The Other Filming Days

Now that I have written about the day I spent on the set being involved with the filming, I wanted to describe some things I noticed while I was simply watching. In total my husband and I were in Port Isaac renting a house at the top of Fore Street for 12 days. We arrived on a Monday and departed the Saturday of the next week. That means we were in Port Isaac for one weekend during which there was, of course, no filming. My day on the set was the first Wednesday we were there and that was extremely fortuitous because after that the weather became erratic to say the least.

We watched some filming on the Tues. after we arrived and I found the location of the so-called filming schedule. I would say two things about posting a schedule: 1. We learned quickly that no schedule could be followed because of the unpredictable nature of the weather, and 2. If they are filming in Port Isaac or Port Gaverne, it’s pretty obvious where they are because of the trucks, equipment and crew swarming around. We happened to be able to go to the top floor of the house we rented and look out across the harbour to Roscarrock Hill and see if anything was happening out there. If there wasn’t any sign of action, we could take a walk down the hill into the village and immediately tell if they were filming there OR we could walk down the other side of the hill into Port Gaverne and quickly see if there was filming going on below. It may be a courtesy to the town and the people who live and work there to post a schedule, but while we were there, and I venture to guess more than 50% of the time, the weather forces a change. I will confess that I exercise a lot and have no trouble walking up and down the steep streets of these adjacent towns; however, the towns are so small and compact that I think anyone could sweep the area in twenty minutes or less to figure out where the filming is taking place.

We were primed to watch 9 days of filming, but ended up with 6: Tues., Wed., Thurs., and the following Wed., Thurs., and Fri. There was no filming in town on the first Fri. for some unknown reason, perhaps filming indoors or taking a break, and the Mon. and Tues. after the weekend had monsoon type rain and wind, not to mention cold. When they resumed filming on Wed., they had to be very behind schedule for the outdoor shots. Even that Wed. was not a great day to be outside because the wind made us very chilly. That was the day from which you’ve probably seen many photos. The entire day was spent near and on the beach at Port Gaverne (and I use the term beach liberally here). I have some pictures to share from that day too, some of which I haven’t seen posted anywhere yet.


The beach at Port Gaverne, 20 May 2015: rocky, muddy, windy. You can see some sunbathers on the right huddling behind a wind screen. (Wind screens are used on many beaches in Cornwall.) They were only there as extras and never figured much in the filming. I bet they were pretty cold though!

My general observation is that the choice of Port Isaac as a location may be scenic and charming, but is fraught with all sorts of challenges. Apart from the changeable weather and windy, cold temps throughout much of the filming period, PI seems to be a popular place for people to hike through and to enjoy for a day. The place was no ghost town on the weekends even though there is never any filming then. As I mentioned in my previous post, people come there with dogs and children and wander the narrow streets, walk along the coast path, eat ice cream, and enjoy the scenery. Then there are the vehicles that seem intent on driving though town no matter what the obstacles. On the first day we watched filming, there was a construction vehicle with a substantial size loader on its front that kept going up and down Roscarrock Hill while they were attempting to film a scene with ME, the nanny and the baby. (This was the scene in which the young teenager stands too close to JH’s stroller while looking at her mobile phone and ME taps her phone and angrily asks her what she wants.) There were plenty of people bunched together trying to watch and we all had to move out of the vehicle’s way each time they drove through the scene. The hill is narrow, steep and has very little cushioning on the side, but that didn’t bother these guys. At one point, they had to stop for the take to be shot and we all stood up against the vehicle in a precarious position. In addition, there is almost no phone reception. There were several times when I saw people who work on the show holding more than one phone and trying hard to find a place that would get reception. The crew uses two way radios to communicate with each other most of the time, and that’s true on many productions, but it’s especially necessary in PI. (We also had terrible radio reception in the car.) The selection of PI definitely tests the crew in many ways.

Since we were staying in Port Isaac, we went to other villages in the area during the days without filming. The other villages and towns were also filled with visitors, some more than others.

