Martin Clunes: 'Sigourney Weaver's idea to return to Doc Martin!'

Doc Martin 2017

Martin Clunes has given TV Times an interview about the return of Doc Martin and says it was Sigourney Weaver's idea to return

Doc Martin star Martin Clunes has given TV Times an interview about the return of his hit ITV comedy drama and reveals that it was Hollywood star Sigourney Weaver's idea to return.

What's the story?

It’s a warm welcome for TV Times, as we arrive on set for the eighth series of ITV’s hit comedy drama, which starts next Wednesday, and Martin, 55, is quick to assure us that nothing much has changed. The scenery is still spectacular, the residents of Portwenn remain eccentric and the doc has only got grumpier…

The good news for fans is that Martin and Louisa’s relationship has survived the storm of last series, and the pair are making a proper go of things, with the ‘help’ of a dog called Buddy, played by Dodger.

Here, Martin reveals details about the new series, why he thought the show might be axed and what the future has in store…

Martin Clunes TV Times interview

TV Times: This is the first time you’ve been commissioned for two series in one go – this one, and another run in 2019. That’s a great compliment for you and your wife Philippa [Braithwaite, the producer of Doc Martin]…

Martin Clunes: "We were delighted; how amazing. We were worried when the last series finished, because we were waiting for a commission and things went quiet. The call didn’t come, so Philippa emailed ITV Drama and they said, ‘Oh, we didn’t know how it works; we thought you just made the show and gave it to us!’ And then they came back with a commission for two series…"

TVT: Tell us about the four-legged addition to the household?

MC: "We couldn’t possibly carry on with the will-they-won’t-they between Martin and Louisa [Caroline Catz], so they’re back together and we’re now exploring the idea of them co-habiting, with their son and new addition, Buddy the dog. Nothing annoys Martin more than sharing a house with a filthy, stinking dog."

TVT: You have great guest stars, and this year both Sigourney Weaver and your Men Behaving Badly mate Caroline Quentin will be back…

MC: "Yes, it was terrific having Caroline back – we all went to Rick Stein’s restaurant after filming. We didn’t dare hope Sigourney would want to do it again, but it was her idea! She’s friends with Selina Cadell, who plays Mrs Tishell, and she’s so sweet. After we sent her the script she got back to us almost immediately and said how excited she was. She’s got more to do this time; some lovely scenes. Art Malik and Samantha Spiro will be popping up, too."

Doc Martin Sigourney

TVT: Last series, we saw Martin and Louisa experience the pain of a trial separation. Are they on solid ground again now?

MC: "They do get on this series, but there are some changes in Louisa’s circumstances as she embarks on a career change and there’s a lot of torment about being a working mother. Martin’s supportive, but slightly dismissive, too!"

TVT: We hear there’s a rather dramatic stunt in store for the GP, which will be quite the ordeal for haemophobic Martin?

MC: "Yes, we have an episode that’s quite Tarantino-esque! One character has a bleed from the femoral artery, the one in your leg that’s a bit of a gusher. In real life, you’d bleed out in about four minutes."

TVT: The Doc is fundamentally quite rude and miserable – why do you think we love watching him?

MC: "Audiences like being frustrated by him and shouting at him. I think, ultimately, it’s because he’s a doctor in a suit and he fixes everything, but because we’re English we don’t like authority, so he gets banged into door frames every now and then [all of the door frames on the set are designed to be slightly too low for Clunes]. He’s definitely got grumpier since the first series – it’s a creeping disease."

TVT: You film in the sleepy fishing village of Port Isaac, it must be like a second home now?

MC: "Yes, we counted up the amount of time I’ve spent here and it adds up to three and a half years. There are very few new people on the crew, so we’ve all watched each others’ kids grow up. Our daughter Emily was born while I was filming Saving Grace [the 2000 film in which the Doc Martin character first appeared], and this summer she drove down to the set to visit us!"

TVT: Do the local residents enjoy seeing you here?

MC: "The crowds that watch filming are always really sweet and friendly. They bring their dogs along and, weirdly, they say thank you after I’ve said hello to their pet, like I’ve blessed it! The people of Port Isaac have had long enough to adapt to us being here and a lot of them have profited hugely – new businesses have grown up as a result, like the shuttle bus and tours."

TVT Do you think the 2019 series will be the grand finale?

MC: "Well, that is the last commission and we’re sort of working towards that being the end… it ought to at some point! But never say never. Personally, I’ll never get a better job, but it’s really hard for Philippa to produce eight episodes. There’s always six or seven script drafts to get it right and keep it varied, yet remain the same, but surprising and funny. It’s a massive ask and she’s about to go mad!"

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!