By: Judy Shields
Several Questions from Kim Kennedy (The Hollywood Times)
Hollywood, California (The Hollywood Times) 1/12/2019 – “I think you should tell your readers that they have to tune in because the storyline for Bert is very strong and you are going to have some ups and downs along the way with that, quite frankly.” Actor Ian McNeice told this reporter during a recent telephone call.
Catch a new season of “Doc Martin” on KCET starting tomorrow, January 24 at 8:00 p.m.
You can start watching this show on many platforms, like KCET, Acorn.tv, PBS Video App, Hulu, Amazon and ITV. The show is truly an amazing show with wonderful and loving characters and some spectacular location scenes. The show offers romance, the way it should be done and friendships and how everyone should always look out for one another. You will fall in love with Doc Martin and you will bindge watch the first 7 series, Guaranteed!
Ian McNeice is fast becoming a rival to Martin Clunes for the affections of the legion of “Doc Martin” fans with a rapidly growing fan club of his own.
The Hollywood Times had the opportunity to speak with Ian McNeice about his role as Bert Large on Doc Martin.
Our phone conversation started out with laughter as I asked Ian McNeice how it was going and he said “quite well here in quite sunny Los Angeles, a little chilly, but sunny.”
THT: Where are you currently?
Ian: “I’ve got a lovely view of downtown Los Angeles through the smog, we can just see it barely in the background (more laughter!). The London Hotel in West Hollywood and it’s very swish, I have to say.”
Ian said he was in town for a special premiere of Doc Martin that night for all the donors of KCET and the next day he would be part of a pledging for the station. He would be flying back in a couple days after a short and quick trip to the states.
THT: What about Doc Martin will appeal to an American audience?
Ian: Why it appeals to an American audience is two or three folds. One, I think that locale which it is set in, the village itself and surrounding areas are like another character in the show. They are very foremost, I think in everybody’s interest and the way they turn into see it. They love that location where it is set and I think that is why we are inundated with Americans while we do the show. We had at least 200 to 300 people on a daily basis coming to look around Port Isaac when we are filming in the village. They are all there just standing watching and can’t quite believe we are there. But they come and see where it is made. I think that is one of the reasons.”
“The other reason, of course, I think the performances are very strong. Martin Clunes, in particular, gives a terrific performance of that grumpy doctor. The ensemble group that he has with him are all very fine actors, who pull together very well. There is a real family atmosphere about it, because when we return, it’s with the same group of people, the actors and crew, like a big family.”
“Finally, because of the scripts work so well, because every two years we do the show so that the year inbetween where we don’t do it, that year is given for two reasons, to get the script into a good niche and that Martin Clunes can go off and do his documentaries on horses or animals or the another one he does with the islands around America, around England or Australia, which is a lovely little gig to be on that one.” “I would like to do that one quite frankly, sounds like a great gig! I think that is the reason why Americans are in love with the show.”
THT: I was wondering how Bert was doing with his whiskey business?
Ian: “You will have to tune in this series, I’m afraid that is my answer!”
THT: How long does it take to film the entire season?
Ian: “The entire series last four months. We go down at the end of March, so the whole of April, whole of May, whole of June, whole of July, four months and two weeks per episode, that is what it takes.”
[The next couple of questions where given to this reporter from one of our other reporters who just happens to be from England, Kim)
THT: The Show seems to zero in on a very specific small town subculture in British life, what is the appeal to the British audience?
Ian: “I think the appeal to the British audience is exactly the same as that of the American audience.” The Village and the location is a very strong point as well at the performances.”
THT: Do you think British culture as portrayed in Doc Martin still exist in Britain, or is it pure nostalgia?
Ian: (he laughed out loud on that one) “You got a very good one there! What can I say. You know what, that is a very potent question. I think there is a huge dollop of nostalgia. Yes, it’s whimsical!”
THT: Are there any sort of inside jokes that an American audience would not understand or find funny on the same level as a British audience?
Ian: “You know what, I don’t think so. We have been extremely careful to actually include, because it’s international and the show goes everywhere, for start and a very important point, is that a lot of people ask about the accents, right and a lot of locals say that’s rubbish, they don’t sound like Cornish people at all. If we sounded like Cornish people, you would need subtitles, you wouldn’t be able to understand anything we have said. We have to tone down the accents to make it a little believable and have accents that more people could listen to in the states and other places.”
