It was never going to be a straightforward affair, but the marriage of Portwenn’s finest GP and teacher proved to be more than a little quirky, writes Paul Naylor.
There can’t be many bridegrooms who head for church for their wedding straight after conducting a gynaecological examination, but then I guess regular viewers have come to expect the unexpected of this ITV drama series.
Yes, the big day had come round – again – for Doctor Martin Ellingham and his bride-to-be Louisa.
Lazier writers could easily have devoted this first in a new run to an hour of ‘will they, won’t they’ wed.
Instead, following a typically stilted performance during the ceremony from Martin Clunes as the oh-so-awkward doc, the show cleverly transformed itself from something akin to Four Weddings and a Funeral to a proper good bloodbath via various genres en route.
Wonderfully wobbly-necked Bert Large, played by Ian McNeice, is catalyst to all manner of calamity in the opening episode.
Bert is perhaps the show’s greatest asset, with his wooly hat making him look like a character from 1970s children’s favourite The Flumps.
His plan to whisk away the happy couple to a remote lodge goes to plan – except for driving away with doc and Louisa’s belongings, languishing in a suitcase still in the boot of his vintage car.
So, left to their own devices in the isolated setting, the doc and Louisa – or should that be Frank and Betty Spencer?– crack open a bottle of champagne and settle in for the evening with a romantic open fire.
Yes, it all starts to go a bit ‘Some Mothers do ‘ave ‘em’ when the dreamy setting becomes a little less enticing as the room fills with smoke and the fire belches a soot cloud at the happy couple.
What would Frank and Betty do in this situation? Of course. Head out on foot for help in full wedding regalia.
Following a confrontation with a horse – and a comedic struggle across a shallow stream – the story gets darker.
A lot darker.
Searching for help in a misty, murky woodland, the newlyweds come across a ramshackle abode, adorned in warning messages to stay away.
What happens in the next 10 minutes wouldn’t look out of place in a modern-day horror. All very ‘The Hills Have Eyes’.
Held at gunpoint by a crotchety loner, the bedraggled honeymooners are made to rebuild a chicken coop before resourceful Louisa obtains his shotgun – dislocating the man’s shoulder in the process.
Naturally, the doc can sort this out and does so with little problem – that is until he stumbles and pulls half of the man’s shack down on-top of him.
Now, apart from stunning good looks, another thing the doc and I have in common is a dislike of blood.
When the gunman’s shack is removed from him, exposing a spurting arterial wound to his neck, I must admit I felt more than a little queasy – especially as the blood pumped and sprayed all over Louisa’s white wedding gown.
All deliciously horror-spoof-like.
I wish I didn’t have such an aversion to the red stuff. It’ like I said to a colleague earlier today, it’s a shame I can’t give blood because I really do love biscuits.
Wound dealt with, the action switches to an early morning misty carriageway, with the bizarre vision of Doc Martin covered in mud and all manner of animal droppings, pushing the injured curmudgeon in a rusty wheelbarrow with Mrs Ellingham in a blood-stained wedding gown at his side.
From start to finish this was a treat. We’d had Four Weddings and a Funeral, Some Mothers do ‘ave ‘em and The Hills Have Eyes, all neatly wrapped up with Beauty and the Beast.
Congratulations Martin and Louisa. A most memorable occasion.