Sunday, September 1, 2013
Kathy Griffiths picks her TV highlight of the week
DON'T know the details of how they shoot this popular light-hearted drama but I can only imagine it features frequent breaks to allow star Martin Clunes to crack a smile.
He certainly never get the chance when he's playing the po-faced Dr Ellingham.
Every time I have seen Clunes interviewed or hosting Have I Got News For You? (and you don't get to that gig six times unless you've got a sense of humour) he seems a lovely jolly chap which much make it all the more difficult to play someone who is so buttoned up.
In fact, as we begin this sixth series about the ex-surgeon who has ended up in a picturesque Cornish village as the local GP he takes stony-faced to new extremes, especially when you realise he is preparing for his marriage to head teacher Louisa (Caroline Catz).
You might think such a momentous and usually joyous occasion would elicit if not a smile than at least less of a scowl. Well, think again.
Despite an almost romantic declaration of his love for Louisa at the end of the last series (helpfully repeated through the summer to remind us how we left things in Portwenn), he does not seem to be gaining any pleasure from making her his wife at long last.
As usual his life is made much more difficult by the assembled cast of buffoons that call the village home too – chiefly the extravagantly-chinned Bert Large (Ian McNeice) with his get-rich-quick schemes and PC Penhale (John Marquez) who can manage to turn the most harmless event into a disaster.
As you would imagine the wedding causes plenty of problems. "Who are all these people?" Doc asks gruffily about the assembled church congregation eager to wish him well. "Guests" his new wife explains.
If I were Louisa I think I would have taken that as my cue to shove my bouquet somewhere where he would need forceps to remove it.
Strangely she still seems to find his brusque manner appealing, I am afraid after five series it has certainly begun to lose its charm with me.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that life as a newly married man will mellow the good doctor a little bit to just stern headmaster levels of crossness.
Fortunately his aunt Ruth (Eileen Atkins) manages to offer us some hope. If she can manage to juggle compassionate with down-to-earth and sensible, there's no reason why Martin can't too.
Certainly he is pushed to extremes when the honeymoon goes badly wrong. Being stranded in the middle of nowhere by a series of unfortunate (and entirely preposterous events) can't be easy and surely the doctor had a right to expect a day which began by giving an awkward patient a smear test would only get better?