by Karen Gilleland © 2013
He may have a face like the back of a cab, but Martin Clunes, star of the British TV series, “Doc Martin,” exudes a magnetism that is attracting huge audiences around the world. Broadcast in 70 countries, the show also has been re-created with local actors in Spain, France and Germany, among other countries, including, most recently, Iran.
U.S. fans are eagerly awaiting the return of the “Doc” after a two-year hiatus. New episodes began in the UK September 2, topping the ratings. Acorn TV, a streaming video service similar to Netflix, will begin airing Series 6 in the United States on October 7. Streaming video services charge a small monthly access fee, but all programs are available 24 hours a day. If you haven’t seen “Doc Martin,” catch up on the five previous seasons via a streaming or DVD service before tuning into Series 6. Public Television is expected to broadcast new episodes in early 2014.
I came late to the “Doc Martin” party, discovering the show only a few months ago. Since then, I have watched all episodes many times. I’m not alone in my addiction. The Internet is crammed with blogs, web sites, fan clubs and YouTube music clips devoted to “Doc Martin” and its cast of quirky characters.
Produced by Martin Clunes’ wife, Philippa Braithwaite, the comedy/drama is about Dr. Martin Ellingham, “famously sharp knife” from London who, when afflicted with haemaphobia (fear of blood), must abandon his surgical practice to become a GP in a North Cornwall fishing village.
Although the “Doc” elevates rudeness to an art form, Martin Clunes has the charisma to make viewers care for this “vile” character that “unites the village in horror” (Clunes’ words). Despite the “Doc’s” personal flaws, the villagers count on his medical genius whenever one of them develops a mysterious disease. The UK requires TV shows to portray medical conditions accurately, so all the weird diseases the “Doc” treats are vetted by the show’s consultant, Dr. Martin Scurr.
Great scripting, laugh-out-loud humor and outstanding performances aside, the compelling power of “Doc Martin” lies in the tender scenes between the “Doc” and Louisa Glasson, played by the beautiful Caroline Catz. Those moments expose the human frailty of the “Doc” and touch the soul with the lightness of a feather.
TimeOut London wrote: “. . . this sort of gentle farce-cum-melodrama is much harder to pull off than it looks. To its credit, ‘Doc Martin’ makes it look very easy.”