Saturday, September 28, 2013

Martin Clunes: Doc Martin: ‘Nobody Likes Me’ (Spoiler alert: this blog is for those who have already seen Episode 4 of Series 6)

22 September, 2013
By Lina Talbot

A fast-moving episode this week presents at least six unusual medical cases to be diagnosed by Dr Martin (Martin Clunes) while he laments the stupidity of his flock. He may leave his patients unsure whether to be grateful or offended, but many a viewer must yearn for such an adept GP in their own local surgery.

Which is what this series does so well – it entices viewers to imagine themselves living in this magical place: Britain may be proud of its heritage of tight-knit provincial communities with their unconventional characters but, nowadays, where do most people live? In suburban estates or city blocks or towns hit by the recession with bleak high streets. Yes, I’ve been watching Robert Peston. Small wonder so many tune in to escape for an hour to idyllic Portwenn.

And indeed the main storyline starts with Dr Ruth (Eileen Atkins) moving into the village. From next door emerges John Moysey, disagreeable recluse, played by the redoubtable Ronald Pickup. Ah! – I anticipate plenty of interaction to savour between these two. Moysey quickly makes his stance against neighbourliness clear, but Ruth cannot help feeling concerned about him and keeping an eye out.

Meanwhile Bert Large (the splendid Ian McNeice) is clucking around his new lodger and ex-flame, the pharmacist Jennifer Cardew (Annabelle Apsion). What has she done with a needle in the bathroom, which she needs to conceal later behind an eye patch? Bert’s son Al (Joe Absolom) also feels in the mood as he watches tourist couples in the streets. But when his new landlady Morwenna (Jessica Ransom) tries to assist, her cute but cool mate Janice (Katie Moore) produces a put-down to give many a viewer pause for thought. What a bi-atch!

I wish Caroline Catz would be given more to do as Louisa than find fault and nag… This week she has a showdown with Martin over James Henry’s need to be taken to the babies’ play circle. Since she cannot go, he must. Oh no – torture by mothers and babes! Martin Clunes pulls off a tour de force as the unamused doc manages to restrain himself from a sociopathic outburst whilst being goaded by childish toys and singsong. For me, the highlight of the episode – the good doc does not bow to social convention. How I wish I could be more like him.


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