I had a coffee this morning with charming Hungerford actor Nicholas Lumley to find out what his experience was like acting in the popular Doc Martin series with Martin Clunes.
“The casting call was for an eccentric old farmer with an accent based loosely in the West country. At the audition the director told me just to ‘talk pirate’. I was delighted to get the part, as there is always lots of competition.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the sun always shines in Doc Martin. This is deliberate – any grey skies are edited out in post-production. This creates a holiday destination atmosphere on set even when it is wet and windy filming.
Caroline and I had a lovely stay for four days in The Slipway Hotel in Port Isaac opposite the harbour. The hotel is always in the episodes, besides Mrs Tickle chemist shop – which in real life is a sweety gift shop that sells Doc Martin souvenirs. Most of the filming takes place at a farm near the town.
I was asked if I minded having the caravan on the farm as a dressing room. It wasn’t very big but Sigourney Weaver had used it the week before…(she had met Martin on a chat show and asked to be in the series which is very popular in the States). The doctor surgery and most of the interiors have been constructed in a large barn on this farm.
I have long been a fan of Martin Clunes so it was a delight to meet him. He came and introduced himself when I was in make-up having my prosthetic goitre put on (which took an hour). Despite his on-screen grumpy character, Martin is always charming and funny.
The Episode 7 introduces Sigourney Weaver who plays an American tourist and my character Jim Winton and my wife, played by Gemma Jones (who coincidentally played the mother of Bridget Jones in the eponymous diaries). Jim has a fear of hospitals which manifests itself in the next episode when things get rather out of hand…
The later action in Episode 8 (which airs on Mon 2 Nov) takes place on Bodmin Moor (which was cold and chilly, misty and damp on the shooting day but I expect the skies will be blue on the telly thanks to the magic of editing) and becomes an action adventure with helicopters and car chases and a surprising conclusion. We have to sign confidentially agreements so cannot reveal any more however after 12 years, Episode 8 of Series 7 could be the final show ever.
Life on set with Martin Clunes was always a laugh and as my neck goitre ‘grew’ he would squeeze it like an old fashioned car horn and go ‘parp parp’. One of the first things he asked me was if I like dogs as his two terriers roam the farm and he warned me that if they happen to appear on set while the cameras are rolling he simply improvises and incorporates them into the scene. Sure enough this happened when we were filming in his surgery. The dogs came in and he shouted at them to get out.
There is always a naughty twinkle in his eye which makes it hard for the actors working with him to keep a straight face – known in the trade as corpsing (which comes from the habit actors have of trying to make whoever is playing a dead body on stage to laugh)”.
Watch Series 7 Episode 7 of Doc Martin to see Nicholas introduced as the eccentric old farmer Jim Winton (07:05) and Sigourney Weaver as an American tourist. Nicholas’s main appearance is in the dramatic final Episode 8 of the series.
Click here to read about Nicholas’s recent cameo in Downton Abbey
For his full bio click here
Coming next for Nicholas, the medical theme continues with appearance in the daytime BBC1 soap Doctors Monday 30 November when he plays an ex-boxing champion who has had a bad stroke – but he is able to speak and does have a number of lines….