Doctor Who star Samantha Spiro stars as Louisa’s nervy new friend Tina in Doc Martin – but what is she hiding?
There are many things Doc Martin does well – scenery, scenarios, genuine medical conditions and guest stars. In two week’s time Hollywood legend Sigourney Weaver returns for the series finale, but meanwhile talented homegrown guest stars have included Clive Russell, Art Malik and Kevin Doyle. This week queen of stage and screen, Samantha Spiro, joins the cast in a guest role that sees her dangerously driving Doc Martin’s wife Louisa to and from lectures – something that meant spending long hours filming in a ditch!
We caught up with Samantha Spiro - the versatile star of Grandma’s House, Babs and Tracey Ullman’s Show, who revealed more…
You appear in Doc Martin tonight – what can you tell us?
"I play Tina Collins who has become friends with Louisa through their child psychology course at college. Tina has a really frantic lifestyle because she’s doing this course, running her home, has three sons – and is an anxious person anyway!"
Did they have you doing anything outlandish for the role?
"I’ll put this this way; I was filming lying in a ditch quite a bit! It sounds absolutely awful but we had beautiful weather and laughed a lot. As the story unfolds we discover Tina’s taking online-bought drugs to assist her studies. It gets her into all sorts of trouble and Doc Martin has to step in and help her out, after lots of fun and games."
Did you spot Sigourney Weaver when you were on set?
"No, she wasn’t around but I think Cornwall was still recovering from the fact Sigourney Weaver had been down there. It’s quite a coo, isn’t it? It just shows the power of Doc Martin!"
Samantha Spiro joins the Doc in tonight's episode
In addition to Doc Martin you’ve appeared in other cult classics Game of Thrones and Doctor Who. Is that by accident or design?
"It’s just lucky really. The two Doctors came up at pretty much the same time. They’re quite different parts and I was really excited to do them because they’re both cult shows. It’s lovely to pop in, do one episode and work with people you always admired. It always turns out to be really good fun."
Babs was a big success this year too, but not the first time you’ve played Barbara Windsor...
"Yes, I played her on stage in Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick (1998), which was a really great job for me to get. I think it opened a few doors for me at the time. Terry Johnson turned it into a film for ITV too. Then after a 19-year break it came back up again, so I do seem to have spent a lot of my career playing Babs… I can certainly think of worse things to do! It was lovely to play her as a mature woman in Babs and capture her in a very thoughtful time of her life."
Is it surreal when you meet with her?
"It is quite a strange one but she’s so open and generous about it. I can imagine playing some people and feeling really awkward but she’s never been anything other than unbelievably supportive of me playing her. She always say to me (Sam adopts Barbara’s voice) ‘You’re more like me than me darlin’!’"
What’s next for you?
"I’m filming David Walliam’s book Grandpa’s Great Escape, which goes out on Boxing Day I believe. It’s got a really lovely cast. David plays the father, I play the mum and Tom Courtenay plays Grandpa - it’s a real thrill working with the legend that is Tom Courtenay. Jennifer Saunders is in it too and, funnily enough having never worked with her before, I’m doing a Lady Windermere’s Fan with her in the West End. Cathy Burke’s directing, so it should be a good giggle."
Samantha appears in Doc Martin tonight at 9.00pm.
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With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and www.whattowatch.com 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.