There’s good news and better news for fans of British dramatic comedy Doc Martin. First the good news: The series is finally back for its eighth season with Dr. Martin Ellingham (Martin Clunes) and his wife, Louisa (Caroline Catz) together with their toddler son James Henry. Family life proves to be stressful for the grumpy general practitioner and his ever-patient spouse. Will Martin and Louisa be able to cope with the unpredictability of parenthood?
Surprises abound in eight new episodes of this hugely successful show set in the idyllic, sleepy hamlet of Portwenn in Cornwall. Look for a return guest appearance from Sigourney Weaver, who plays Beth Traywick, an American tourist with an attitude. The three-time Oscar-nominated Weaver scored a cameo on the show through longtime friend Selina Cadell, who plays Mrs. Tishell, the owner of Portwenn Pharmacy.
Caroline Quentin of Dickensian fame rejoins the cast as Angela Sim, the local holistic veterinarian. During the 1990s, Clunes and Quentin played lovers in the lighthearted comedy Men Behaving Badly. Now in Season Eight, there is no love lost between the two characters. Martin took over the medical practice from Sim’s father, who he blames for misdiagnosing the residents of Portwenn for 30 years.
Returning to the series is Dame Eileen Atkins, Doc Martin’s formidable Aunt Ruth, who has gone into business with Bert Large (Ian McNeice) and his son Al Large (Joe Absolom) but is starting to regret it. Bert is trying to strike it rich making home-distilled whiskey, despite a lack of customers. Al is struggling to fill his bed and breakfast, which is on the brink of closing its doors forever. Art Malik guest stars as John Rahmanzai, a visitor to Portwenn who arrives to scatter his father’s ashes and surprises Aunt Ruth with information about her past.
Meanwhile, wedding bells are ringing for Joe Penhale, the vigilant policeman played by John Marquez. Unlucky in love, he pops the question to the Martin’s babysitter, Janice Bone (Robyn Addison). The two finally have a shot at marital bliss, but their nuptials become a comedy of errors. Receptionist Morwenna Newcross (Jessica Ransom) finds her own soulmate and faces scrutiny when her parents come to visit unexpectedly.
Finally, for Portwenn groupies, the better news: The series, which was expected to come to a close at the end of Season Nine, may be extended. Although no definitive decision has been made, Clunes has said he would be open to another season if offered.
“Eight seasons in, viewers’ love of the curmudgeonly doctor shows no signs of fading,” said Ron Bachman, senior director of programming at WGBH. “Perhaps that’s because, in his bluntness, he says the sorts of things we secretly wish we could say!”
Will fatherhood smooth Martin’s rough edges, or will his brusque bedside manner persist? Tune in to Season Eight for a cliffhanger that will keep Doc devotees craving for Season Nine and beyond.
The eighth season of Doc Martin premieres on Wednesday, February 13 at 9 pm on WGBX 44. Watch a preview below: