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Doc Martin (2011): Dir. Ben Bolt

Doc Martin effortlessly captures the charm & eccentricity of Cornwall without ever becoming condescending or mean-spirited. Being as light & character-driven as it is, storyboarding is rarely needed on the show so it was a delight to be asked to do this one short sequence.

Doc Martin (Martin Clunes) climbs to the roof of the Port Wenn primary school to tend to bewildered janitor Mr Coley (Brian Pettifer), little expecting the interference of PC Penhale (John Marquez) trying to impress his girlfriend Maggie (Julie Graham).

The main concern here for director Ben Bolt, aside from safety issues, was that the actual school location doesn’t have the height to accommodate the action. Even with just the two actors on the ladder (originally, all three would have been on it with Martin trapped in the middle), Penhale’s feet would only be inches from the ground, making a mockery of his sudden vertigo. Simple but clever choices of camera angles gave an illusion of more height & a pre-built duplicate section of the roof allowed for a reverse angle (frames 7 & 13) when there just wasn’t enough room on the building itself. Regretfully, the sight gag of Penhale falling on his arse was omitted.

I visited on the actual day of shooting & it felt as charming as the show. Martin Clunes entertained the large crowd that was watching from the edge of the school’s car-park, the kids were real troopers despite the sweltering heat & Ian McNeice dropped by. This rough video I did at the time continues to get hits on-line which further testifies to the continued popularity of the show.