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Series: Doc Martin

Mrs. Tishell: You are being very mean.
Doc Martin: Quite possibly.

ITV series, 2004-present. The character originally appeared as Doctor Martin Bamford in two BSkyB TV movies, before being significantly retconned and renamed "Ellingham" by Dominic Minghella (spot the anagram).

Dr. Martin Ellingham is a Doctor with two fairly glaring problems. Firstly, he's got the bedside manner of Hannibal Lecter with none of the charm. Secondly, he's managed to acquire a fear of blood. The latter resulted in him leaving his job as a renowned surgeon in London and heading for the Cornish village of Portwenn to become their GP (General Practitioner, i.e. village doctor).

There he deals with the variety of local oddballs, the medical enigmas of the week, his aunt, and his ex-fiancée who he got pregnant.

This comedy drama contains examples of the following:

  • Afraid of Blood: Martin. Sets up the whole series, as his aversion to blood halts his high-flying medical career in its tracks and causes him to become a GP in a small rural village.
    • He sought therapy to correct it in season 4 and seemed to be over it by season 5, however in season six he started to have problems with blood again.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Martin.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: At the end of season 4, Martin finally breaks down and admits how much Louisa really means to him. Because he's such an emotionally repressed, stuffed shirt normally this becomes both a crowning moment of awesome and a crowning moment of funny as he struggles to put aside his Stiff Upper Lip tendencies and speak from his heart.
    • Parodied earlier, with Pauline, who notes that Doc Martin is so terrible at demonstrating emotions that a simple expression of affection comes across like this trope.
    Pauline: Thank God! I thought you were going to say that you were in love with me or something. After all that bumbling . . .
  • Arcadia: The show takes place in an idyllic rural fishing village.
  • Bitter Almonds: Not actually cyanide, but Martin manages to identify the smell of Copper Arsenite, which is giving a patient of the week Arsenic poisoning via a (unintentional) Napoleon's Wallpaper plot.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: Louisa, after a man's carotid artery is cut in the course of her honeymoon from hell.
  • Brain Bleach: Martin invokes this when he walks in on Joan having sex with a man, 50 years her junior, on the kitchen table.
  • Britain Is Only London: Averted. Britain is London AND Cornwall.
  • British Brevity: Currently 38 episodes over 7 years.
  • British Stuffiness: Martin, is almost a caricature of the emotionally repressed Brit. From his stiff as a board posture, to his constant inability to handle emotions (well, postive emotions anyway, he has a better handle on the negative ones).
  • Broken Aesop: In the final episode of season 1, a nine-year old boy who's kind of a loner is told by Louisa that, if you allow people to make fun of you and don't react, then they'll accept you because "they'll see you're okay". Even worse, this Aesop is repeated by the boy to Martin... who in the same episode had been the victim of a practical joke that wasn't strictly a Deadly Prank, but was still pretty cruel and quickly made him a laughing stock by pretty much everybody in the village, to the point where he was being discussed on local radio.
    • Notably this was Lampshaded and Deconstructed in the same episode, as Louisa's advice ends up getting said boy a ruptured spleen for his trouble and rushed into emergency surgery. In the end, she amends her advice to "Some people won't ever fit in, but we should appreciate their uniqueness".
    • There's another one played for laughs in an episode where the school's caretaker is kicked out and is sleeping in the school shed. He's delirious from carbon monoxide from a gas heater in a closed area, and has been putting fertilizer on the floors and floor cleaner on the vegetables. One of the teachers is trying to teach the kids the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, when Martin bursts into the room and shouts "Don't eat those! Destroy them immediately!"
  • Buffy Speak: Martin tells PC Penhale that his brother is displaying some of the symptoms of Huntington's disease. Penhale has a panic attack and Martin shuts him up by agreeing to give him a blood test. Penhale says of his blood that "Oh no! It looks Huntington-y!"
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Doctor Martin Ellingham in is abrasive and arrogant, and generally unsociable. He had also developed a blood phobia, which caused him to have to give up his prestigious surgical practice and become the best damned GP (general practitioner) the village of Portwenn ever had.
    • Also Stewart (the forest ranger).
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Martin.
  • Chekhov's Gun: If someone coughs, scratches an itch, or sneezes in the beginning, they're probably the victim of this week's medical mystery. It happens at least Once an Episode.
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): Morwena manages to revive her grandfather with a good minute and a half worth of this.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Dr Dibbs is stunningly incompetent in treating herself, on a massive amount of self-prescribed medication and having missed an almost fatal diagnosis. She's barely any better with her patients.