We saw:

  1. Wadebridge: closest sizable town to PI and a good place to go for supplies. It has a pedestrian mall with several banks with ATMs, some shops, restaurants, pharmacies, grocery stores, etc.
  2. Delabole: a good place to wash our car and get gas. We got so much seagull bombing on the car that it was sometimes disagreeable to try to open the door. The town is inland and tiny, maybe one main street and not much else.
  3. Newquay: a surprisingly honky-tonk city with arcades, all sorts of stores selling beach wares because there is a decent beach once you walk past the conglomeration of places selling stuff. There is an airport just outside Newquay which makes it accessible as well as functional. It did not look to me like the airport used in S6E8.
  4. Tintagel: where there are the ruins of a castle and some nice views. This is definitely a tourist destination and tour buses swing through regularly.
  5. Boscastle: where there is a river flowing through the center of town, unless it’s low tide. It has a touristy feel to it because there is a designated parking area from which to take walks as well as several shops. It’s quite scenic though and I have now seen pictures from when they were filming there.
  6. Rock: where the houses are more upscale, there is a golf course and resort with the main Nathan Outlaw’s restaurant, and a lovely Bay to look at. We were lucky with the weather that day and enjoyed having a drink while sitting on the porch of the restaurant looking down at the Bay. This town is very close to PI.
  7. Truro: we actually saw this on our way to Bath but since it’s often mentioned in the show, it’s worth noting here. We checked out the hospital areas and did not determine which hospital was used for any of the outside shots. It has more stores and would be a place to shop.

I know we should have gone to Padstow and some other nearby towns, but we saw a lot.

At any rate, as you’ve read in many places, each scene is done many times over from various angles and that requires the runners and crew to keep herding the onlookers from one position to another. We couldn’t really complain since we were getting in their way and were a nuisance, but they must be feeling a mixture of flattery and frustration with all the onlookers. It’s also quite difficult to hear any of the dialogue. We weren’t that far away, but their voices aren’t that loud and the sound doesn’t carry that well. I think it’s pretty hard to put together what’s happening by seeing 2-3 minute takes during which you can’t really make out what’s being said. While we were there episode 5 was being filmed. We saw 6 days of that episode being filmed and I would still be guessing as to how they will arrange it all in the end. I have some ideas, but it remains to be seen if I made the correct deductions. I also think they filmed some scenes that will be eliminated during the editing phase. (Maybe that’s obvious!)

As you’ve read repeatedly, MC willingly allows people to take a picture with him whenever there is a break in the action. There was always an immediate rush to go through his receiving line to have him smile for each picture. He was always good natured about it. There was no such rush to have a picture with the nanny or JH or the teenager.

I noted that John Marquez had a very busy day on the Wednesday that I did the walk-on part. Well, following that long day, he had a four day weekend and a young woman who seemed to be his girlfriend arrived. By chance we kept bumping into them everywhere we went for the next two days. First we saw them in Wadebridge, then we went for a walk up Roscarrock Hill and saw them taking a selfie with PI in the background. I offered to take their picture for them and they accepted.

The Wednesday following the two days of heavy rain and wind found everyone in Port Gaverne. The first scene they attempted to film was of the BBQ in front of the police station. In this scene, Penhale has invited Al, Morwenna and Janice to the Police Station for an outdoor get together. This all sounds good until they tried filming it with the wind blowing and the temps hovering in the low 50s. The crew set up a wind screen to try to reduce the wind and the actors gamely made it look as though they were enjoying a nice, warm day when they were really freezing cold. The two young women were dressed in their summer attire, but kept their winter parkas and boots on as long as possible. The men made an effort to look warm too but also wore their coats as much as they could. Joe Absalom has a very short haircut at the moment and put his hood on regularly. Those of us crazy enough to be watching were also shivering, with the exception of some people for whom temps in the 50s feel warm. I think my right ear froze in the wind because I wasn’t wearing anything on my head! (Naturally we sacrificed for the event that we had traveled so far to see.)


