Doc Martin was on our screens for between 2004 and 2019, providing viewers with consistently cosy Cornish comfort telly for 71 episodes.
Set in the sleepy seaside town of Port Wenn, the series follows Doc Martin, once a money-making London Surgeon he has now bumbled his way back to his hometown in Cornwall, where he becomes a neurotic and grumpy GP with a bad bedside manner, huffily helping hopeless locals.
We can’t imagine the Cornish are particularly chuffed with their portrayal in this series – eccentricity abounds in Port Wenn, which has a population saturated with foolish folk and silly situations waiting around every corner, helped only by one clumsy copper. But then again, this a comedy. As much as the townspeople don’t come across well, neither does the Doc himself. He has no time for small talk, can’t stop being crabby, and it’s revealed the reason he left the big smoke is because he’s subject to bouts of vomiting due to a fear of blood.
Despite all this rampant ridiculousness, Doc Martin is a staple family friendly hit, and clearly the slow-moving satire of small-town England was relatable for ITV’s viewers, whose demand kept the show going for nine seasons.
But it’s not just the Brits that go barmy for Doc Martin, as this twee telly has gone down well across the pond. The New York Times’s Elizabeth Jensen says that Americans have “plenty of room in their hearts” for “cantankerous” Doc, saying “through word of mouth… the show has popped.” And maybe they’re bigger fans than the Cornish themselves? Sam Wollaston in The Guardian says: “it’s a series that I think might make me cross, bordering on nationalistic, if I was Cornish. Sure, it looks lovely, and is probably good for tourism, but what about the way the locals are portrayed?” Fair portrayal or not, it seems the cheeriness of the show is enduring, with The Times’s Carol Midgely saying right up to the final season, Doc Martin “provided the usual trusty dose of feelgood escapism.”
First shown September 2004.