No, I’m not ill: I’ve been remarkably energetic lately, what with decorating the bedroom (now a lovely shade of aqua) and moving things around, but come the evening I’m fit for nothing but a sprawl on the new sofa and a binge-watch of good drama. We can’t seem to find much worth watching on terrestrial TV, hence Britbox where we found no fewer than all 9 series of Doc Martin.
I say drama but it’s also quite like sitcom with stock characters Large and Son doing their own Only Fools and Horses sub-plot, but most of it is drama with comic moments (I’m resisting the word dramedy but I guess that’s how you’d describe it.)
For the benefit of the two and a half people who have been asleep for the last decade, Doc Martin centres on a character with autism and his struggles to connect with the rest of society – or to be more accurate, the rest of society’s struggles to connect with him, in particular his eventual wife, normal-human-being Louisa Glasson. Martin Ellingham (we’ve just sussed that the name is an anagram of writer Minghella) is cold, unemotional and spectacularly rude, but is redeemed by being an excellent doctor who genuinely cares about the health of the community he serves.
Comic staples aside, there is a real authenticity to the characters, not only the doc and Louisa but his aunts Joan (Stephanie Cole) and Ruth (Eileen Atkins), the former a farmer and the only person who cared about Martin as a child, the latter a dry, sardonic but decent woman, herself a retired psychologist. And of course there’s an endless parade of patients with interesting problems: part of the pleasure of watching is in trying to figure out what’s wrong with them before the doc does.
But perhaps the greatest joy of watching this is in the setting. Port Wenn (real-life Port Isaac) is stunningly beautiful in the way only a Cornish village can be, with fantastic coves, bays, headlands, twisty roads and cottages all providing a variety of locations and, since it’s always sunny when they film, a great antidote to these cold grey winter days.