For Martin Clunes, Christmas is very much down on the farm – specifically the farm he and his wife Philippa work and live on in the hills outside Beaminster in Dorset. There, the 61-year-old Doc Martin star will entertain 15 guests, plus horses, dogs, cattle and hens. But no sheep.


What can we expect from the special Christmas episode of Doc Martin?

Martin: The end of the last series was massive – so dramatic, so emotional – and then it was fine. So the Christmas episode is really lovely, really cosy, perfect for Christmas Day. That’s if we don’t get bumped for something else…

What will your Christmas Day look like?

A party. Everybody comes to us for Christmas and we have a big party. We’ll have the whole extended family in the house, about 15 people. It’s fantastic, we’ve always taken it seriously.

You don’t share Dr Martin Ellingham’s less enthusiastic view of having fun with people?

I don’t. We’re a big family and we do a lot together. I have some amazing nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters-in-law. We go on holidays together, and I find that lovely. I love being with them.

Doc Martin Christmas special 2022
Martin Clunes as Doc Martin and Caroline Catz as Louisa in the Doc Martin Christmas special ITV

Even when they’ve had slightly too much to drink and they’re in your house?

Even better! My wife Philippa’s brother Christopher is a fantastic quizmaster and we generally have a bit of a quiz and get hysterical over very little. It’s good fun. There are loads of dogs as well – everyone’s got a dog.

Dogs plus horses. That’s an awful lot of barking and neighing…

Yes, and we always give everyone [on the farm] Christmas off, so it’s hard work as well. It’s knackering, especially when we had sheep. Bloody hell, lambing.

Festive lambing isn’t much fun, then?

Lambing is a pain in the arse. I’ve sold the flock. We did it for about five or six years, but it just wasn’t washing its face. The lambing and the lambs are the only good bit about sheep farming, because you only wade in when they’re in trouble. Holding the ewe steady when you’re trying to get to the lambs. Listening to the posh lady who used to run around with the helicopter, Anneka Rice, covering for someone at 2am on the radio, with all this bleating going on to the rumble of the generator. Special times.

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What will you be carving this Christmas?

Turkey. I had a calf called Noel that I was fattening up, but he didn’t quite come right. We renamed him Jesus and thought we might have him at Easter.

Will it be a temperate meal for the Clunes clan, or lashings of booze with the turkey?

You know those giant bottles of red wine? One of those each. We do alcohol.

What were Christmases like for you as a boy?

They were OK. My father died when I was eight, so I remember they were a little bit grim when I was in my mid-teens, because it was a bit of a thin family – the three of us, then my sister was off with friends. But there were presents, so that made up for it. I’m a big fan of my family now, quite possibly because of that. It’s the most important thing to me.

This article originally appeared in the Christmas double issue of Radio Times magazine.

Doc Martin's Christmas special airs Christmas Day on ITV at 9:05pm. Looking for something to watch? Visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


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