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Doc Martin star Martin Clunes on ‘giving the Marvel movies a run for their money’ in the final visit to Cornwall

Martin Clunes as Doc Martin
Outstanding in his field. Martin Clunes as grumpy GP genius Doc Martin. (Image credit: ITV)

With off-beat storylines, unexpected humour, excellent guest stars and endearing, colourful characters, comedy Doc Martin has been entertaining audiences since 2004.

Yet all good things must come to an end and, eighteen years after making his debut as grumpy doctor Martin Ellingham, it’s time for Martin Clunes to hang up the Doc's stethoscope.

Doc Martin season 10, premiering on ITV on Wednesday, September 7 2022 at 9 pm will, sadly, be its last. 

What To Watch can reveal that in the first visit of eight (excluding the much-anticipated Christmas special this December) to picturesque Portwenn, the Doc is no longer the village GP. Instead, he spends his days with his children, James Henry and Elizabeth Mary, is fixated on fixing clocks and reading medical books, while driving his child counsellor wife Louisa (Caroline Catz) to distraction.

Happily, this week’s guest star Fay Ripley (Cold Feet) inadvertently kickstarts the Doc's return to medicine, and order is restored — as much as it can be! — for an action-packed final series. 

Here, Martin Clunes reveals what fans can expect and why now is the right time to say farewell…

How is Doc Martin when we catch up with him?

Martin Clunes: "When we left off last time he’d resigned. At the beginning of this first episode we find him twiddling his thumbs. Louisa has moved into his consulting room, because she’s a practising child therapist, and a certain Fay Ripley turns up with a medical condition that only he can identify and fix!"

Fay Ripley's Abigail with Doc Martin.

The final series of Doc Martin promises a wealth of guest stars, including Fay Ripley [pictured] as struggling mum Abigail. (Image credit: ITV)

How do you feel about this being the last-ever series?

MC: "I’m in a numb denial at the moment. When we first started shooting back in February I was wistful, thinking ‘I must drink this in.’ Then the pressure of the work took over, so I didn't have time for those thoughts! Now the end is coming closer, art is imitating life - in the final episode the Doc and Louisa are packing up their house to leave Portwenn for London. Seeing the boxes and the bare set for those scenes is moving. There’s a goodbye scene with Jessica [Ransom, who plays receptionist Morwenna] that had us all in tears.

Can fans expect an action-packed final series?

MC: "We’re giving the Marvel movies a run for their money! The Doc’s blood phobia comes under scrutiny. Doc and Louisa have another baby — Mary Elizabeth. He’s as impatient with people as ever, but is a happy parent. But he has had to be reminded that you can’t bend everyone to your will, which is reflected in the Christmas special. There’s his continuing love affair with his wife, coupled with his lack of tolerance — having her practise in the same building has its penalties! We also have a new dog called Chicken, played by rescue dog, Taffy."

Doc Martin with wife Louisa, son James Henry, daughter Mary Elizabeth, and Chicken the dog.

Doc Martin with wife Louisa, son James Henry, daughter Mary Elizabeth, and Chicken the dog. (Image credit: ITV)

Is that because Dodger, who played Buddy, has retired?

MC: "Yes, but Dodger comes along and sees everyone [on set] with trainer Sonia and all her lovely dogs including Taffy and Paddy, who is the dog from Midsomer Murders. She’s got all the big name dogs! 

"It’s a shame we’re not carrying on because Taffy’s got such energy and enthusiasm. In story terms he’s more for James Henry. The Doc remains unmoved, but tolerates him because his wife and son are keen."

Fans of Doc Martin enjoyed watching filming in Port Isaac, which doubles for fictional Portwenn. Have you had feedback from them about this being the last series?

MC: "A lot of the American fans have been quite philosophical about the series ending. They say they love the show but know we have to finish it. And we do. We all know that. It's time to close the book. I will never get a job as good as this again, in terms of the sheer joy of it. But it has to be done now, otherwise we would be repeating ourselves."

