Friday, September 13, 2013

The Doc Martin effect (MARTIN CLUNES)

Friday, September 13, 2013
2:42 PM

BBE62A british actor Martin Clunes chats during a break in filming at port isaac in cornwall of the television series "Doc Martin"

Thirty years ago Port Isaac was just another picturesque village on the North Cornwall coast exuding an air of innocence. Along Fore Street pretty colour-washed cottages leaned against each other facing out across the harbour. The Grade 11 listed Old School House was a place to enjoy a cream tea and the original Life Boat Station building housed the Post Office and served as general store. In the 1980s Port Isaac had its own chemist, The Drugstore, with a connecting door to the adjoining miniscule Fish Shop, which served the best fish and chips and Cornish pasties for miles around to a steady stream of visitors.

Further down the road, a delightful couple, who had ‘emigrated’ from Surrey years before, ran a charming old fashioned clothes shop and jovial Eric was the village’s unofficial poet laureate writing poems for Trio, the local magazine. A few yards down the gently sloping main road, was Rose Hill, where the corner cottage and gift shop, ‘Demelza’, was named for the much loved heroine of the ‘Poldark’ series filmed locally. Close by on the bend was Squeezy Belly Alley, a tiny lane measuring eighteen inches at its most narrow. It enticed folk to peer through the shadows, to the entrance to the inner village - still crammed with former fishermen’s cottages of all shapes and sizes, built upon hills and down tiny lanes, bearing names like The Birdcage and The Pump.

But Port Isaac has changed – and who has changed it? A grumpy, fictional character called Doc Martin, who arrived in 2004.

Today instead of Barclays Bank which opened once a week, there is a shop selling Doc Martin merchandise and memorabilia.

During filming of the series Port Isaac transforms into Port Wenn, where the surly doctor can be seen striding back and forth, insulting everyone.

When filming was halted on Fore Street because of rain, a couple, sheltering beneath an umbrella, explained how they had travelled from New Zealand to see ‘Port Wenn’, never dreaming they would be watching the filming of a new episode. ‘Oh look’ squealed the woman ‘There’s the Doc!’ Actor Martin Clune, beneath a massive umbrella, was yawning widely, unaware that he was being watched, videoed and photographed by awe-struck fans.

Despite not all being happy about the filming, mostly they agree the popular Doc Martin series has cheered up the appearance of the ancient village. Cottages have been refreshed – and prices quadrupled. The small house used as Doc Martin’s surgery recently sold for more than £600.000! Now a signpost directs tourists who wish to photograph the house! Doc Martin has introduced the world to one of the most beautiful Cornish locales, convincing tourists to spend their money there.


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