At the table


Morwenna and Janice waiting to enter the scene


The ladies are surprised to discover the bottles are real. Joe and Al stand in the background behind director with Al’s furry hood around his neck.


Here’s Al/Joe with his hood on

The cold wind led to some problems with lighting the BBQ and I’m pretty sure they suspended filming it that day in favor of waiting for a better opportunity. But that gave me a chance to take a picture from the actor’s POV:


They arranged for the grill to have a big flame upon lighting

They then turned to filming scenes with Louisa, Martin and JH having a picnic at the beach. First they had to overcome a rivulet that made it difficult for the couple to walk across the beach to their destination. They decided they needed a few well-placed stepping stones to keep them from having wet feet.


Caroline even helped. She had no trouble finding several stones to use.

Next came the filming of the two of them, Louisa carrying the picnic basket while Martin carries JH and the sand bucket. The plan was for Martin to notice some sunbathers as he walks past them with Louisa leading the way. Not only did these young ladies have to lie out in skimpy outfits, but also they had to appear to be having a lovely day at the beach. Martin can’t help but stop and (most likely) warn them of the dangers of too much sun. The hiccup was that every time Martin leaned over to talk to the nearest young lady, the baby he was carrying would start to cry. They tried it several times and leaning over did not suit the baby; he cried every time. At first Martin did as much as he could to comfort the little guy and they wrapped him in a blanket, but once he was settled down again and they could do another take, the same thing happened. I must say that Martin was very good with the baby. The young one just wasn’t having it.



The above will not be part of the episode. It was just MC soothing the baby. I don’t know if they will keep that segment in and allow JH to cry or have to ditch it.

Louisa has continued past the sunbathers and retraces her steps to extract Martin from lecturing them. It’s a scene reminiscent of so many from the past and totally in character for ME. For that reason, I hope they are able to include it. I saw that there were other scenes filmed on the beach that involved a teenager throwing a frisbee into the Ellingham family space and the Ellinghams attempting to eat something. I was not present for those scenes and will be interested to see what gets used.

Martin was at the beach the entire day, which gave us all lots of time to watch him. There’s no question that he is the main attraction and just about everyone coming to see the filming is most interested in taking pictures of him and with him. There’s also no doubt that he is well aware of this. My impression is that he is performing all the time, either as Martin Ellingham or as Martin Clunes. He has an uncanny ability to switch each of these characters on and off at will. Thus, when it’s time to rehearse and/or film, he snaps into his ME demeanor and satisfies the demands of filming. As soon as the take is over, he snaps into his MC persona and makes the most of where he is. It’s easy to see that he genuinely enjoys people and dogs (not necessarily in that order) and is making the most of the days he spends on the set.

In the case of being on the beach, he took treats from Dodger’s trainer and danced around with the dog seemingly unconcerned about getting paw prints or splatters on his pants, then he waved at all of us watching from behind the stone wall above, and at one point, he took out his own camera from the backpack he carries with him and started taking pictures of the crew, etc. He even had fun taking a selfie:


He also climbed the rocks that jutted out along the edge of the beach and joked around with Caroline Quentin and John Marquez. (If you see pictures of him jumping down from the rocks or otherwise messing around, you should know that those are not part of the show and just scenes of MC having fun.) They were rehearsing and filming the scene captured by many of Angela (CQ) acting like she sees something in the sky and then running into the ocean. Penhale (JM) runs after her asking ME if he should tase her but ultimately tackles her in the water. (That final part is done by stunt doubles and John Marquez expressed his appreciation by giving them a loud round of applause once they completed it. I’m sure he was very glad he didn’t have to fall into the water in those temps. I checked… the air temp was 50 F and so was the water temp.!!) Angela has been acting as though she sees things that aren’t there throughout her appearances and is probably having side effects from medication she’s taking.

It took a while for all of the beach scenes to be completed and, once again, the crew were exceptionally dedicated. Eventually the tide started to come in and they had to keep moving the equipment closer and closer towards town. I never stopped being impressed with the amount of energy they all had. They truly go non-stop, all day long.

