HANG DOG!

Will Sigour­ney Weaver – and a new waggy tail in the house – cheer Doc Martin up?

Daily Mail Weekend Magazine - - NEWS - Doc Martin, Wed­nes­day, 9pm, ITV. Tim Oglethorpe

Sigour­ney Weaver’s not the only A-list fan of Doc Martin. She en­joyed her cameo role as Amer­i­can tourist Beth Tray­wick two years ago so much that she pops up again in the new se­ries, but might there be another Hol­ly­wood star head­ing for the Doc’s home town of Portwenn? Tin­sel­town vet­eran Har­vey Kei­tel – best known these days for play­ing a suave gang­ster in those TV in­surance ads – is said to be itch­ing for a part in the ninth and fi­nal se­ries of the com­edy drama that’s due to be filmed next year.

‘I was chat­ting to Sigour­ney when she was film­ing and she said Har­vey’s very keen to be in­volved,’ says Ian McNeice, who plays handy­man- turned-whisky maker Bert Large. ‘Imag­ine that! Har­vey in full gang­ster mode like in those TV ads, wan­der­ing through Portwenn. It’s a hi­lar­i­ous idea.’

Art Ma­lik and Caro­line Quentin also guest in this eighth se­ries of the show that’s be­come a global hit since it be­gan film­ing in the Cor­nish vil­lage of Port Isaac 13 years ago. Thou­sands of peo­ple from all over the world de­scend on the vil­lage to watch film­ing and dis­cus­sion groups spring up across the globe, earnestly de­bat­ing the lat­est sto­ry­lines af­ter an episode has aired. Fans of Martin Clunes, who plays the cur­mud­geonly Doc, call them­selves Clu­natics, while Ian McNeice has the Bert Large Lovers Group. They held a din­ner at a Port Isaac res­tau­rant in Ian’s hon­our while this se­ries was be­ing filmed.

The Doc is in full- on work mode as the se­ries be­gins. In the open­ing episode alone he has to deal with a fish­er­man caught in a sticky sit­u­a­tion on the beach, a highly in­fec­tious virus, po­lice­man Joe Pen­hale in ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain ahead of his wed­ding and a fresh-faced fe­male cu­rate with a po­ten­tially fa­tal med­i­cal con­dit ion. Then there’s his oc­ca­sion­ally tur­bu­lent home life too.

‘ The Doc is sen­si­ble enough to re­alise he has to be at­ten­tive to his mar­riage and try and make things work be­tween him and Louisa af­ter they had coun­selling dur­ing the last se­ries,’ says Mar tin. ‘He also wants to be a good fa­ther to their young son James Henry, who says his first word in the new se­ries.’ Martin, 55, is a well-known dog lover and of­ten brings his three dogs to the set – in fact vis­i­tors to Port Isaac are pretty much guar­an­teed a chat with him if he spots them with a four- legged friend. Aside from the Doc’s pet Buddy – played by ten-year- old mon­grel Dodger – the new se­ries will see another mutt mak­ing its mark. Bob, a stray played by Paddy, ar rives on the Doc’s doorstep and stakes a claim for a berth on his sofa. ‘My wife Philippa, who pro­duces Doc Mar t in, s aw Paddy with the dog trainer So­nia when she’d just got him two years ago and knew we had to find a role for him in this se­ries,’ says Martin. ‘So­nia has such a lovely way with Dodger and Paddy. She trains them so kindly and they just love do­ing stuff on the show. You can see all this youth and ex­u­ber­ance in Paddy’s eyes.’

It was an al­to­gether more danger­ous an­i­mal that al­most did for the show’s lead­ing lady Caro­line Catz dur­ing film­ing though. Tak­ing a walk along the cliff path near Port Isaac, things al­most went dis­as­trously wrong. ‘I rounded a cor­ner and came face to face with five enor­mous bul­locks that had es­caped from a farmer’s field,’ she ex­plains. ‘They were com­ing to­wards me, it was ter­ri­fy­ing. But I man­aged to crawl un­der a fence and through the field to safety be­fore the farmer res­cued the cat­tle. It was a very scary episode.’

Sigour­ney as Beth and (above) Martin with Paddy and Dodger

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