‘Doc Martin’: How Would the Cantankerous Small-Town Doctor Handle the Current Pandemic?

One has to wonder, during these shelter in place and mask-wearing days, how the fictional Dr. Martin Ellingham in the fictional fishing village of Portwenn, would handle the very real crisis that has befallen every corner of the globe.

Martin Clunes and Caroline Catz filming 'Doc Martin'
Martin Clunes and Caroline Catz filming ‘Doc Martin’ | MelMedia/GC Images

Would he require shelter in place orders as well? Or would Luisa beg him to run off to Scotland or some other place to escape with their baby James?

‘Doc Martin’ creator Dominic Minghella contracted coronavirus (COVID-19)

The creator of the popular British dramedy, Dominic Minghella, recently opened up about his bout with the novel coronavirus. From his account, as with so many speaking out after suffering from the illness, it’s nothing to joke about or take lightly.

Martin Clunes
Martin Clunes | David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for BGC

“I’m doing pretty well,” he told ITV News in Apr. 2020. “I’m glad to be alive. I’m a little bit breathy, but well on the mend and I feel really, really lucky to be at home. It’s an extraordinary feeling being presumably clean and immune.”

He recounted that, when he first suspected he was sick, his symptoms were barely noticeable, and he endured them for nine days, but this changed quickly. Minghella was in the hospital for two days and thought he wouldn’t survive, writing his children goodbye letters while he was there.

“Early on, my symptoms were really mild,” he recalled. “I wasn’t even sure I had the virus at all. My kids were still at school at that point. . . It wasn’t until the end of the first week — day seven, eight, nine — that I knew I had a problem.”

How the real fishing village is managing through the global health crisis

The villagers on Doc Martin live in the fictional town of Portwenn and the show is filmed in the real Cornwall village of Port Isaac, which right now, as with all tourist attractions and cities, is discouraging any visits from outsiders with the Twitter campaign #comebacklater.

“Many businesses are at their lowest cash point – they’ve gone through their winter eking out the cash,” Cornwall chief executive Malcolm Bell explained to Sky News in Apr. 2020.

“It’s actually worse than that – many businesses are close to their overdraft limit and of course now, not only is no money coming in, you’ve got customers wanting their money back. Many businesses invested heavily during the winter.”

According to Sky News, the Easter holiday alone would have brought Cornwall almost 200,000 visitors in the area.

How would Portwenn handle coronavirus?

To find out how the village of Portwenn might manage a pandemic of these proportions, we went no further than to the show cast itself. The Doc Martin talent put together a public service announcement reminding their fellow Brits to make sure to practice social distancing of “two metres from everyone” in order to flatten the curve.

In the just-humorous-enough clip, the actors convey the seriousness of the message without compromising the show’s quirky personality.

The cast of ‘Doc Martin’ – Social Distancing PSA

The video features PC Joe Penhale, the town’s nervous but eager cop on the beat calling everyone in Portwenn as he looks for Doc Martin. He first calls the doc’s receptionist, Morwenna, who reminds Joe everyone is in isolation.

He tries one villager after another, until he finally reaches the doctor, to let him know that “the village is safe. It’s in total meltdown, I mean, lockdown!”

Doc Martin, being the grumpy and socially awkward person he is, wants to rush PC Penhale off the phone but, the officer won’t have it until the doctor hears him out.

Martin Clunes as Dr. Martin Ellingham in 'Doc Martin'
Martin Clunes as Dr. Martin Ellingham in ‘Doc Martin’ | MelMedia/GC Images

“I just wanted to say,” Penhale stammers out in the video, “Doc, that I think you’re doing a really good job. And I just wanted to say to all you doctors and nurses and key workers all over the world, you’re doing such an amazing job, and we’re just really, really grateful.”

Martin Clunes as Doc Martin is speechless at Penhale’s sentiment. While he normally ignores or shoos the copper away, he says in all seriousness, “For once, I agree with you.”

Read more: ‘Doc Martin’: What is Star Martin Clunes’ Net Worth and Is the Dramedy Series Done?