The final two days of filming we were able to see had more to do with scenes of Louisa with students and a bit of Ruth with Bert. Thursday actually turned out to be a warmer, sunnier day and filming began on Dolphin St. where Ruth’s residence is. The street is not wide enough for cars, thank goodness, and Ruth’s house is on a fairly steep rise. We arrived there to find that the exterior of the house was wrapped with black sheathing.


Long shot


Close up

Although it was morning, they were shooting a scene that is supposed to take place at night. As you can see, we were all in the dark and could not see what was going on. A little while later they took down the sheathing and we were able to watch Bert approach the door, knock on it, and talk to Ruth. What I heard him say was something like he wanted to come by before he left and thought she would appreciate him “doing something” (I couldn’t make out what). She responds in some way and then rather abruptly shuts the door on him while saying “Goodbye Bert.” He could have been suggesting another of his rather questionable proposals or any number of other things. She was clearly not interested. (I heard someone conjecture that ME must have been inside and slammed the door on Bert because that would be more typical of him, but there was absolutely no sign of MC and Ruth’s voice clearly pronounced the goodbye. I’d say this is how rumors get started.)

I had watched a scene with Ruth the previous week in which she was asked to walk towards the pharmacy carrying a couple of bags that seem to weigh her down. They tried that scene a variety of ways because Dame Eileen was not happy with her approach nor with where they situated the conversation between Ruth and Mrs. T. In the end, Ruth carries only one bag and does not appear nearly as worn out, then she walks in front of the pharmacy only to be confronted with Mrs. T. Mrs. T is in a tizzy because Clive has returned and she tells Ruth he wants to try again. The ever practical Ruth tells Mrs. T to talk to Clive and find out more from him. They toyed with the scene several times and I can’t say which version they will settle on. However, the way they adjusted the scene demonstrated how much the actors contribute to each scene, and the respect the director has for the actors’ intuitions.

Friday was Caroline Catz day. From early in the morning until late in the evening, CC was filmed in various locations. The day started out rather foggy, but filming began on Roscarrock Hill. I missed the very beginning. When I got over there, they were filming a segment that involved two students and their teacher lagging behind and needing to be urged along. They had the planets that figured in scenes throughout the day. It looked like the class was walking to a field perhaps where they might arrange the planets as a display for understanding their relationship to each other (?). (Again that’s pure speculation on my part.) Eventually we watched as Headmistress Ellingham led the way holding a large orange sphere in one hand and a student’s hand in the other as the class heads up the hill. Part way up she turns to talk to the teacher bringing up the rear. I would imagine that we’ll see the two students with the teacher at that point. My sense was that they were using Roscarrock Hill without any reference to actually walking by the surgery building. This is also speculation, but there seemed to be no relationship to being in the vicinity of the surgery as they walked up the hill. I know you’ve seen pictures from this scene, but I’ll throw in one of mine:



Later the filming resumed at the schoolhouse where the students were supposed to be playing on their hard surface playground and then line up to walk from there with the planets. Basically, the day was scenes filmed in reverse order. Here they are ready to depart from the schoolyard:




Having observed Caroline Catz as she negotiates the filming of her scenes, I have to say that she seems to be a serious actor who probably needs to stay within her character while working. I can’t say this unequivocally, but I would imagine that it’s more typical of actors to tune out distractions so that they can present their best work. The working conditions in PI place actors extremely close to the onlookers, and some of those onlookers have no hesitations about talking to the actors. One rather disturbing incident my husband witnessed was during a scene when Louisa and Martin are headed down an alley that spills out into the harbour area. Louisa is carrying the picnic basket that she later brings to the beach and Martin is walking behind her pushing JH in the stroller. As they left the alley and came around the corner one rude man loudly said to Caroline, “You don’t need to be so angry.” This was totally inappropriate and rather obnoxious. She’s in character, forced to walk into a crowd, and then he thinks it’s ok to berate her or taunt her. Enough of those sorts of experiences and anyone would want to be shielded. It’s a sad fact that women need to be more careful than men when surrounded by strangers. Caroline may also be less of an extrovert than MC, but she makes plenty of appearances at all sorts of events. She is simply more private and less interested in working the crowd. Even so, she’s a good sport and does have her picture taken with fans quite often.