(Thanks Kim for the great questions!)
THT: Can you bring us up to date on the future of Doc Martin series.
Ian: “About two or three years ago, we had an invitation from ITV to go to a dinner that they had in London and they invited everybody, not just the actors, every head of all departments, like wardrobe, sound and camera department. We all sat around that table thinking well this is it, we have been invited to this whether swanky dinner to be told it’s all over, that this is the end of Doc Martin. The head of ITV drama stood up and said you know what, we love the show so much and we have such faith in it, we would like to commission two new series and everybody took a gasp and went WOW. What normally happens, we get to the end of one series, not knowing whether we would be doing anymore and they would look at the viewing figures and then they would make up their mind if they had good viewing numbers and do it again. This time, we were offered two new series. That was work for the next four years basically and then we suddenly thought, you know what, maybe that’s it, maybe that is going to be the end of it and that is what they are doing here.”
“I think it’s been a big thought, that they would probably have series nine finally be the final series. I think it has been said in the press and I’m not sure if Martin has said that too. I know everyone wants to leave on a high, as opposed to dragging it down into the ground and so maybe that is the other reason they want to end on a high.”
“All in all, this might be the final series.”
THT: That would sad!
Ian: “Listen, believe me, I wanted to go until I can drop! This is my pension we are talking about now. Keep it going, keep this thing going, keep it going.”
“There is a fan club I have on Facebook called The Bert Large Lover’s Group. 170 or so woman who are of a certain age and they are all in love with Bert Large. I know for one that we end it with season nine, there would be a big choir that you could probably hear over the Atlantic if we end it.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/308961729445082/
THT: What is the collecting money for the lifeboats all about?
Ian: “Oh yes, I’ve done this thing for the last few years. Whenever I am in the village I am constantly asked to have a photograph or selfie taken with one of the folks coming into the village. So I suddenly thought, you know what, why don’t I just carry a little bucket with me now, a little sand bucket that I carry with me and I say to put a pound in there for the lifeboats will you. So every time have a photograph taken with someone or a selfie, I collect a pound and you know what, by the end of the season I have counted over 4-5,000 pounds worth of photographs and given some of the money to the lifeboats and some to cancer relieve and some to Port Isaac. I’ve collected for charities while we are there. Everybody likes doing it and they will put a pound in the bucket easily and some people even put five or ten pounds in the bucket, that is what that is about.”
THT: Good for you!
Ian: “Thank you, thank you.”
THT: How about you doing another Ace Ventura?
Ian: (Laughing) “Oh wow. You know, even yesterday, when I got off the plane and I was coming out of the airport, this young kid said ‘hey, you that guy from Ace Ventura, When Nature Calls’? I go, how old are you? and he said something like 18 or 19 and I said you weren’t even born when I made that film in 1985 and he said ‘yeah sure’. It’s amazing how it is still reaching all these young kids. And they are still watching this extraordinary movie. When I did it, I had done four years being Wolesley at Shakespeare Company and I had done a good television and a lot of this and that, it’s the one thing that my kids were so proud of me. ‘Dad you are going to work with Jim Carey’ they actually knew who he was. When they came over to Texas, although it was Africa, we shot it a ranch in Texas, the 777 Ranch, where they had all these African animals down there. I took them to meet Jim Carey and I had four of them all lined up and he said ‘what is this, the von Trapp Children out here, The Sound of Music has come to Texas to see me here.’ The von Trapp which was sweet.” “It was hilarious I have to say.”
THT: How was it like to play Churchill?
Ian: “You know what, I am so thrilled that I got that gig, because I was doing a play at the National Theatre, doing a play with Jeremy Irons, he was playing Howard MacMillian and I was playing Winston Churchill in the play at the National Theatre. The casting people from Doctor Who, came to see because they were looking for someone to play Churchill. They casted me from that, which was nice.”