    • Given that she spent over 20 years working as a nurse without any problem, it's heavily implied the only reason Dr Dibbs is such a nervous wreck is because her husband pushed her to become a Doctor and she cracked under the pressure.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Penhale, heavier on the moron than the badass admittedly, but he came across as a very professional and scary copper when he dealt with the evil loan sharks threatening Bert. And when his estranged wife shows up apparently unaware that they've been divorced for four years, he's clearly still desperately in love with her, but the first thing he does is ask her the date, confirming that she's not well.
  • Cute Kitten: Even the All Devouring Black Hole Loan Sharks love cute kittens, they keep one in their van.
  • Deadly Prank: Averted (see Broken Aesop above), but as Martin pointed out, it did keep him from attending to patients that actually needed his help
  • Derailing Love Interests: Louisa reunites with her ex-boyfriend, who accepts a job in London after asking her to marry him. So she dumps him because he's disingenuous about living a life together in their beloved village, and not so much because he's an insufferable Jesus freak.
  • Doctor's Orders: Doc Martin is routinely frustrated by patients ignoring his advice and doing what they want. One woman nearly killed herself trying to function with a herniated vertebra.
  • Drama Bomb: When Joan is Killed Off for Real at the start of season 5.
  • Dropped A Bridge On Her: Aunt Joan. Killed off offscreen with a heart attack in her jeep, which was found crashed into a gorse thicket.
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr. Martin Ellingham, a top Harley Street surgeon who, after developing a fear of blood, retrains as a local G.P and moves to Cornwall. He's a brilliant doctor, but he's also a sour, pompous and miserable git almost entirely lacking in charm and bedside manner.
    "It was easy to find you, I just followed the trail of outraged people".
    • There's a minor Running Gag that Martin will accurately treat/diagnose people on the fly, but repeatedly fails to remember what their name was, even when he actually bothered to ask for it!
    • The Dr. Jerk is played straight in the 4th series with the character of Dr. Edith Montgomery, who not only shares Martin's lack of bedside manner but has even less care or empathy for her patients.
  • Emotionally Tongue Tied: Martin.
  • Express Lane Limit: Martin's secretary is late to work on her first day because she stopped by the supermarket to get supplies, and got into an argument about whether she was entitled to use the "six items or less" lane (she had 20 items, but claimed the important thing was she had fewer than six types of item).
  • Everybody Lives: More or less - the Doc has never lost a patient. At least not when anything could possibly be done about it. He walked into a bedroom to find a woman in the midst of a stroke and she died before he'd even finished phoning an ambulance.
  • Fat and Skinny: Bert and Al. Bert being the short Fat Idiot and his son Al is the sensible Straight Man.
  • Follow the Leader: Distant Shores, staring Peter Davison as a fish-out-of-water city doctor on the Northumbrian island Hildasay.
  • Fish out of Water: Not so much these days, since he's been living there a while by now.
  • The Fun in Funeral: Season Five, Ep2, plays this to the hilt with Joan's funeral. The hearse is late, the guests are weirdnote , the pall-bearers drop the coffin, Martin turns Joan's eulogy into a medical case history presentation-cum-public health lecture, the local police constable bemoans dealing with simple heart attacks and not something exciting, someone's mobile phone goes off playing "things can only get better" as a ring-tone. The usual for Portwenn really.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: It's implied that PC Penhale used to be a city cop (and/or a better cop) before being kicked in the head by a horse on a call. It messed him up quite badly, resulting in narcolepsy, agoraphobia, and mood swings that ruined his marriage.
  • Hostage Situation:
    • Martin, Louisa, and Pauline are taken hostage by a criminal who is suffering from untreated bipolar disorder. It ends after about half a dozen others get roped into it, a medical emergency occurs, and Martin completely loses patience with the situation.
    • Again in the final episode of Series 5. Mrs Tishell has a psychotic break and essentially holds James Henry — Martin and Louisa's son — hostage. Martin talks her down.
    • Another episode has a delusional woman take Martin, Penhale, Ruth and her son hostage, believing the latter was poisoning her with weedkiller. Turns out she was being poisoned, but by the old wallpaper in her bedroom coated in arsenic, which her son had begun to strip but never bothered to finish.
  • Imaginary Friend: Anthony, an invisible 6-foot squirrel.
    • In the Spanish version, Migue, an alien from Saturn.
  • Informed Self Diagnosis: The "gets it wrong" variant of this trope is done twice.
    • Dr Dibbs self-diagnosis almost kills her before Martin manages to correct it.
    • Martin's Aunt Ruth diagnoses herself with a terminal illness, listing all the symptoms, but thankfully Martin is on hand to point a couple of symptoms she's missed which means he has to break the bad news that she is going to live as she has something totally different.
  • Instant Birth, Just Add Water with Screaming Birth: Louisa, less than half an hour had passed between waters breaking and delivery.
  • Insufferable Genius: The Doc
