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Doc Martin


Martin Clunes (Dr Martin Ellingham)

Martin Clunes admits he was dreading having to put his life-saving skills to the test for an episode of the new series of Doc Martin.

Despite having learnt a lot about medical procedures from playing the grumpy Dr Martin Ellingham for the past three years, Martin has never had to resuscitate a patient on screen.

"In this series I had to do my first defibrillation. It was a big day in any TV doctor's life," says Martin.

"It was a big and nasty procedure. The defibrillation doesn't work and the doc has to pound the patient's chest to save her.

"I was dreading that day, and everyone was tense on set. We used a dummy to substitute for the actress who was the patient when I did the chest compressions because I wanted to be able to really pound. Every doctor says that is the one thing they hate seeing not being done correctly, so I wanted to get it right.

"You need two inches of compression to be effective, which is why ribs get broken all the time. You wouldn't want me to do that on a real person. I tried, but she minded!

"We have a paramedic on set and our doctor adviser came down from London for the scene. He was very encouraging and was pleased with my performance.

"It was a quite frightening experience, and we were kneeling in a pool of blood as well, which wasn't very nice."

There's heart problems of a totally different kind for the doctor in the new series as his on-off romance with headmistress Louisa Glasson looks set to blossom at last.

"The doc's romance with Louisa is really going very well in its strange way. They have proper dates that inevitably don't go to plan.

"Then they have a big date at a classical music concert where a rather nasty friend of Louisa's is performing.

"Louisa has invited the doctor to the concert and they are like a normal couple going out to an event. It is all going really well, until he lets himself down with a remark which proves to be the straw that breaks the camel's back. She chucks him and storms off, leaving him in pieces.

"It really takes the wind out of his sails and makes him behave in a twisted way. He becomes absent minded, and is not concentrating on what he is doing.

"Then they are thrown together at the end when he has to treat Louisa's best friend, who is staying at her house and is very ill."

What happens from there, we'll have to wait and see. Martin was delighted to return to Cornwall for nearly four months of filming.

"The crowds have got bigger since we started filming in Port Isaac. I know I don't live here but I do feel a little bit more at home without feeling it is my home. Now we have acquaintances here, not just the people we work with, but the people in the local garage, and the shops. It is like the relationships I have with the people in the shops near where I live, where we are on first name terms.

"But people definitely come to Port Isaac with the express purpose of visiting the set of Doc Martin. They all come up and tell us that. These are people from New Zealand, Canada, Australia and some in America who have seen the series on DVDs."

But not all the Doc Martin fans are respectful of local people's properties and their need to lead a normal life.

"People have been peering in the windows of the house we use for the doctor's house and knocking on the door and asking "is he in", Martin says.

"When we are filming the other side of the harbour you see people posing outside the house for pictures all day long. It is marked on the local tourist information for visitors as well as Doc Martin's house. It is a lovely house with beautiful views."

After filming finished in Cornwall Martin looked forward to spending time with his family in their new home in Dorset.

"We moved just three weeks after I came back from New Zealand where I filmed The Man Who Lost His Head, and I've just spent weekends at the new house since we started filming Doc Martin. So it is good to be home with my family again.

"I am going to ride my horse, which I bought when I came back from New Zealand. I have been having lessons but just riding him too is good.

"Riding in New Zealand with Philippa and Emily refuelled my interest in riding, and prompted me to buy my own horse.