What are your feelings on revisiting Port Isaac in the future?

MC: "It would be odd — I never come into Port Isaac without a film crew! I didn't foresee the impact it would have on our families. My daughter Emily was down recently and said that, as she was driving away, she started crying thinking she’d never go there again. I feel sort-of guilty for bringing that on her. She was a baby when we first went to Port Isaac and is 23 now. Cornwall is beautiful, I’m sure we’ll come back here."

Do you have your eye on any set souvenirs?

MC: "I’m very fond of the RSPCA charity spaniel that sits outside Mrs Tishell’s chemist, but that’s hired. I don’t know if the prop house will sell it to me. We’ll have to talk!

What have been your favourite moments from Doc Martin?

MC: "It’s a bit naff to say, but it’s all been a highlight. Things like abseiling down a cliff wearing a suit and carrying a medical bag with dear old Richard Johnson stuck in my memory. I did actually do the abseiling. Walking out over the edge of the cliff was quite alarming. The Doc and Louisa’s wedding was pretty spiffy too!"

What will you miss most about playing the Doc?

MC: "I’m going to miss all sorts of things. I’d like to have his order and precision in reality. I’m quite chaotic and messy. So a bit of his neatness and ordered route through life appeals. It’s not going to happen!"

When and where can I watch Doc Martin Season 10?

Episode 1 of Doc Martin premieres on ITV on Wednesday September 7 at 9pm. It will be available on ITV Hub after transmission. 

What’s happening with the Cornish village’s other characters in episode one?

Former receptionist Morwenna (Jessica Ransom) is now an estate agent, her husband Al (Joe Absolom) runs a food truck, and Al’s dad Bert (Ian McNeice) has invited himself to stay — on their anniversary. 

Chemist Mrs Tishall’s (Selina Cadell) devotion for the Doc remains undimmed — she's running a petition to get him reinstated. 

The Doc’s formidable aunt Ruth (Eileen Atkins) is working with him on overcoming his blood phobia.

Highlights to watch out for during the final series...

Guest stars galore

Doc Martin has attracted a wealth of guest stars during its time, including Sigourney Weaver, Caroline Quentin, Roger Lloyd Pack, Anne Reid, and Julie Graham. The final series is no different!

"We really lucked out this year," says Martin. "We’ve got Fay Ripley, Hermione Norris, Rupert Graves, Ken Cranham, David Hayman, Ben Miller and Lesley Nicol. We've done really well!"

Vincent Franklin also reprises his role as Chris Parsons.

Bugged by the Doc. Vincent Franklin also reprises his role as Chris Parsons. (Image credit: ITV)

Going out with a bang

Over the years Doc Martin has had enough kidnappings, catastrophes and clifftop tumbles, and this year they’re upping the ante…

"There’s a lot of action - things blowing up and things going off cliffs," reveals Joe Absolom, who plays Al Large. "This series I get to jump in the sea and rescue someone - twice. I also run away from a burning caravan that explodes!"

Louisa’s father returns

Doc Martin fans will remember Ken Cranham popping up in 2006 as Louisa’s dodgy father, Terry Glasson. Well, he’s back!

"Ruth hasn’t met Louisa’s father before and she’s immediately suspicious of him. She is sussing him out!" reveals Dame Eileen Atkins, who plays formidable Aunt Ruth. ‘"t’s been fun because Ken Cranham is an old friend, who I've known forever."

Christmas presence

After the eight-part series reaches a dramatic finale, there’s one more visit to Portwenn for a Christmas special in December. Jessica Ransom, who plays Morwenna, reveals it’s a festive treat to look forward to…

"It’s really special. We filmed a night shoot in February, the Christmas lights were up, and it was amazing. I’ve never seen the village look like that before."

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 (opens in new tab)www.whattowatch.com (opens in new tab) 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.