  • In Vino Veritas: Double-subverted. Louisa tries this on Martin, but he says that alcohol just makes him sleepy. But then he admits that he loves Louisa. And then he falls asleep.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While the Doc has a habit of being extraordinarily rude to people, it's clear that he does care about their well-being, but is frustrated by the fact that they never follow directions. He also clearly loves his Aunt, Louisa, and even Pauline. This is most obviously expressed in the episode where he and Louisa become engaged, as he tells off Pauline's mum for accusing Pauline of being a criminal when really she just has a gambling addiction, and where he tells Louisa that he can't bear to live without her.
  • Killed Off for Real: Auntie Joan dies of a heart attack offscreen during the hiatus between seasons 4 and 5.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Martin and Louisa.
  • Lack of Empathy: Doc Martin has no bedside manner and is probably a candidate for schizoid personality disorder. He routinely tells people about their illness in the most abrasive way possible.
  • Licked by the Dog: Martin in basically every episode. Some episodes almost use the dog as a link.
  • Likes Older Women: In one episode, a painter has the hots for Auntie Joan. Martin suspects an Oedipus Complex, and it's later revealed that he's grieving for his dead mother...
  • Limited Wardrobe: Martin and his suits would make Barney Stinson proud. He changes into a new suit for his wedding (with the classic "wardrobe full of copies of the same outfit" gag), but nobody can tell the difference.
  • Loan Shark: It turns out that Bert has had to go to some loan sharks to keep his restaurant afloat.
  • The Local: The Crab and Lobster.
  • Location Doubling: The fictional Portwenn is played by Cornish village Port Isaac.
    • This gets a Shout-Out in the Spanish version, "Doctor Mateo". The fictional town in which the Spanish version is played, San Martín del Sella (actually Lastres), is said to be a sister town to Portwenn.
  • Long List:
    • In the first episode Bert mentions that there's a few people Martin needs to see, and then proceeds to list practically everyone in the village.
    • The list of medications Dr Dibbs prescribed for herself is insanely long.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Martin's mother insists on calling Louisa "Louise" despite being corrected multiple times.
  • Misery Builds Character: Martin was brought up by emotionally distant and borderline abusive parents who resented having a child at all.
    Martin: I was locked in the cupboard under the stairs as a child, and it never did me any harm.
  • Moment Killer: Martin manages to muck up the moment with Louisa repeatedly.
  • Mood Whiplash: Done deliberately as part of the format, every episode will contain one dark, serious and weighty storyline, and one light Quirky Town style story. They will then interleave throughout the episode, often with both story lines crossing through the same scene, and leaving the viewer pretty wrung out emotionally by the end.
  • Motor Mouth: Morwena after taking some "energy pills", see Mushroom Samba below.
  • Mushroom Samba: In Series 5, after noticing bouts of hyperactive behaviour, Martin fires his new receptionist for taking drugs. It later finds out that the "energy pills" her grandfather had given her were actually 70-year-old metamphetamines from his WWII ration kit. Both assumed they were safe because it had the Government stamp on, after all... the Government wouldn't give out something that was bad for you.
  • My Beloved Smother: After being left virtually penniless Martin's mother, in series six, moves to Portwenn intent on invoking this trope.
  • Mystery of the Week: Either a single patient with a strange illness or a town epidemic.
  • Not So Stoic: Martin after hearing the news about Joan's death. Despite outwardly remaining his typical aloof self, as he walks around her empty house, his eyes betray how utterly heartbroken he is.
  • Only Sane Man: Martin likes to paint himself as one of these, however Joan and her replacement Ruth have far better claims on this (albeit in different ways).
  • Opposites Attract: Martin and Louisa basically cover every trope in this section at some point.
  • Papa Wolf: Subverted in the fourth episode, when Martin expects a confrontation with a father angry that Martin's seduced the man's daughter (he fixed her dislocated shoulder and she developed a crush, baked him a cake, showed up naked in his bed). A huge Tae Kwan Do instructor walks into Martin's surgery and ... the father turns out to be a Reasonable Authority Figure and apologizes for the inconvenience.
  • Parental Abandonment: The Ellinghams took every opportunity to not have to raise Martin, sending him to boarding school at age six and having him spend summers with Aunt Joan (until his father decided that Joan was too immoral). Louisa's mother walked out on the family when she was ten and she became estranged from her gambling-addict father when she was an adult. Her father eventually becomes a criminal, causing a second estrangement. Her mother returned to become a cast member in season 5.
  • Pastimes Prove Personality: Martin is frequently seen repairing clocks, showing that even his hobby is similar to his job, requiring slow care and attention to detail.
  • Pet the Dog: Martin writes a prescriptionnote  to the town's ranger, a traumatized war veteran. Later, he does the samenote  for a teenage girl who is suffering largely from being a teenager.
  • Police Are Useless: PC Penhale is hopelessly bad at his job. Lampshaded by Ruth;
