IT ISN’T every day that someone local in the community is put under the spotlight to be in a popular television drama, but that is the life of Bude man, Paul Martin, who is Doc Martin’s body double.
Paul Martin, from Martin Group Services in Bude, is in his spare time the body double of Doc Martin, the famously grumpy doctor from the picturesque seaside village of Port Isaac.
Having appeared in various Rosamunde Pilcher films for German television, as well as briefly playing a security guard, alongside Sheila Hancock, in a scene from Delicious, which aired just after Christmas, Paul has been involved in the ever popular Doc Martin TV series since it first aired in 2004, being an extra and supporting artist.
However, in 2013, he was offered the chance to be Doc Martin’s body double for various scenes, and has continued in this role ever since.
Paul told the Post: “I think I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, really. We were filming scenes of Martin and Louisa’s wedding reception, when one of the crew approached me asking whether I would be available to be Mr Clunes’ body double in the back of the wedding car.
“They picked me out as I was of similar build and height, as well as having a hairline and colour very similar to that of the man himself. Obviously I said ‘yes’ and I have been doing it on and off ever since!”
Paul has always been a keen amateur actor, having landed decent roles in various school and youth club productions.
He continued: “I have a lot to thank Cecil Heard for. He was responsible for pushing me into various music and drama festivals, as well as several annual central Methodist pantomimes. I am also very friendly with my godmother’s daughter, who has appeared in several major films and theatre productions. Both of these people have been a major influence in shaping my interest in TV and theatre.
“Looking back, I actually wish I had pursued it as a career, but I guess having a regular income from a full time job and being able to do the odd supporting artist thing part time is safer.”
Although Paul’s face is never seen in the series, he told the Post that his hand has featured many times, having once been made up with a ‘very realistic gash’ across his palm, thanks to the magic of special effects and makeup.
Something else that Paul has enjoyed about his job is the variety of scenes he takes part in. One highlight was when he spent a week being driven around different parts of Bodmin Moor in the back of a Daimler, alongside a body double for Louisa, played by Caroline Catz.
He added: “My favourite double scenes are undoubtedly driving the high spec Lexus around though. I have had to virtually rally it down dirt tracks, drive it briskly along country roads past fixed hedge level cameras and do several ‘fast parking’ scenes — quite nerve wracking at times, but excellent fun too!”
If called in for filming, Paul often has early starts, around 7am or 7.30am. Cast and crew normally have a set routine, arriving at the base, checking in, grabbing breakfast, visiting wardrobe, hair and makeup for the finishing touches before being taken to the location for that day. Paul often has ‘little or no idea’ what the day will involve until he arrives.
He said: “The crew and other cast members are absolutely brilliant and always make me and the other supporting artists very welcome and feel very much part of the production. It can be quite stressful at times on set when there is suddenly a race against time to get the final shots in, but this never spoils the enjoyment or the dynamic. Most days on set will last about 12 hours, give or take an hour or two.”
Martin Clunes, the man himself, has since started to recognise Paul and call him by his first name since spending time on set with him. However, some days Paul doesn’t see him at all, whilst on other days, he spends a lot of time with him, such as when he spent the day with Martin and Caroline Quentin in an old barn in the middle of nowhere.
Martin is apparently ‘very approachable’, and will often be heard adding impromptu lines once ‘cut’ has been called.
Paul added: “It really is like one big family and there is rarely any sign of a ‘them and us’ mentality, which is both refreshing and rewarding. It just makes us want to do better at what we do to help the show.”
Although Paul is ‘sworn to secrecy’ about the show, he explained that filming is already underway for the next series, which is expected to air in September, and he will be filming right through until the end of July. It generally takes around four months to get everything prepared for eight episodes, which last approximately 43 minutes each.
He added: “As far as I can tell, things appear to be going well. It is a very experienced and talented crew, with many having worked on every series so far. It is amazing how many days filming can be done for a scene that lasts just a couple of minutes sometimes. I have just done four days filming this past week, and am looking forward to doing several more days before the end of July.
“I have seen very little in terms of exactly what will happen throughout the series, but all I will say is that we have just been filming a wedding and, in true Doc Martin style, it will not be without the odd hiccup and medical emergency!
“Sadly, we are sworn to secrecy over exact details and cannot use media of any sort to show photographs until the series has aired. So you will all have to wait, just like me, to see exactly how it all pans out on screen.”