Alan Waldman: ‘Doc Martin’ is Quirky Brit Comedy-Drama That’s Popular Worldwide


Waldman’s film and TV
treasures you may have missed:

Martin Clunes, terrific as a crabby, small-town doc who’s afraid of blood, is supported by a wonderful cast playing loony locals.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | July 9, 2013

[In his weekly column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland. Most are available on DVD and/or Netflix, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

Doc Martin, now shooting its sixth charming season, is popular in more than 30 countries around the world, including Slovenia and Saudi Arabia. Foreign-language adaptations have aired in Germany, France, Spain, The Netherlands, and Greece — and Russia may be next. So far, 39 episodes have aired in the U.S. since 2004, and re-runs can often be seen on local PBS stations. Mine shows them on Saturday evenings.

Martin Clunes is Martin Ellingham (his surname’s an anagram for the name of creator Dominic Minghella), a London surgeon who develops a phobia to blood and who relocates to the picturesque Cornwall Village of Port Wenn, becoming the area’s general practitioner. He is gruff, intolerant, and rude to people, but over time he develops a relationship with, marries, and has a child with local headmistress Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz).

Martin Clunes and Caroline Catz.

The community is full of quirky, amusing characters, including a plumber-turned-restaurateur (Ian McNeice), his son (Joe Absolom), Martin’s aunts (Stephanie Cole, followed by Dame Eileen Atkins), local cops, and a series of three dippy receptionists, among others.

Doc Martin won the British Comedy Award and was nominated for 10 other honors — eight for Clunes as Best Actor or Most Popular Actor. The series’s huge popularity may be due to its combination of character comedy and medical drama. The final episode of Season 3 attracted a massive audience of 10.37 million people.

All episodes are on DVD, Netflix, and Netflix streaming, and most are on YouTube. Here’s one. See why millions around the world love this funny, odd-ball series.

Clunes is truly delightful in Doc Martin, and as I mentioned in a previous review, he is hilarious in the wonderfully madcap TV series Reggie Perrin.

[Oregon writer and Houston native Alan Waldman holds a B.A. in theater arts from Brandeis University and has worked as an editor at The Hollywood Reporter and Honolulu magazine. Read more of Alan Waldman’s articles on The Rag Blog.]

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One Response to Alan Waldman: ‘Doc Martin’ is Quirky Brit Comedy-Drama That’s Popular Worldwide

  1. Susie S says:

    You hit this one out of the ballpark. Doc Martin is an amazing piece of script writing with the extremely talented Martin Clunes and the rest of the cast creating a smart, funny, yet touching don’t-take-your-eye-off-the-screen production. It can be re-watched more than once, as you just can’t take all the cleverness in, in one watching. And having recently visited the village of Port Isaac (Port Wenn in the show) where it is filmed, let me tell you the village is just what you see on the telly–quaint, gorgeous, and a lovely place to spend a week or more. The show led me to the place and now back to the show. Can’t wait for Series 6–but be forewarned: hurry to hulu.com or Netflix or the public library if you live in Portland and watch all 5 series to get up to speed. Don’t think you’ll regret it, if you give it a chance. And yes, I am a rabid fan!

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