Doc Martin Season 8 has launched, and while Martin Clunes is the best-known star of the show, playing Dr. Martin Ellingham, his supporting cast, mostly made up of women, adds to the rhythm of the show. Caroline Catz, who plays Doc Martin’s wife, Louisa Glasson, Dame Eileen Atkins as Doc Martin’s aunt Dr. Ruth Ellingham, Jessica Ransom who plays Doc Martin’s faithful work sidekick Morwenna, and lastly, Selina Cadell, as Mrs. Tishell, the kooky pharmacist with a huge crush on Doc Martin. All of these characters support the title character, Dr. Martin Ellingham, but they also have side stories of their own.
Dame Eileen Atkins’ other recent role is in the award-winning series Netflix The Crown as Queen Mary. Though Atkins doesn’t appear in that many scenes, her portrayal of Queen Mary leaps off of the small screen according to Movie Pilot.
“Dame Eileen Atkins has the role of Queen Mary, Elizabeth’s grandmother and the last link to the Victorian era. Mary is smart, strong-willed, distant, but devoted to her duty as a former monarch and advisor to a future one.”
Eileen Atkins who was knighted DBE (Dame of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth for her body of work is now ironically playing Queen Mary, who provides the young queen with the best advice in Netflix The Crown. In the Netflix series, she tells the young Elizabeth that the crown must always come first.
“The crown must win. The crown must always win.”
Atkins plays a similar guiding role in Doc Martin, helping her nephew Martin make his way through life in Portwenn after leaving London.
Caroline Catz, who plays Louisa Glasson, wife of the title character, was actually born Caroline Caplan but had to choose another name when registering as an actress because Caroline Caplan was already taken. Though she has played many other roles, the Manchester-born actress says she sometimes has trouble remembering where she starts and Louisa stops.
“When I’m down here filming, I’m never quite sure where Louisa ends and I begin because there is something about this place – the landscape, the sea, the beautiful vistas as well as the character herself – that gets beneath your skin in a wonderful sort of way.”
Caroline even explains that Louisa’s wardrobe is styled after her own with a few extra floral, feminine accents. She says that her role as Louisa is the best job in the world, and she loves being in Port Isaac (the actual town that Portwenn is modeled after). But Caroline has another life as a wife of actor Michael Higgs and mother of Sonny, 14, and Honour, 9. The family lives in North London when Caroline is not on location in Port Isaac.
The youngest woman in Doc Martin’s life is his receptionist, Morwenna Newcross, played by Jessica Ransom. This season, Ransom is getting more airtime as her personal life with boyfriend Al Large blooms on-screen on Doc Martin. Jessica Ransom is known to American audiences as Morwenna, but she can also be seen on several episodes of Horrible Histories.
But while Morwenna is known for her wild and crazy clothes, Jessica says her own personal style is a bit more chill.
“[Morwenna’s style] it’s bonkers. Even so, I love it. When else would you get the opportunity to dress up and look ridiculous? When I go to the make-up and costume departments I know I’m in for the long haul – although this series we’ve ditched her false eyelashes, otherwise I’d never get on set.”
Jessica Ransom lives in London with her husband and their young son.
Rounding out the cast is Selina Cadell as Mrs. Tishell, the Portwenn pharmacist who still has a huge crush on Doc Martin (even after her crush on Doc Martin went very wrong in an earlier season). For Doc Martin Season 8, Mrs. Tishell can’t decide whether it’s a good or bad thing that her husband Clive is back in Portwenn for good. But viewers might not know that Selina Cadell is the reason that Sigourney Weaver made an appearance on Doc Martin last season, and is planning to make a return visit to Portwenn. Cadell and Weaver have been friends for decades.
“I met her in 1974 when she came over to visit an American friend who was living over here, who I also knew. We all hung out together, and she had such a ball that she stayed for three months. We were young actresses and spent a lot of time laughing and going to the theatre. We’re very close – we’ve spent Christmas together with our families and we work together a lot – we coach each other on our acting projects.”
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It was actually Cadell who worked out the details for Sigourney Weaver to appear on Doc Martin and have a scene with Mrs. Tishell in the pharmacy, as well as Doc Martin in the surgery.
“She knew I was in Doc Martin, but I never asked her to watch it. Suddenly it caught on in America and Sigourney watched it and adored it and when she came over to promote a film in February, by chance she went on The Jonathan Ross Show with Martin Clunes and asked him if she could be in Doc Martin. Then they were both funny about it – neither could believe the other one meant it – and so I brokered the deal.”
Are you watching Doc Martin season 8 on Acorn TV? Who is your favorite Doc Martin sidekick?
[Featured Image by AcornTV]