Doc Martin – Five Reasons to Love It!

DVD Cover Doc Martin

Lately I have been having such a good time discovering new to me British programming. Comedies and dramas alike, for the most part everything I have watched has appealed to me on some level. The latest program that has struck my fancy is Doc Martin. I have watched the first season, which is shorter than the others and only consists of six episodes. I plan to watch the rest of the seasons and heartily recommend that you also watch this show.

Doc Martin is a British drama-comedy program. So far, seven seasons have aired – yearly at first then biennially – from 2004 to 2015. The eighth and final season will air in 2017. For US viewers, there are multiple ways to view it. It is available for watching on the website, a streaming service. I have also found it on local PBS stations, but if you are like me and want to start from the beginning and watch the seasons sequentially, it will require patience to use the latter source. All seven seasons of the series are also available on DVD.

When I was young, there were only a few TV doctors ranging from the kindly grandfather type, like Marcus Welby, MD, to the hunky swoon worthy type like Dr. Kildare or Ben Casey. Over the years medical shows have proliferated and changed, allowing for a greater variety of personality types for the characters leading to them becoming much more complex and diverse.

But, we still seem to be using tropes, and it seems one popular trope is for a doctor to not only be a wiz at diagnosis, but also to have some reason in their past that causes them to start over in a new place, or with a new career. An example of this trope is Dr. Hank Lawson from Royal Pains on USA. Then of course we have the other common trope of the main character being an atypical person with little to no social skills. The best example of a doctor with this trait is of course Gregory House, from House, MD.

On Doc Martin, we have the previously mentioned tropes in full use. Dr. Martin Ellingham was a highly successful surgeon in London. He unfortunately developed hemophobia, which is a fear of blood, effectively ending his career as a surgeon. So, he does what any self-respecting skilled doctor would do and finds a position in the sleepy village of Portwenn on the Cornwall Coast. He does have some history in Portwenn since his Aunt Joan owns a farm on the outskirts of the village and he would spend summers there when he was growing up. He totally lacks social skills, but is gifted as a diagnostician.

Let’s take a look at the reasons you should watch this wonderful show!

Aunt Joan

Aunt Joan - Doc Martin

Aunt Joan is Martin’s elderly aunt. She lives on a farm on the outskirts of town and sells her produce at the local market. Martin visited her on holidays as a boy due to an estrangement with his father. Heck, that is actually another trope – everyone seems to be estranged from their parent on TV!

One of the things that appeals to me about British programming is that the characters do not all look like super models. Joan is a perfect example of this. She is an older woman at peace with the fact that she has seen a lot of years, and does not try to hide it! Unlike on some US programs, Joan is clearly old enough to be the aunt of a middle aged man. She also is chuck full of wisdom and advice for Martin. And boy does he need it! Charming and hardworking are two other of her endearing traits.

The Dog

The dog - Doc Martin

No Martin does not have a dog. But, a dog seems to have him! From his first day in Portwenn, a shaggy dog has been hanging around the surgery, which is what they call his office/house. Martin wants nothing to do with the dog, but the dog will not follow instructions and leave him alone. Martin tries taking the dog to the police station to get him impounded, but the dog returned after escaping.

Every chance the dog gets, he enters the surgery. Martin keeps putting him out, and he keeps finding his way back in. Martin takes him to Aunt Joan’s farm, and he still returns. Clearly the dog does not want to miss all the fun that occurs inside the surgery and whenever Martin is around other people!

The Scenery

Martin and Louisa - Doc Martin

Set on the Cornwall Coast in a fictional small village, the show is filmed in the real village of Port Isaac in Cornwall. Most of the indoor settings are filmed in a local barn that has been converted.

It is an understatement to say the scenery is stunning. In particular, the coastal shots are absolutely fabulous. Add to that the charm of a small village and you have a complete picture of why the setting of this show is so charming.

The Quirky People

Bert and Al - Doc Martin

It is hard to turn on a TV today and not watch a program with eccentric characters. Doc Martin is no exception. Starting with the titular character, who I will discuss in my next point, this show has an abundance of characters that are idiosyncratic.

Consider Elaine, the receptionist for the surgery, who does very little actual work, and can’t even take a message correctly. Imagine the implications of working in a doctor’s office with that shortcoming! Her favorite phrase is “init,” short and slang for isn’t it. The park ranger, Stewart, has an imaginary friend that also happens to be a six foot squirrel! And then there is Bert, the town plumber, who manages to flood Martin’s house while trying to fix the pipes. His son Al has been forced into the plumbing business and would rather study computers.

The Doc

Martin - Doc Martin

And now we come to the titular character, Dr. Martin Ellingham. He hates it that the townspeople call him Doc Martin. He prefers to be addressed as either Dr. Ellingham, or Martin. It of course causes him much indigestion that they just ignore him.

He completely lacks tact, and has been known for staring intently at a person, which is pretty creepy. What he is actually doing is noticing some medical irregularity which he then blurts out with absolutely no preface. He is always right on medical matters, but not so much on related issues, such as when he caused a scare by prematurely declaring the tap water unsafe to drink.


Have you seen any episodes of Doc Martin? If so, what do you think of it? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below – I am always interested to hear what you think!