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Martin Clunes — things you didn’t know about the Doc Martin star

Martin Clunes
Martin Clunes has become one of Britain’s best-loved actors. (Image credit: Alamy)

Martin Clunes is one of Britain’s best-loved actors and has played the lead role in ITV’s Doc Martin since 2004. The popular drama is back for Doc Martin season 10, following the adventures of the grumpy GP and locals in the fictional Cornish fishing village of Portwenn. The doc might be lacking in bedside manner, but friendly Martin couldn’t be more different.

After making his TV debut 40 years ago, Martin rose to fame for his portrayal of beer-guzzling slob Gary Strang in the sitcom Men Behaving Badly. Possessing a brilliant range, he’s played all kinds of characters – from actor Richard Burbage in the 1998 award-winning movie, Shakespeare in Love to Reginald Perrin in the re-make of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, and more recently Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton in ITV's Manhunt.

Away from the cameras, Martin and his TV producer wife, Philippa Braithwaite live on a 130-acre farm in Beaminster, Dorset with a menagerie of animals. Sounds pretty fun, huh? Here are a few other facts you might not know about Martin…

Martin Clunes followed in his father's acting footsteps

Martin Clunes was born on 28th November 1961 in Wimbledon, London and has an older sister called Amanda. Acting is clearly in Martin's DNA. His father was the late actor and theatrical manager Alec Clunes and his mum's cousin was Jeremy Brett who played Sherlock Holmes in the long-running series.

Martin’s interest in acting started after he watched Peter O’Toole’s performance in the film Murphy’s War. He told The Guardian: “It was set somewhere with lovely blue seas, and O’Toole’s then real-life wife, Siân Phillips, played his love interest. Blue seas, blue skies, and real love – I thought, 'That’s gotta be the business for me.'" 

Martin’s first job was on the stage at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester, followed by his TV debut in the 1982 adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s, The White Guard. As a jobbing actor, Martin supplemented his income by working as a photo model for collaborative art duo, Gilbert and George.

Martin Clunes as Doc Martin

Martin's portrayal of the grumpy GP has been a hit with viewers. (Image credit: ITV)

Harry Enfield gave him his lucky break

Comedian Harry Enfield spotted Martin’s star potential after watching him on stage at the Hampstead Theatre. The pair become friends and when Enfield was cast as the lead Dermot in the sitcom Men Behaving Badly he recommended Martin for the role of fellow lager lout, Gary. 

Although Harry quit the show after just one series, Martin stayed put and was joined by new sidekick Neil Morrissey, who played hopeless Tony. Their character’s ridiculous laddish antics were a huge hit with viewers, and Martin scooped the 1996 BAFTA Television Award for Best Comedy Performance. 

However, both Martin and Neil have ruled out a return of the show, saying their character's sexist behaviour wouldn't be suitable for modern audience. 

He’s a successful voiceover artist

Martin has an instantly recognisable face, but did you know he’s also been a rather successful voiceover artist? Who remembers the adorable children’s animated series, Kipper the Dog? Well Martin was the voice behind the eponymous pooch. 

For six years, between 1993-1999, Martin provided the voice of Harry for supermarket Safeway’s advertising campaign, When Harry met Molly. He's also narrated numerous documentaries for ITV, including Islands of Britain, Secrets of Growing Up and Britain’s Favourite Dogs.

The cast of Men Behaving Badly

Martin as Gary in Men Behaving Badly.  (Image credit: ITV)

He’s married to the producer of Doc Martin

Working on Doc Martin is a real family affair for Martin, whose wife Philippa Braithwaite is the producer of the hit medical drama. The couple, who are business partners in their company Buffalo, have worked together on countless productions. They got married in 1997 and welcomed their daughter, Emily in 1999. 

Emily, who made a brief appearance as a schoolgirl in the fourth series of Doc Martin, is now 23 and an accomplished event horse rider who has competed in several show jumping competitions. Both Emily and Philippa have inspired Martin’s own love of the animals. 

The family keeps a number of horses on their farm in Dorset, including a pair of Clydesdales called Ronnie and Bruce, who have starred in their own TV show. And since 2011, Martin has held the role of president for the British Horse Society.

Martin Clunes with his wife

Martin with his wife Philippa.  (Image credit: Getty)

He's a huge animal lover

Martin isn’t just a fan of foals, it would seem he’s a lover of all creatures great and small. In 2014, he hosted a one-off documentary titled Martin Clunes & A Lion Called Mugie, where he travelled to Kenya over a period of three years, tracking the progress of the magnificent beast. 

Back in Britain, Martin and Philippa share their home with two cats, half a dozen hens, a cockerel, cattle, six horses and three dogs. 

Last year, Martin and his canine companions took part in a campaign to launch the 2021 Guide Dogs Appeal. The star posed alongside his Cocker Spaniel called Bob Jackson, Parsons Jack Russell named Jim, Jackahuahua named Penny, as well as Bob Jackson’s mum, Cocker Spaniel Heidi. 

TV tonight Martin and a giant tortoise on the Galápagos Islands

Martin is passionate about creatures big and small. (Image credit: ITV)

He's got a loyal army of fans

Martin’s curmudgeonly character in Doc Martin might not be the most obvious sex symbol, but in the 18 years of playing him, the actor has built up an adoring fan base. 

In a chat with Saga Martin confessed his loyal supporters call themselves ‘The Clunatics’. “They’re a global band of fans who are friends with one another, stay in touch and often visit Port Isaac in Cornwall where we film,” he shared. “Sometimes they bring gifts, an Australian lady recently came with a stuffed duck-billed platypus for me.” How exotic! 

First look at Doc Martin Season 10, with Martin, Louise and the kids.

Martin's gained an army of fans from playing Doc Martin. (Image credit: ITV)

He’s got another major role lined up

The Doc Martin chapter in Martin's life may have closed, but the in-demand star already has his next acting project in the pipeline. Currently, he's abroad filming in Papua New Guinea for another one of his Islands of the Pacific documentaries, and in 2023, Martin will take on the lead in a new thriller called Out There.

Spilling the beans to ITV's This Morning Martin said: "It's about the county drugs line selling business, set in rural Wales. It's been commissioned and we've got a few scripts in place, but shooting starts next summer." 

And of course, there's the highly-anticipated Doc Martin Christmas special, which will air later this year as a final farewell to the much-loved series.

Martin Clunes’ fact file

Frequently asked questions about the actor...

How old is Martin Clunes?

Martin Clunes is 60, he was born on 28th November 1961.

Is Martin Clunes married?

Martin's been married to TV producer Philippa Braithwaite since 1997.

Does Martin Clunes have any children?

Martin and Philippa have one daughter, Emily, who was born in 1999.

Where was Martin Clunes born?

Martin was born in Wimbledon, London.

How tall is Martin Clunes?

Martin is 6 foot 2. 

Laura Morgan
Freelance writer

Laura has been a journalist for over a decade, writing about soaps, TV entertainment, fashion, beauty, and food. After graduating from university, she started her career working at a national soap and TV magazine. During her seven-year stint there she joined the cast of Emmerdale for a tour around the famous village, partied with soap stars at awards bashes, interviewed her acting idol David Suchet, and sat in the front row of Strictly Come Dancing

Her heart lies with the soaps, and her all-time favourite character has to be EastEnders' Pat Butcher - no one rocked a big earring quite like her. She's also a huge fan of detective crime dramas, particularly old school Inspector Morse, Endeavour, and adaptations of Agatha Christie's Marple and Poirot. When she's not writing, she loves a spot of second-hand shopping and going on adventures with her young son.