Doc Martin Returns To ITV Choice This Month

Joe Absolom was in the midst of his own wedding arrangements when he read the scripts for the new series of the hugely popular Doc Martin, which returns to ITV CHOICE this month, and discovered his character proposes to long-term girlfriend Morwenna Newcross.

“Al takes the plunge and proposes to Morwenna in this series, which is brilliant,” he says, “however it is a weak proposal. Chippy Miller, a returning character, overhears Al talking to Morwenna and says ‘what a lovely proposal’. Morwenna thinks it is a proposal, and says yes. It wasn’t something he was thinking about, but he makes up for it by throwing a surprise party at the pub, and proposing to her again.

“It’s sort of a weak moment for Al, and then he goes with it, as he often does, then suddenly he’s engaged to be married. But he never wants to talk about the wedding plans. He is always trying to steer away the conversation. Much like people who are getting married.

“I felt very similar when arranging our wedding. I was not as responsive to some of the questions as I should have been. My fiancé Liz and I decided to get married in Cornwall in real life. I didn’t know when we planned the wedding that Al was going to get married in the script. We got married on June 8 this year, and just like Al I too have avoided many questions about the wedding.”

In real life too Joe found it tricky to find the right moment to propose to girlfriend Liz.

“I had the engagement ring for ages. At one point all her family came to stay with us in Cornwall, and I had a discussion with her dad about asking Liz to marry me and he said ‘yes I think Liz would like that’.

“So I had his blessing. It was New Year’s Eve and I had the ring on me all night and I was waiting for the moment to propose. Then I heard all these cheers. I looked round and saw Liz’s dad on one knee asking his girlfriend to marry him. I thought ‘I can’t steal their moment’ so I kept the ring, and I had it for another year because I couldn’t think of how to propose.

“You hear of people putting so much effort into proposing and I am not particularly good at planning. It was Christmas Day and my girlfriend had got this red hand that you put on the wall for the kids. You put your hand on the red hand, you say your worry, and when the hand goes green you take your hand away, and it takes the worry away. So I thought ‘this is a good moment’.

“I put my hand on the red hand and said ‘I’m worried Liz would say no if I asked her to marry me’. The red hand turned green, I took my hand away, turned to Liz and said ‘will you marry me’. She said yes. It was impromptu. I knew something would come up but it just took a year for that to come up.”

Joe and Liz have been together for 17 years, since meeting at a bar in London, and have three children, Lyla, Caspar and Daisy. When he started filming Doc Martin in 2004 Liz went to Port Isaac to visit him, and loved the place.

“Cornwall is now our home because of this programme. We have lived here for five years. Our youngest child, Daisy is proper Cornish, she was born here. But the older two, Lyla and Caspar have more memories of Cornwall than anywhere else. Lyla, our first child, has had half of her life here. They all go to the surf clubs and have surfing lessons. We think it was a good move here.

“The wedding was at Pencarrow House in Bodmin, a place we filmed at in an earlier series. It is a beautiful location with rhododendrons and wisteria in full bloom.

“We got married under this archway, with the guests on the lawn, and thankfully it didn’t rain. I have never thought about the weather so much in my life. It was a lot to arrange. We had 150 guests.

“It feels like the most grown up thing we have ever done. We have had children, we have moved town, houses, mortgages, all this stuff you do, and you don’t know how you’re doing it, and then you’re getting married and it feels like a big responsibility.”

The actor says that Ian McNeice who plays his father Bert in the series did a reading at the wedding, and Martin Clunes and his wife Philippa were among the guests.

At the start of this ninth series Al is running the Crab and Lobster, with Bert, for Ken, the owner who has gone away to recuperate after being unwell. Ken returns to tell them he’s selling up. Al and Bert persuade Ken to let them continue to run the pub on a lease, but Ken dies before he signs the deal.

“Al and Bert are in limbo. They have put all this effort into the business and suddenly it is going to be sold.

“What they don’t realise is that Caitlin, the woman who has been working in the pub – and also runs the grocery store – who Bert has been very short with because she has a bit of a fancy thing for him – she then becomes the surprise person who buys it. She is the boss. It is quite scary for Al and Bert because they don’t know what she is going to do.

“The first thing she does is to send Al out of the pub to work at her grocery shop, which Al likes. He is quite restless in any one place. Al starts working in the shop and makes his own street food pop up shop out of the left-over food that would usually be thrown away. So he is already thinking of another business and another opportunity to make money.