It was really interesting to watch how they handle all of the features of the village and accommodate the fans while doing their best to get the filming accomplished. I live in a city in NC (Wilmington) that has had many TV shows and movies filmed in it. It’s not a big city, but it’s much larger than Port Isaac. Plus we have a Screen Gems studio here for indoor scenes and many places around town that are converted into various settings. They often block off streets for filming and alert us that we might hear gunfire or other noises and not to be alarmed. TV shows “Sleepy Hollow” and “Under the Dome” have been filmed here recently; “One Tree Hill” and “Dawson’s Creek” were filmed here for many years. But our area is so much more spread out and quite a bit larger that I’m sure the film crews are not nearly as under pressure as the crew working on DM. They not only work together all day, but they also live with each other in and around modest and remote PI. I know most of the actors live there too while filming. I can only give them a standing ovation for managing it all for close to half a year.




Originally posted 2015-06-28 09:56:24.

12 thoughts on “The Other Filming Days

  1. Santa Traugott

    Great insight about Martin Clunes going from his Martin Ellingham persona to his Martin Clunes persona without skipping a beat. I’ve gotten past being cynical about MC — I think he is in most ways as nice as he appears to be to his fans, yet I also feel he is a good deal more ginger-y, and has more edges to him, when he is with people he knows well and trusts. As we all would be, I suppose.

  2. Post author

    I think so too. We’ve seen him get a little irritated with journalists for sure, and now and then he makes a remark that shows his moody side. I seem to remember him making some derogatory remark about writers who lobby for more credit for their work. I am particularly sensitive to putdowns of writers, as you know. If anyone thinks a show/film can be successful without writers, I challenge them to try making one without them.

    Of course none of us can be charming and fun-loving all the time unless we’re on some controlled substance (or maybe even then!).

  3. Linda D.

    It sounds that you really made the most of your time in Cornwall Karen. It has enabled you to see lots of the surrounding areas which are ALL so beautiful in their own right. The architecture in England was SO fascinating to us – so beautiful and so well preserved. Canada itself is a “baby” in comparison. Our Confederation is ONLY 148 years old so although there are many beautiful historic areas – mainly in the east, we have nothing to compare with England. Clearly, in Port Isaac, there is a wish preserve historical properties but I also heard that there is some dissention from those who NEED to renovate and are faced with rules that require them to replace things like windows with things similar to what they have. that eliminates energy efficient windows and doors. We live on an ocean and saltwater and wind really cause a lot of damage to siding, stucco, roofs, and windows. There are many trades people in North Cornwall who work steady to keep these old weathered buildings looking their best. I imagine it is very costly and it may be hard to find people with the expertise to do that work properly. New builds look funny in that setting but I laughed when we passed through new neighborhoods while on the train to see whole areas of NEW “2 up, 2 down” houses – all alike and just like historical houses!

    We noticed that yards and gardens were very small compared with what we consider acceptable size land on which we build houses. But, the flowers and rock gardens in Port Isaac were SO beautiful. I have hundreds of pictures! It really was like being in a different world!

    I enjoyed the local businesses and restaurants. People were so helpful and friendly. Even when the pasty shops were packed at lunch, everyone stayed patient in spite of the lines. I tried different pasties and enjoyed them all while favoring the plain steak! It was best not to think about the calories and fat in those delicious pies. There was a good selection of souvenir items and really, – NO JUNK – save for a few toys to attract kids. After, London, that was nice to see. We bought quite a few things! Clam buckets and nets seem to be the favorite of every child! We purchased paintings from the Top Cliff Gallery and at Secrets – where, by the way, I found the only map of Port Isaac that wasn’t a “Doc Martin” tour map.

    I never heard a Cornish accent. Did you? I suppose if you were among locals, especially older folks, you might have heard Cornish being spoken but I was disappointed not to notice it.

