Martin Clunes talks about being ill during the filming of Series 6 of the hit comedy drama, how the production has arranged a thank you gift to the people of Port Isaac for the loan of their picturesque village, and what we can expect from the latest episodes...
Talking about Port Isaac, the real-life location which doubles for Portwenn, Martin says: "For four months of the year we take over the village to make the series and we decided to give something back to the community for 'borrowing' the village for several months during the spring and summer and welcoming us each time, and putting up with us," says Martin. "So we are donating a percentage of the profits from the series to a special Trust Fund set up to benefit the community.
"Undoubtedly Doc Martin has changed the character of the village. It has done the business and tourist industry a lot of good, and brought people into the village. But with that comes the fact the locals lose a bit of peace some times. It felt we should give something back to the village.
"Port Isaac has changed dramatically since we first started filming in the village. On a fine day there are thousands of people who come to watch us. The number of people who come to see us now is phenomenal, particularly people from America."
A primary school in the nearby village of Delabole, which is used to film the classroom scenes for Portwenn School was also given a donation to create a nature trail, which Martin officially opened. "Local people have been very kind to us. When I returned to filming after a bout of illness early in the shoot people said some sweet things to me about hoping I was feeling better because they'd heard I had been ill.
"I had a viral infection which left me with no stamina. I couldn't cross a room, couldn't walk the dogs certainly, and couldn't really eat, so I had to take a couple of weeks off. I haven't had a day off work because of health ever, until this recent illness. Luckily there were all these bits in the schedule without me so they could shuffle it up the filming order and schedule all my stuff to a later date. I am fully recovered, back on top, and a stone lighter.
"I always try to lose a bit of weight before I play Doc Martin. But I have lost so much weight this time, nearly three stone since January, that I had to have new suits for the role. The costume department couldn't just alter the existing suits, there was too much to take in. I have put back some weight, but I'm happy about that."
The opening of the new series sees the Doc putting on a suit for his wedding to long time love Louisa Glasson. "At the end of the last series there was a genuine resolve from them to make their relationship and family life work, and in the gap between then and the start of the new series they have decided to get married.
"It is as scary as any marriage is on the day, but seems the right thing to do. There are incidents on the honeymoon, but they emerge from all that drama unscathed as a couple. The challenge this series is to make them live together and to get on in whatever way they can, or can't.
"The day we filmed the wedding was freezing, in a freezing cold church. I have never known it that cold. It was meant to be summer, with everyone dressed skimpily. We went onto film three nights in the woods, which was even colder."
It is not long before the trials and tribulations of married life begin to weigh heavily on the Doc though. "Slowly the Doc feels crowded by his symptoms; his blood phobia starts to come back, and then everywhere seems noisy and unpeaceful. Whilst he loves his son he is often messy and tiresome and has care issues all of which gets in the way of being Doc Martin.
"He keeps getting things wrong and in his frame of mind he convinces himself it must be a medical problem so he tries to self-diagnose. He does ECG, urine tests, blood tests, and keeps weighing himself.
"I think he is aware that he has to deal with it somehow but he feels he is not equipped to deal with it and withdraws into himself, which frustrates Louisa and makes her feel she is banging her head against a brick wall with him whatever she tries. It reaches a sort of crisis point when he is at last able to ask for help from Aunt Ruth, who is the only person in the world who can give it to him.
"This series is a real rollercoaster with more surprises than we have ever had before in lots of ways. We have lent on the other characters more so it is not just the Doc and Louisa. There are storylines for the other regular characters, while still keeping the bones of doc Martin."
Use the menu bar above on the left to find out more about the new series. Meanwhile Martin Clunes is keeping himself busy, this autumn he is flying to Kenya to make a documentary for ITV about the work of wildlife conservationist Tony Fitzjohn.