Moor. Around 150 extras were drafted in for the wedding scenes and the church seated them comfortably.

A lot of the interior scenes are shot in Roscarrock Manor Farm on the outskirts of Port Isaac, which portrays the doctor’s surgery. The Liberal Club is the setting for the village shop in Doc Martin, while the Golden Lion Pub is used both as a set and as a place to socialise and enjoy a drink for the cast and crew after filming.


Personal life

In his personal life, Clunes received an OBE from the Queen in 2015 for services to drama, charity and the community of Dorset. He currently resides in Beaminster with his wife, Philippa Braithwaite. The couple have a daughter, Emily, aged 20.

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