    You are SO right about the difficult filming conditions – weather, crowds, finite spaces etc. I expect it wears thin to have your every move photographed while rehearsing, while filming, between takes, and on free time. It must be doubly hard as crowds increase and as their filming time draws to a close. The must pray for good weather and good “takes” so they can finish filming on time and have a holiday.Martin Clunes is star attraction and he knows it. He is outgoing and enjoys attention and sometimes enjoys the “banter”. Still, he must find it tiring and annoying because it never stops. He seems to suffer a bad back and I imagine all that standing must really kill him. People are SO excited to see the cast but sometimes get too pushy, or feel “entitled” to snap endless pictures. They talk, snap cameras, and forget about the need for silence mostly because they are so engrossed in the filming and don’t listen. They complain when someone walks into one of their shots! I would say that the vast majority of on-lookers are pretty respectful but there are always those few who you’d like to throttle! You can’t blame them for their enthusiasm! Caroline Catz is tiny, and not as outgoing. I expect she feels a bit claustrophobic and maybe unsafe in those crowds. As you say, they are true professionals when they can shut it all out and do their scenes. This access would just NOT happen elsewhere!

    They are ALL, cast AND crew, REMARKABLE!

  4. Post author

    You’re right, Linda, we never heard an authentic Cornish accent and I would have liked to.

    You are also right about the salt air being corrosive. We live on the Atlantic Ocean and there’s no question that our houses suffer the effects of the elements and air. I have to say, though, that the house we rented had recently undergone some updating and they had put in new windows and new glass doors that opened onto the patio. We never used the patio, but we enjoyed the sunlight that the new doors allowed in. There certainly isn’t much space in PI for outdoor gardens. I suppose if you want more land, you buy or build outside of town.

    I’m afraid we weren’t very good consumers. We bought very little. Instead of pasties we ate lobster and crab. Where we live we have lots of oysters, clams, shrimp, as well as fresh tuna, grouper, swordfish, etc. Having an opportunity to gorge ourselves on fresh lobster was something we couldn’t pass up.

  5. Mary F.

    Well none of us is perfect. I ‘m sure he wishes he could bite his tongue sometimes just like the rest of us. There would be no show, let alone a show that has lasted 10 years, without excellent writing. I really enjoyed all your stories and descriptions of life in PI. England has always fascinated me and am looking forward to my next trip.

  6. Post author

    Thanks for writing Mary. It’s always nice to know what people are thinking. We enjoyed seeing a part of England we’d never been to before. There are daily flights to London from Raleigh, NC and that makes the trip easy for us. I’m sure we’ll go again sometime.

  7. Santa Traugott

    I have to emphasize how much I appreciate the writers on this show, and especially Jack Lothian. I am wondering about the division of labor between the producers and the writers, specifically, how much direction do they get for the plot of each episode? We know they start with the progress they want to make on the main story arc, and then weave in a couple of more or less related substories, one of which is medical. First, do you think that the degree of specificity of instructions about what is to happen is different with each writer? and second, how specific do you think the instructions are? I’m thinking that the writers are told that they have to get from here to there, and then left alone to figure out the plot devices that will accomplish this. Then their submissions are heavily edited, as we have been told numerous times.

  8. Laura H

    Again, a really fascinating post about the filming. Thank you for sharing this with us. Through watching a clip of Scott McPhee, who is sound editor, and his comments about the challenges of keeping good sound despite many seagull noises, it makes one appreciate the trials and tribulations of filming, but your post about the heavy equipment challenge and even a rude spectator leaves me in awe of how they ever get through the filming, especially when adding in the weather complication. If possible, I think I appreciate the show even more now. Thanks, too, for such good information about nearby towns. Like others, I’d like to make the trip some day, and this really is a wonderful guide.

