Doc Martin ‘Sickness and Health’ – Series 6, episode 1
As expected by the faithful fan base, Dr Martin Ellingham (Martin Clunes) marries his Louisa (Caroline Catz) – possibly the only woman in Cornwall who can live in the same house with him – and all does not go according to plan. Naturally the antisocial Martin is sorely tested by the customs of a wedding, but everyone remains tolerant and good-humoured. A good comedy moment arises when “just cause” against their marriage is raised in church – by young James Henry, their already wise babe-in-arms.
Later the mood is more fraught. An abundance of villagers have invited themselves to the reception for the doc’s free food, cider and off the cuff medical advice. The surprise gift of a night in a lodge far away from them all sounds more to his liking, but will the viewer see the twosome spend a romantic evening together? Of course not. Martin’s open hearth fire encounters a blocked flue, soot and unhealthy fumes fill the lodge and the pair must evacuate in the most unsuitable clothes ever for a cross-country hike.
Martin was doubtless not in the Scouts. He quickly ends up lost and with bad grace must work out how best to carry his wife over a river – rather than over a threshold. The couple will still have relationship problems to overcome despite being wed.
And then they encounter the one habitation for miles – the caravan of Bellamy (David Sterne), another misanthrope who could give Martin lessons in hostility to strangers. After a rather silly fall into a chicken coop and stand-off with a shotgun, Martin and Louisa at last face the first medical challenge. Their tomfoolery has led the irascible Bellamy to dislocate his shoulder. Luckily he turns out to be more of a teddy bear, happy to follow the doctor’s orders. The procedure looks both awkward and painful as the GP rotates the shoulder and the joint relocates with an audible click. I wonder, should Doc Martin come with a warning not to imitate any of the manoeuvres demonstrated?
Another slapstick moment from the good doc follows with scarcely a pause. After he clumsily demolishes the porch on top of the unfortunate Bellamy, he uncovers him to find glass shards embedded in his neck. Small wonder Bellamy is averse to strangers. But this initiates a scintillating sequence of medical MacGyverisms. Using Louisa’s veil to swab blood, and her hair clasp to clamp the carotid artery, Martin successfully sews the artery together with fishing line. Phew… one to remember should arterial blood ever spout from a slashed neck – knowing that the ambulance will never arrive in time.
Though I wonder – how did Louisa and the doc get Bellamy and his artery into the caravan?
Meanwhile… Aunt Ruth demonstrates she is truly the aunt of her nephew when, after rashly offering to look after James Henry, she reveals her own lack of mothering skills. Stuff she presumably thought never important in her life. Happily a blackout in her crumbling farmhouse brings in new cast member – and the only practical man in the village – electrician Mike Pruddy (Felix Scott). Amiable yet unhappy in love, he is also trained in home remedies and can settle babies too. I hope he stays clear of Morwenna.
But ensemble incidents with their trademark quirky sparkle are few in this opening episode of the new series, which is driven as much by action as by the characters. The focus is firmly on the main protagonists’ relationship. I feel for Louisa impelled by Martin at unholy speed over rough ground in her wedding shoes, and applaud her attitude when forced to assist during the carotid surgery. She will be the tougher partner.Tagged in: Doc martin, Martin Clunes
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