“I’m not sure it’s a business I could get into because it’s a lifestyle. My view of pubs has always been as a punter. But when we film a lot of stuff behind the counter it is a completely different perspective. I’ve spent years drinking there, and now I’m suddenly behind the bar and there’s bits I’ve never seen. It’s a bit like a newsreader standing up with no trousers on!”

Joe’s eight-year-old son Caspar and elder daughter Lyla both appear in the new series of Doc Martin.

Doc Martin is broadcast on ITV CHOICE (DStv 123) on Mondays, starting September 30, at 20:00


ITV Choice Highlights – 9 To 15 September 2019


Tuesday, 10 September at 20:00

When the banks start issuing paper notes instead of gold, Demelza finds herself thrown into uncharted waters with her workers and the locals, a situation taken advantage of by Tess and Jacka. Morwenna tackles the grief of being parted from her son, while Geoffrey Charles makes plain his intent to marry Cecily, landing both of them in trouble. George conspires once more against Ned and the Poldarks as he and his allies enact a plan to destroy their opposition for good.

Eleanor Tomlinson is Demelza Poldark

The Virtues

Wednesday, 11 September at 21:00

The Virtues is a complex, moving and powerful story of love and redemption shot through with heart and humour. Stephen Graham stars as Joseph, a moral yet troubled man who’s lost everything he ever held dear. Haunted by memories from his past, Joseph travels to Ireland to confront his demons. His path soon crosses with that of Dinah, played by Niamh Algar. She’s fiery and more than able to stand up for herself but, like Joseph, she’s also deeply guarded, holding close a secret she’s hiding from all those around her.

Stephen Graham in The Virtues


Thursday, 12 September at 20:00

Stephen Mulhern will be asking contestants and audiences to ‘say what they see’ as he hosts another series of the much-loved game show. Players compete to guess the familiar phrases hidden in animated clues. And one lucky contestant will go through to the Super Catchphrase for the chance to win 50 000 pounds.


ITV Choice Highlights – 26 August To 1 September

Tuesday, 27 August at 20:00

Geoffrey Charles and Cecily’s relationship continues to blossom but George’s sanity continues to deteriorate and Cary struggles under mounting responsibilities. Bored of being neglected, Valentine decides to break out of Trenwith in search of new friends. Meanwhile, the Enyses look to challenge the county’s high society by hosting a ball to introduce the Despards, before disaster strikes and Ross and Ned must rise into heroic action together.


ITV Choice Highlights – 19 To 25 August 2019

Tuesday, 20 August at 20:00

Demelza and the children join Ross in London, but his dogged pursuit of Ned’s vindication finds them caught in a dangerous web. An ennobled George pursues the fruits of his new alliance, but his lingering grief has unexpected consequences. As Ned confronts the man responsible for his downfall, Demelza fears they are entangled with forces beyond their control, and Dwight’s expertise on insanity unwittingly place him and his friends on shaky ground.

15 Days
Wednesday, 21 August at 19:05

Reversing the traditional investigative narrative, 15 Days is an intensely human drama and original crime thriller that’s not so much a ‘whodunnit’ but more a ‘who’s going to do it?’. In the opening scenes, a young man is shot dead by a member of his close family. Immediately the story roles back to two weeks prior, and we meet four siblings and their families, including the soon-to-be murder victim, as they arrive at an isolated farmhouse. They are there to scatter their mother’s ashes, but this emotional gathering holds a nasty surprise when her will is read. Over the next 15 days, the family is torn apart by frustrated expectations and adulterous passions, as well as a growing unease about what really happened when their father died in a drowning ‘accident’ five years earlier. Dark and devastating secrets return to haunt them all as, one by one, each character becomes a potential suspect, leaving viewers to analyse the clues and reach their own conclusions. Only when this absorbing story reaches what was its beginning do we finally find out the truth…


ITV Choice Highlights – 15 To 21 July


Monday, 15 July at 20:00

Victoria and Albert have never been further apart. Albert unveils his plans for an international exhibition on a scale the world has never seen before. Meanwhile, Palmerston causes uproar when he sends the navy in to blockade Greece after Don Pacifico, a British subject, is attacked. Monmouth engages Penge to provide confirmation of Sophie and Joseph’s affair. Sophie is disheartened to learn of Joseph’s past at Chatsworth. Palmerston and Albert’s popularity plummets, but Palmerston wins back his support in parliament. Victoria determines to win back Albert’s affection even if it means reconciling with Feodora, and resolves to stand by Albert and his vision, even if no one else will.

Line of Duty

Tuesday, 16 June at 20:00

Corbett’s most daring plan yet requires McQueen to exploit links with corrupt police officers. AC-12 make a shocking discovery.