    Ruth: Is he really a policeman... or just pretending to be one?
  • Put on a Bus: Numerous major and minor characters stop appearing and are never mentioned again, including PC Mylow, Elaine, and Pauline.
  • Retcon: In the first series, Martin says that his haemophobia was caused by high stress as a trauma surgeon in an inner-city hospital, even relating the tale of first getting it after seeing his patient's family before he had to operate. The sixth series' explanation, on the other hand, was that it was caused by Martin's mother being neglectful, dismissing the first's as self-rationalistion.
  • Recycled: The Series: Kind of an odd example. A character, played by Clunes appeared in a film Saving Grace and later two prequel miniseries. In making this series, the character was given a Re Tool with Doctor Jerk added to the character (who was originally just a Fish out of Water), and his last name was changed to Ellingham (an anagram of the last name of the show's writer Dominic Minghella).
  • Running Gag: The dog that follows Martin around.
  • Sanity Slippage: Mrs Tishell. Her crush on Martin went from "she's an odd one", to "what're those pills she's taking?", to Stalker Shrine, and finally a full blown psychotic break, which was a bad interaction between two drugs she was taking.
  • Sassy Secretary: Elaine. Mostly averted with Pauline, though she really "wants" to be one.
  • Scenery Porn: From the opening titles, the DOP takes the opinion that any shot with less than three people in it can be improved with moorland or some good Cornish cliffs.
  • Shout-Out: Stewart James, who has delusions involving a giant squirrel, is named after the actor Jimmy Stewart, who famously played a man who has delusions (or are they?) involving a giant rabbit.
  • Slut Shaming: After the surprise pregnancy, both Ellingham and Louisa get some guff. He for not doing the right thing and marrying her, her for having had sex and being Defiled Forever. Her pregnancy cost her a job in London, and the town pharmacist is snippy about it due to her own crush on Ellingham.
  • Soft Glass: Averted. Never treated as anything but a hazard, particularly when a girl crashes through a glass doorway and ends up unconscious and nearly bleeding to death.
  • Spock Speak: Ellingham, frequently.
  • Stalker Shrine: After developing an obsession on Martin due to a medication issue Mrs Tishell constructs one of these in season 5 finale.
  • Straw Feminist: The midwife who comes into town for one episode during Louisa's pregnancy.
  • Supreme Chef: Martin himself. He might be uptight, a stick-in-the-mud, and unexpressive in every other aspect of his life, but his gastronomic creations show a singular passion and creativity. Notable that even during his relationship with Louisa he still insisted on doing the cooking for both of them.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • PC Penhale for PC Mylow.
    • Originally Pauline for Elaine, though since Pauline has run for three seasons now she has a rather well developed, unique character.
      • Morwena is very much one for Pauline though.
    • Averted with the replacement for Aunt Joan, Martin's Aunt Ruth is a very different person.
    • When the anonymous black sheepdog disappears, Joan gets a dog that takes just as much an unwelcome liking to Martin.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Martin's replacement at the end of season 4 is so stunningly incompetent he feels he has to take over again.
  • The West Country: The show is set in a small fishing village somewhere Cornwall-ish.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Invoked in the show and referenced in the show's title. The villagers endearingly call him "Doc Martin" though he prefers "Doctor Ellingham". Also, his London name was "Mister Ellingham" (British surgeons are doctors, but they traditionally prefer "Mr").
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Blood for Martin.
  • Your Head Asplode: Ellingham diagnoses one patient with Exploding Head Syndrome, the patient assumes it is a literal description fearing this trope.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Ellingham, in spades.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: What is the reaction to a man holding a baby, giving a testicular exam to a policeman, in a public lavatory?
    PC Penhale: Give us a minute Nigel.
    Nigel: All right.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Almost. Ellingham and Louisa had a difficult on-again-off-again relationship, conceived a baby, almost married, and reconciled in the final episode of season 4.
  • Wedding Smashers: Unusually, the wedding itself goes off almost seamlessly (partly due to Martin and Louisa escaping early while they're ahead); the honeymoon, on the other hand, sees their cottage rendered unusable by a blocked chimney and their luggage lost; they get lost attempting to walk home and held at gunpoint by an irascible farmer insisting they fix a chicken coop they broke, and then have to stitch him up after an unlikely accident severs an artery and carry him back to town in a wheelbarrow.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: After Martin resigns to go to London at the end of season 4 he is replaced by the lovely, sweet, and patient Dr Dibbs. She's so bad at the job that it's a relief to get grumpy old Martin back.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Martin and Louisa, and to some extent, Pauline and Al.

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alternative title(s): Doc Martin
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