Movies

Martin Clunes – Entertainer Extraordinaire

As a keen fan of Mr. Martin Clunes, frequent effort is made to acquire as much of his published work as possible. For someone living on another continent with different media requirements, current plans include purchasing an inexpensive region free portable DVD player so that all of his DVDs published in the UK will work anywhere I go.

What’s so great about Martin Clunes you may ask? Assuming you are not familiar with his work, here are some very basic details about him.

First of all, he is a British comedy actor and entertainer many people around the world really enjoy watching, especially women; although there may be many men who are fans too. The characters he portrays tend to resonate with a part of us that is sympathetic toward men who are somewhat socially inept but have other redeeming qualities. For example Martin is ruggedly handsome in a Nordic sort of way; quite tall, muscular, and he has a marvelous voice both rich and deep. So he is physically appealing to a wide demographic range in gender and age which is quite redeeming enough and works well in the scripts.

There is a sad little boy living inside Doc Martin who doesn’t know how to give or receive love; that is what has been revealed in the plot and Martin Clunes’ acting as the lead character, Dr. Martin Ellingham. There is a neediness in his portrayal of Doc Martin that is as endearing as it is troublesome. It is why Louisa Glasson’s character is attracted to him yet repelled. Louisa is in the daily company of little boys in her job as a teacher. She doesn’t want an adult relationship with the little boy, but she is physically attracted to Martin. That is one tiny fragment of the many well written conflicts within the story line.

It was the loner and rather moody Doc Martin that was my first introduction to Martin Clunes. ‘Doc Martin’ is a British TV series focused on the lives of a few interesting “local” characters living in the fictional village of Portwenn, and filmed in the real village of Port Isaac in Cornwall, UK. Doc Martin wants to be respected as a general practitioner but he is oblivious to the normal every day social interactions that other people expect, and is used to a higher level of existence in busy London.

The Doc Martin character is a laconic loner who seems willing to keep any unfulfilled needs in a tidy box on a well dusted shelf. But in daily life with the people of Portwenn tranquility is illusive. It is a fun show to watch and hear the language, see the beauty of the surroundings, and enjoy the various plot twists and turns.

After enjoying the ‘Doc Martin’ series my natural curiosity led me to seek more information about Martin Clunes. It was fascinating to discover his work history on various British TV series since his first guest-star role as Lon in a ‘Doctor Who’ four part episode called ‘Snakedance’ back in 1983. You can find it online.

Mr. Clunes has worked in several hit British TV comedy series including his most famous role in the UK on the original version of ‘Men Behaving Badly’ where he played Gary Strang. The show ran from 1992 to 1999 and made Martin Clunes a household name in Great Britain. Gary Strang is the typical non-committal, irresponsible 30’s something guy who isn’t particularly interested in relationships as much as experimenting with biology, chemistry, beer and B.S.

Currently Martin is starring as Reggie Perrin in a remake of the 1970’s British TV situation comedy series, ‘The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin’. The first season has been released on DVD in the UK and the second season is being recorded in 2010. But never fear Doc Martin fans – a fifth series of ‘Doc Martin’ is scheduled for filming in 2011.

In addition to his two current hit British TV comedy series, Martin Clunes has presented some wonderful documentary programs that have tremendous mass appeal. ‘Martin Clunes: Islands of Britain’ is a three part series where Martin travels to several memorable islands in various parts of the United Kingdom. Each episode is under one hour yet captures the rhythm of life in three geographical areas of the British Isles. In part one Martin visits islands furthest north in Britain then travels west in part two, and concludes with islands of the south in part three.

‘Martin Clunes: A Man and His Dogs’ is a two part documentary that studies man’s relationship with dogs. Martin travels the globe to find the origins of today’s many breeds of dogs and learns a lot about his own dogs at the same time.

Known for his love of animals, Martin has completed a third documentary about man’s relationship with horses. In ‘Horsepower’, Martin travels the world to explore man’s history with horses. Horseback riding is a participatory sport for the entire Clunes family and an area of growing interest for Martin as the new president of Longines Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead.

Martin Clunes is also a movie star! You may remember him as Richard Burbage in the 1998 Academy Award Winning ‘Shakespeare in Love’; or perhaps you saw his portrayal of Dr. Martin Bamford in the 2000 comedy movie ‘Saving Grace’. He has starred in many made for TV movies such as the 1994 ‘Staggered’ and 1999 ‘Hunting Venus’ both of which he also directed. Incidentally, Hunting Venus was the first production of Buffalo Productions, Ltd. which has gone on to produce the Doc Martin series. Buffalo Productions, Ltd. is owned by Martin and his wife.

Other made for television movies (most available on DVD) starring Martin Clunes include ‘Neville’s Island’ and ‘Acid House’ filmed in 1998, ‘Sex ‘n’ Death’ filmed in 1999, ‘Lorna Doone’ and ‘Dirty Tricks’ released in 2000, ‘Global Heresy’, ‘A is for Acid’, and ‘Goodbye, Mr. Chips’ were on in 2002, ‘The Booze Cruise’ and two ‘Doc Martin’ movies featuring Dr. Martin Bamford were in 2003, ‘Beauty’ in 2004, ‘Losing It’ in 2006 and ‘The Man Who Lost His Head’ in 2007.

On top of all the other accomplishments, Martin is a published author. In June 2009 he published ‘A Dog’s Life’ about his passion for dogs and his global journey to learn about the ancestors of today’s dogs. He also writes about working out problems with his own three dogs, Mary, Arthur, and Tina. One review said, “Known best as an actor, he’s also an excellent raconteur and at times the book is laugh-out-loud funny.”

“With his trademark warmth and humor, Martin describes meeting a worldwide cast of doggie characters, and how humans have shaped the dog world as we know it today. One thing is certain-he will never see Mary, Tina, and Arthur in quite the same way again.” Says another blurb about ‘A Dog’s Life’.

Yes, it’s that “trademark warmth and humor” that has made Martin Clunes the unforgettable, powerful and often moving performer he is today. He has moved many of us in some way whether through his acting, his documentary presentations, television appearances, or his charity work with The Born Free Foundation, Weldmar Hospicecare Trust, and his own Buckham Fair.

We may never meet the man in person but it feels like there is a lot of his own personal Martin comedy style in everything he does. There is a warm and gentle character he carries with him that is conspicuous in his genuine smiles and laughter. There are moments on film when he is himself that make him seem like a regular guy and even approachable. He comes across as a rather private happily married family man and that is more attractive than anything else about him.

It seems worth noting that Martin Clunes’ growing body of work is not who he is but rather the result of his impressive work ethic, talent, planning, and passionate creative abilities combined with the empowering partnership of his wife. We only see glimpses of the real Martin Clunes in his work. Martin and his family are working behind the scenes to build a wonderful life by combining their talents, skills, and interests. We benefit from the results achieved by Buffalo Productions, Ltd and Philippa Braithwaite in partnership with Martin Clunes. Congratulations to them for many fine achievements on and off camera.

Not just another pretty face, Martin Clunes is an example of what a man can become and accomplish in the course of time in a life well lived, with a wife well loved. He is still a young man with many questions left to answer, and many roles to play. And that is at least the start of what’s so great about Martin Clunes.

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