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Doc Martin: ‘Hazardous Exposure’ – Series 6, Episode 6

Lina Talbot

doc martin 2 300x217 Doc Martin: ‘Hazardous Exposure’ – Series 6, Episode 6SPOILERS: This review is for those who have already watched episode 6 of the current series.

Martin and Louisa find themselves in a right pickle this week. Martin cannot sleep, and tries hard not to disturb Louisa, but she still feels disturbed by her need to listen out for him…

Caroline Catz continues as Louisa in her attempts to mother her uptight husband (the ever magnificent Martin Clunes) – while he just clenches his jaw one notch tighter. Now if Martin were with the pert Morwenna (Jessica Ransom) they would get on better as neither would give a toss. On second thoughts, I don’t see that one either.

In happy contrast, the batty pharmacist Mrs Tishell (Selina Cadell) delights in bugging her temp Jenny (Annabelle Apsion) who is supposedly supervising her. And Penhale (John Marquez) leaps into mad action at the drop of the word “asbestos”. But the suspect insulation turns out to be something else. Penhale, a laughing stock once more, asks handyman Malcolm sourly: “Why couldn’t you just put asbestos in the houses, eh?”

Al (Joe Absolom) is still in the dumps, rejected by all but Penhale, whose advice on life is not the best to follow. Whereas Ruth (Eileen Atkins) offers tough love, and the occasional odd job. Al has several skills, so why doesn’t he set up a call-out computer service or a general handyman business? Indeed he can spot Morwenna on a date with Mike at 80 metres… good observational ability too.

Felix Scott’s Mike has shown he can communicate well with other adults, and of course with Baby Ellingham – but now he is strangely tongue-tied in Morwenna’s presence. Nor does he appear to understand her risqué joke about catching crabs. Does more lie behind this than his being smitten with Morwenna…? Definitely!

Meanwhile Louisa and Martin’s situation goes from bad to worse as Martin’s mother pops up from Portugal, and the funeral of his father. Quite a lot to stomach in one go, even for Martin. But a delight for the viewer, as the venerable Claire Bloom is Margaret, who tries to resurrect relations with her son Martin after years of frostiness. Louisa’s situation with her mum was similar, I recall. Maybe this explains the mindset of those who choose to live in Cornwall, about as far away as possible from whatever or whoever they wish to avoid.

Christopher Fairbank, 60 this year, will be recognisable to all generations for his roles ranging from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet to the latest instalment of Pirates of the Caribbean. Here he plays the crotchety Malcolm the medical case of the week, who at first Martin rashly writes off as a hypochondriac. Little by little clues emerge – a recurrent cough, feeling under the weather, doing building work… And hurrah! – Dr Martin does listen to the lung bases this week, finding some “crepitations”. Why not simply “crackles”? Because Martin rarely considers the person behind the patient. Later when Malcolm collapses, out of breath, Morwenna charmingly translates Martin’s utterances into lay English. They do make a good team…

This episode, written by Charlie Martin, contains fewer comedic turns when compared with his episode 4 of this series. Many of the heart-to-hearts between characters are relatively straight, and those between Martin and his mother, gloomy and foreboding. Even Baby Ellingham looks unhappier than I’ve seen him before. So thanks to John Marquez, Jessica Ransom, and Selina Cadell for their comic relief.

Some observations:

When Penhale threatens the drunk and disorderly with the clink, does he in fact mean bed and breakfast at his house?!

What is with the chorus girls in the last couple of episodes? Presumably local schoolgirls who spend their afternoons down on the beach, then stroll back through the village looking for action. Last week they taunted Mrs Tishell outside her pharmacy, this week it is Penhale’s turn. Are they inspired by the changing times in Port Isaac, now a centre of pilgrimage for Doc Martin fans?

I am happy for Bert (Ian McNeice): he does have a full head of hair. And yes, all the best for his whirlwind romance with Jenny. She will oust that Mrs Tishell yet.

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