Doc Martin: ‘Listen with Mother’ – Series 6, Episode 7

Lina Talbot

DOC MARTIN EP7 05 300x200 Doc Martin: Listen with Mother   Series 6, Episode 7Spoiler Alert: this review is for those who have already watched Episode 7 of the current series.

This week the men are in trouble and, in my humble opinion, they largely deserve it. Yes, the script may be pointing the finger for Dr Martin’s difficult behaviour at his treacherous mother, played for boos by Claire Bloom. Which might make her to blame for Louisa’s problems with Martin too.

But we are the authors of our lives, and a clever chap like Martin has no excuse for treading over the feelings of his wife, the local schoolchildren and his weeping patients. Boo! Martin Clunes can give those lost looks all he likes, but his antihero Martin must grow up!

Of course not completely, otherwise where would all Doc Martin fans be? Just enough that Caroline Catz’s Louisa is not continually desperate and verging on hysteria. May I suggest aiming for “intermittently exasperated”? At least she has put herself first for once, which should force Martin to re-evaluate.

Then there is the likeable Mike Pruddy who, it emerges, ran off from his army engineer regiment when he was compelled to undertake therapy for his OCD. This back story of his comes to the fore at last, and presents an intriguing problem. Watching Mike try to balance the needs of his OCD with that of making a quick getaway, I agree he might not be ideal material for army manoeuvres.

Writer Richard Stoneman is responsible for creating this touchy-feely episode, having worked on such ‘men in it together’ sitcoms as Manchild and Sorted. I particularly enjoyed the four men in a room scene where Al, Penhale and Martin try to figure out the best thing for Mike to do before the red caps find him. Felix Scott is endearing as Mike, a man in a true pickle, being helped by friends who are all prone to blunders themselves. It’s tense!

Penhale (John Marquez) puts himself on the line to mislead the red caps, which in Doc Martin can only lead to silliness.  How does he get down from that hook? While best comic lines come from Morwenna (I love Jessica Ransom), telling Al that Mike is on the beach “probably neatly rearranging the rock pools”. And later: “What’s a wol?” (AWOL.)

Martin himself provides the top comic sequence this week, striding across the sports field, obstructing the high jumper’s run up and causing chaos in the three-legged race. He is so obtuse… yet hilarious. Portwenn truly needs him.

For solving medical cases as well. Mrs Tishell (Selina Cadell) provides a good example of how easy it can be to misdiagnose unstable angina (impending heart attack) in women. Take note: women often do not feel pain full throttle in their chest, as men do. Women really are wired differently…  And these days the appropriate investigation is a CT-angiogram of the heart, hi-tech but quicker and safer than the old exercise and cardiac catheter tests. Though Mrs Tishell must suffer from an inherited form of high cholesterol to have fatty lumps on her hands – this is not a fail-safe method of detecting high cholesterol.

But can Martin diagnose himself? He suffers loss of appetite, uses a peak flow monitor, listens to his heart, and tests his urine. This may be normal middle-aged male hypochondriasis – but it also may not.

As I suggested only last week, Al (Joe Absolom) comes up with a business idea, which Morwenna offers to discuss with him in the pub. Viewers know already she would never go on a date with him, sigh. His idea is to arrange trips on working fishing boats for tourists, but Bert and Jenny (Ian McNeice and Annabelle Apsion) sneer at this, not that they are qualified to judge. I imagine Port Isaacs offers something very similar…

But the episode ends bleakly on Martin’s crestfallen face, which resembles his mother’s when Ruth (Eileen Atkins) lectures her for “damaging” Martin as a child. Or Mike’s face, as he realises he must go back to the army. Or Louisa’s as she tells Martin she may stay away longer in Spain. Oh dear, but at least “the little man” James Henry appears chipper this week. I hope the grim goings on do not imprint themselves on his wee brain.

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