  9. Post author

    I don’t have much exact information about the writers for DM in particular. What I know happens here, and I think is similar in UK, is the writers and producers put their heads together before each series and together come up with the story arc. After that each writer is usually assigned certain episodes and they are asked to write and to come up with their own ideas. I would say that with most writers there would not be “heavy” editing. In fact, when there is a conflict about something, the writer’s ideas might prevail. The biggest adjustment might be when there is a scene or action included that simply doesn’t coincide with what has been typical of the characters. Writers are often called in during the shooting of scenes too because the director and/or actors find something inappropriate while filming and need a rewrite of the scene. So it’s an organic process that includes input from many sources. From what I know, the writers spend a lot of time refining their work until they are pleased with it and ready to send it in to be read. Like anything, they are professionals and good at what they do, which means their work should not require much changing.

  10. Santa Traugott

    I have the impression that these scripts are very heavily edited. At least, Martin Clunes always talks about how long it takes to “get it right” which suggests a lengthy editing process (to me, anyway). And I’d be interested to know if anyone who’s been to filming has ever met a writer down there. Somewhere I’ve heard that they do a lot of rewriting on the spot, if Martin decides something isn’t working, but I don’t think the original writers are involved at that point. Interestingly, there was a panel discussion a couple of years ago, of which Caroline Catz was a panelist, and she said something about she and Martin having a “Monday club” and going over the scripts and deciding what would work and not work — even as late as that.
    I think BP doesn’t have sort of a writing crew, and a writing room, or a chief writer (although Jack Lothian probably comes closest) but a stable of writers that they trust, that they commission to write episodes, after the story line is decided on. I think there’s a process by which they convince themselves — Philippa, Mark Crowdy, Martin, and whoever the lead director might be — that they have more to say and a plausible story line for the next series, which they can then sell to ITV.
    Anyway, someday we’ll have to get a debriefing on this process. It’s so fascinating.

  11. Post author

    You know what? I remember some of the comments you refer to and all of what you say can be true while still not contradicting what I suggested. The “lengthy” process of “getting it right” might occur in the period of time between the end of one series and the beginning of the next. They take two years, a very long time for most series, and they work on other projects but could be thinking about the next DM series on and off.

    It seems to me that, after all these years, they have settled on certain writers who they consider the best ones for the series and who have earned their confidence. They may still have sessions during which Caroline and Martin go over what’s ahead. I’d be surprised if they don’t talk through their lines and the scenes in general. They are both integral to the show and knowledgeable actors and should have a say. They may not have writers in residence, but they may contact them wherever they are (for Jack Lothian it may be Thailand) and review an episode or scene to make adjustments.

    I think we are mainly quibbling over the meaning of heavily editing something. I think you are referring to the early rounds of writing before they’ve decided what they are happy with and I am referring to the end product and how much it’s changed after the final script is accepted. In the U.S. writers contracts include a certain number of rewrites. Rewrites are expected and part of the process.

  12. Santa Traugott

    I think we’re in agreement here, largely anyway.

    I do wonder if they really have two years to get the scripts ready. They probably don’t really get going on the process until late in 2013, e.g., or early in 2014. Then, they start filming in March of 2015. I’d be surprised if they have 8 scripts done and dusted before filming starts in March, with only minor on the spot editing as needed. Perhaps there’s some kind of rolling process, where the first several scripts are ready, rewritten at least the contractual number of times (that must be true in England as well as U.S, I would think) and then the next block is being intensively edited, while the first is being filmed, and so on.

    The closest comparison to U.S. and UK writing process probably would be a 6-8 part HBO special, or maybe a 12 episode one, as opposed an ongoing broadcast network serial like The Good Wife. But I still think they’re rather different models. Here’s an interesting article about Nic Pizzalato, the screenwriter and producer for True Detective — just because this process is so interesting. But I just think the Doc Martin model is somewhat different, where the roles of creative architecht, let’s call it, and screenwriter are more separate. In other words, clearly Nic Pizzaloto combines something of the roles of Phillippa, Mark Crowdy and Jack Lothian. Whereas, I think on Doc Martin, Phillippa and Jack Lothian have more degrees of separation.

    Someday, we’ll be enough behind the scenes to figure this all out. If we could just have a quiet half-hour with Jack Lothian!

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