She had a well-received cameo in Doc Martin in 2015, and now Hollywood superstar Sigourney Weaver is set to join the series in a full role.
The actress, aged 67, is a huge fan of the series and will be reprising her role of Beth Traywick, an American visitor to the seaside town of Portwenn.
Find out what Martin Clunes thinks about the actress in our new interview by Alison James:
He’s a self-effacing sort is Martin Clunes. Many actors can’t help but ‘big’ themselves up but not Martin. When, for instance, we congratulate him on the eighth series of Doc Martin – with a ninth already commissioned – he immediately ‘bigs’ up Philippa Braithwaite, his wife of 20 years, who produces the show.
‘Nobody works harder than Philippa,’ he beams as we chat on the purpose-built set of the Doc’s surgery in Cornwall. ‘She goes on such a journey with every series to get eight episodes out. There are always six or seven drafts of every episode to work through – which means that there are getting on for 60 scripts in total. It’s a massive amount of work to make sure the final shooting scripts are varied yet the same yet still surprising – we don’t want to repeat ourselves. I can’t stress enough how much pressure it is on her to get eight hours out. I don’t have much input - she only lets me read the scripts really late on!’
Living and working together doesn’t work for some couples but Martin and Philippa couldn’t be happier.
‘It’s the way it’s always been for us and it’s fine,’ he explains. ‘The subject of “Doc Martin” does crop up at home at times but we do very different things on the show and we’re also partners in so many other things. There’s parenting our 17-year-old daughter Emily, farming, horses, dogs. . . There’s so much else that goes on between us to talk about.’
Is Doc Martin going to end?
‘Doc Martin’ is made every other year and it’s rumoured that the series after this, going out in 2019, will be the last. Surely not!
‘It might,’ Martin confirms. ‘That’s the last commission we’ve got and we are sort of working towards that being the end of it because it ought to end at some point. It’ll be time when it feels nice and natural. Then again, never say never. If people still like it and we think we can do it, let’s see. I’ll never get a better job, I love playing the grumpy Doc and being here and I like all the people. There are very few new people on our crew, we’ve all got kids whom we’ve watched growing up over the years. Emily was a little girl when we started and this summer, she drove herself down here. There’s a kind of love affair among the whole cast and crew. We’re so tight and fond of each other – it is absolutely lovely.’
What’s new for Doc Martin in series eight?
‘He and on/off wife Louisa are together,’ Martin reveals. ‘We simply couldn’t possibly do the ‘will-they/won’t-they?’ thing any longer. So, they are living together and exploring them co-habiting has been as much fun as anything else. The Doc’s redemption is how much he loves Louisa but she is thinking about becoming a child psychologist and, although he’s supportive he’s also slightly dismissive – not to mention old-fashioned, bitter and twisted! He’s kind of “Let’s give her enough rope and see if she hangs herself”! He’s also more of a disciplinarian with their young son, James.’
Martin Clunes and dogs
Dog-lover Martin couldn’t happier about one of his new co-stars for this series – a rescue terrier cross called Paddy.
‘Philippa met Paddy two years ago and wanted to write a storyline for him,’ he smiles. ‘In the meantime, he went and got himself a job on “Midsommer Murders” but Philippa was still determined to get him in. The writers were thinking they had to write something for him to do but actually all he needs to do is turn up. He gets on well with Buddy, Mrs Tishell’s dog, and it’s been great fun to play Doc Martin having to live with a dog. He can’t stand them but they love him!’
Caroline Quentin and Sigourney Weaver in Doc Martin
Other memorable co-stars this series include Martin’s old ‘Men Behaving Badly’ girlfriend Caroline Quentin – or ‘Quenty’ as he affectionately calls her, and Hollywood leading lady, Sigourney Weaver, who is reprising her role as belligerent American tourist, Beth Traywick.
‘Sigourney appeared in the last series and we didn’t dare hope that she might want to come back,’ Martin goes on. ‘But we found out through actress Selina Cadell, who plays Mrs Tishell and who is a very old friend of Sigourney’s, that she was really keen to do “Doc Martin” again. She’s so sweet. We sent her the script while she was on the set of the movie “Avatar 2” and she came back within just a few hours to say she loved everything.’
Never mind Hollywood guest stars, it has been said that the real star of Doc Martin is the Cornish village of Port Isaac which doubles for the fictional Portwenn. The village has become famous the world over thanks to the show.
‘We’ve all had long enough to adapt to each other and a lot of people have profited hugely and flourished, and new businesses have grown up as a result of Doc Martin,’ says Martin (55). ‘The production puts a lot of money into the local economy and we now have a trust fund with profits from our overseas sales going into it that does works for the benefit of Port Isaac and community projects. That was another of Philippa’s ideas!’
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