Doc Martin star Martin Clunes will play Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in new ITV drama Arthur & George (ITV, Monday), based on the real-life story of how the Scottish novelist tried his hand at detective work after being asked to help clear the name of a man wrongly sent to prison.
We caught up with Martin to talk about the new three-part drama, what we can expect in the new series of Doc Martin and how he managed to get his pet dog a role in this new three-part drama!
Your dog Jim was wonderful in this, wasn’t he?
“Yes he did really well. I practised my Scottish accent at home with him so he would know what to expect and he was very well behaved. He knows he would have been in trouble if he hadn’t been!”
Did you feel a bit of trepidation playing a real-life character?
“Yes a bit, because it was such a departure from the stuff I normally do and also because he was a real person who actually existed. But the book is full of detail so I had all the research notes I would ever need!”
Your wife, Phillipa, is the show’s producer. Did she persuade you to take the role?
“She swears there was no pressure, but there was pressure!
I’m sure if someone else had asked me to do it, I would have said ‘I’m a bit scared!’
My comfort zone has been Doc Martin or animal documentaries and that’s been my life for so long, with little bits of acting thrown in!”
You say you’re stepping out of your comfort zone here. Have you ever turned down work and then regretted it?
“No I’ve never regretted the many jobs I’ve bailed out on. Daniel Craig has my blessing!”
We spoke to Neil Morrisey recently and asked him about the possibility of doing more Men Behaving Badly and he said you’re too busy…
“Did he? He’s found a new answer to that question! (Laughs) The real reason is actually his schedule – he’s too busy!”
Is it something you’d want to go back and do again?
“We did the sketch last year for a charity show and it was really funny sitting on a sofa with a can of Stella next to Neil again. It was like no time had passed at all. But Men Behaving Badly was about the four of us really and unless you could get the four together… But also men in their 50s being like that, post-Yewtree? It’s a little bit unsavoury, isn’t it?”
So probably a no then?
“It’s probably been a no for years, but you guys keep asking! Haha.. But the real reason is Neil Morrisey’s availability!”
Holby City and Hollywood star Art Malik has a role in this series and he mentioned he’d love a part in Doc Martin…
“Love? He’s was lobbying me on set! Have you heard his Cornish accent? His last suggestion was that he could play my older brother! We’d love to have him on the show, he’s great. We were so thrilled when he agreed to do this. The first day he was on set it was so exciting, because it’s like royalty isn’t it! There’s something about him, he’s just noble. He’s a really sweet man and he lives in Devon now, which is why he wants a part in Doc Martin!”
Can you give us any hints on what will be happening in the new series of Doc Martin?
“Marriage guidance are the only words I can say!”
The show has really taken off in America and some of the fans are even calling themselves ‘Clunatics’!
“Yes they’re fantastic. We have a fair on our farm every year and sometimes they come to that. I think there’s a whole plane load coming down this year which is
really nice. In America we’re on PBS – which isn’t a mainstream channel – so they have to seek us out as it were. They feel very strongly about it and they have discussion groups and meet up and everything.”
Arthur & George is going out in the Broadchurch slot – will that put extra pressure on the show?
“No, I think that’s great. There’s nothing wrong with inheriting a good slot – that’s how Men Behaving Badly did so well, by taking over from Absolutely Fabulous! (laughs)”