Doc Martin star Dame Eileen Atkins reveals what it’s like filming the popular ITV show and how her character, Aunt Ruth, has become an unexpected role model

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Acting legend and star of Cranford and The Crown, Dame Eileen Atkins reveals how her Doc Martin character, Aunt Ruth, has become an unexpected role model.

Here Eileen Atkins tells TV Times, the fun fan reactions to her stern character, and why she would love to see Aunt Ruth’s traits played up even further, with a bit of extra tartness thrown in…

TV Times: Ruth is this fantastic independent spirited woman and we’re guessing that you’re pretty much like that too?

Eileen Atkins: “It is not a hard part to play. Shall we say that? I love playing her, yes. I wish she was even ruder and tarter!”

Dame Eileen Atkins reveals she’s urning for Aunt Ruth to be even ruder

TVT: There was talk that the last season may have been the last. And now it’s getting recommissioned for two series. That must have been a great joy to you?

EA: “We did all think, because the Head of Drama gave us a wonderful dinner and I think we all thought this is a goodbye-dinner. And then suddenly, to everybody’s amazement, he gave a speech saying he wanted two more.”

TVT: Filming in Cornwall must be amazing as well?

EA: “I have a wonderful time because I’m in Cornwall for four months – and in my case, not even working very hard. The only trouble is that I am one of the coldest people on this earth. In March and April I freeze. And you know we’re not allowed to look as if it is not sunny and lovely and warm and I have had some really rough days this year, and I mean really rough!”

TVT: Do you get fan mail?

EA: “Oh yeah. The day before yesterday, from an eleven-year old boy who said: “Dear Eileen Atkins, I like your ‘charta’.” He meant ‘character’. There is a great need, particularly for young people, for a rather stern, disciplined person in their lives. I can tell that from fan mail. ‘I like the way you told them off and you told them that was not right’. I think young people have a real need for someone a bit stern sometimes.”

TVT: Do you watch a lot of TV?

EA: “I watch a lot of TV when I’m down in Cornwall when I am having my supper. I watch almost anything. I had never watched Springwatch and suddenly I watch Springwatch. Except, I was horrified, because everything ate everything else…”

Dame Eileen Atkins wiht The Crown cast and crew, including Claire Foy, Jared Harris, Victoria Hamilton, Vanessa Kirby, Matt Smith, Suzanne Mackie and Stephen Daldry

TVT: And how about other things like Netflix and Amazon, streaming channels?

EA: “I haven’t, you know and I am in The Crown! I went to the first two in the cinema, the next three, Ian McNeice, who plays Bert in Doc Martin, and who I see in London because he lives very near me – he’s got big screens and everything and he had Netflix. They gave me free Netflix for a year, but I am such a fool, I didn’t know how to use it.”

Doc Martin is on Wednesdays ITV at 9pm

Interview by Emma Bullimore