Doc Martin star Dame Eileen Atkins: ‘We have to stop thinking it’s all over at 80!’ (VIDEO)

(Image credit: AP/Press Association Images)

At 81 Dame Eileen Atkins could be forgiven for turning down scripts and putting up her feet but the renowned star of stage and screen says that just like her Doc Martin alter ego Dr Ruth Ellingham, she has no plans to retire.

Talking to What’s on TV on the set of Doc Martin, Dame Eileen said: "I’m obviously not looking so hot because they’ve given [Ruth] an illness, and they’re trying to make me retire. Which is really good, because it is a difficult thing for most people. I don’t know how people enjoy their retirement so much – I’m glad that some people can, but it would be a dread thing for me to retire and it’s a dread thing for Ruth, too.”

While filming the current series of Doc Martin, Dame Eileen celebrated her 81st birthday.

She said: “It’s rather a relief being 81, you stop being ‘the milestone’… One has to stop thinking it’s all over at 80!”

She added: “I enjoy work. People say to me ‘why don’t you just go out and have a good time?’ And I say ‘the good time is working!’ That’s how I feel about it."

Eileen also sang the praises of Martin Clunes and the Doc Martin cast: “It’s always wonderful here. I love working with Martin. I love all the cast. Martin has surrounded himself with first-rate actors. So that makes it much more fun to play. You’re not working with a dodo ever... Somebody who just can’t do it. Which sometimes does happen!

“Everything’s nice about Doc Martin and it’s come at a perfect time in my life. Martin is wonderful and makes a wonderful atmosphere, all the actors in it are extremely good, it’s a heavenly location, I've loved Cornwall ever since I came down here as a teenager, and it’s beautifully run. The whole atmosphere down here is just lovely.”

For the full interview with Dame Eileen Atkins, watch the video above."]

Elaine Reilly
Writer for TV Times, What’s On TV, TV & Satellite Week and What To Watch

With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.


As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast. 

After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.