“This is what I mean about this gig that I do, it is fantastic, because I can be a plumber one week playing Bert and then I war-winning Prime Minister of England, Churchill, so it was great. It has given me a life aboard and I have been to so many conventions all over the world now, Australia, New Zealand, Some in Europe and a lot in America, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles with all these Doctor Who conventions, which you do Q&A’s and signing autographs. It’s cool to see everyone in costume.”
“How about a Doctor Who cruise out in the Caribbean with like 90 Doctor Who fans, so dress in characters and a few of us having dinner and chat with them for a couple of days and everything paid for, fantastic and amazing.”
THT: Was Sigourney Weaver on an episode of Doc Martin?
Ian: “She was. In fact, how she came to be on it originally, she was in drama school with Selina Cadell, who plays Mrs. Tishell. They remained friends ever since and that is how she got on the show. There was a chat show in London that is called The Jonathan Ross Show, a chat show, which Martin Clunes was on when Sigourney Weaver was on and Sigourney said to Martin that she loved the show and would love to be on it. He thought she was joking and it wasn’t until he found out that she had a link to Selina and she really meant it. She came to do the show and then came back and gave her a much longer scene so she could work with Selina.”
THT: How is it working with Martin Clunes?
Ian: “I have so much admiration for Marty Clunes, because he handles it so well, because he a really tough job, for start he is on it every day, I’m lucky if I do two or three days a week. His dialog has to contain some of these difficult medical terms, which he just completely runs through very easily and not only that, he has to complete these procedures where he is putting a tourniquet on or doing something with needles and it does it so well, like opening up his box of tricks. He is the nicest person in the world, plus the fact that he makes everybody laugh on a daily basis. The job from Heaven.”
“I meet so many people who say ‘oh put in a word for us, we would love to be a guess on the show, could you get us on?’ Lots of people want to come and be on the show.”
THT: Do you have any big surprises this season coming up?
Ian: “I can’t tell you that, I’m afraid I would have to ?? you!” You have to watch it and I’m sworn to secrecy.”
The home he rented in Port Isaac during filming is adorned with portraits of his character, Bert Large, sketched or painted by his adoring fans, alongside memorabilia and gifts.
Martin Clunes returns as Doc Martin, (Photo Courtesy of KCET)
Three years since the last season aired, KCET’s highest-rated series returns for an eighth season as the Doc and his wife Louisa are back together confronting life in Portwenn with their infant son, James Henry. The new season of “Doc Martin” begins Thursday, Jan. 24 at 8:00 p.m.
DOC MARTIN, one of British TV streaming service Acorn TV’s and ITV’s most popular series, stars BAFTA Award® winner Martin Clunes (Arthur & George, Men Behaving Badly) as Martin Ellingham, the small-town doctor whose truculence and tactless manner cause mayhem in a quirky seaside town in Cornwall.
Since the beginning, the beloved comedy/drama series has delighted fans with the trials and tribulations of the brash Ellingham, once a celebrated London surgeon who winds up in the sleepy village of Portwenn, replacing their deceased local doctor. But the new physician’s abrasive personality doesn’t exactly mesh with the pace of life in Cornwall. Three years since airing the last season, KCET’s highest-rated series returns for an eighth season as the good Doctor and his wife Louisa (Caroline Catz) are back together confronting life in Portwenn with their infant son, James Henry. The series also stars Ian McNeice as Portwenn’s affable Bert Large and Dame Eileen Atkins (Upstairs, Downstairs) as the Doc’s formidable Aunt Ruth. There’s sure to be plenty of mystery, scheming and romance amongst the rest of Portwenn as well. DOC MARTIN is syndicated to KCET by American Public Television and Acorn TV. For more information, please visit www.kcet.org/docmartin
Establishing a powerful PBS flagship organization on the West Coast, the historic union of KCET and PBS SoCal in October created the opportunity to offer viewers more of the programming they enjoy on multiple channels and platforms including the free PBS Video App and at pbssocal.org.
Join the conversation on social media using #KCET #PBSSoCal #DocMartin.
About Ian McNeice
(Born 2 October 1950) is an English actor and voice actor. He found fame portraying government agent Harcourt in the 1985 television series Edge of Darkness, and went on to feature in popular films such as The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and Frank Herbert’s Dune.
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