It's hard to believe that a show as popular and long-running as Doc Martin has been has never had a Christmas special prior to this point, but it hasn't. At least not until now, as the show prepares to close out its ten season, two decade run with a festive holiday installment, an hour that will finally see television's grumpiest doctor learn about the true magic of the season after a series of predictably ridiculous events that involve him (at least temporarily) ruining the fun for everyone else.
Portwenn is full of Christmas cheer until Martin (Martin Clunes) decides he needs to shut down the local Santa's grotto upon suspicion that Leonard (guest star Ron Cook), the man playing Jolly Old St. Nick, may have something contagious that could give the local kids a lot more than a stocking full of treats. Annoyed at this turn of events, Leonard decides it's his job to teach "Doc the Grinch" about the magic of Christmas, and plenty of unintended consequences ensue.
Meanwhile, Martin's wife Louisa (Caroline Catz) works to arrange a holiday parade through town, and, after a mishap, Martin himself is forced to confront some of his lingering fears in order to embrace the festive spirit. It's true, this all sounds like exactly what we'd expect from a Doc Martin Christmas special, but it's sort of lovely that the show will not only get to end on such a charmingly satisfying emotional note, but that it will get the chance to check this last, missing box in its (literal!) final hour.
"You can imagine the doctor isn’t too keen on Christmas for his own tortured reasons," Clunes told ITV earlier this year. "It’s never stopped making me laugh, I don’t know why because if it was a real person who had had such an awful upbringing you’d feel nothing but pity for them, but because it is him it just makes me laugh."
Among the series’ returning cast for its final outing alongside Clunes and Catz include Dame Eileen Atkins as Doc Martin's formidable Aunt Ruth, Ian McNeice as Bert Large, and Joe Absolom as Bert's son, Al. John Marquez also returns as PC Joe Penhale, alongside Jessica Ransom as the doctor's former receptionist Morwenna Newcross and Selina Cadell as local pharmacist and neighborhood gossip Mrs. Tishell.
And, the concluding festive installment isn't the only gift Doc Martin is offering up for fans this holiday season.
After nearly two decades on the air, the new documentary special Farewell Doc Martin will take fans behind the scenes to celebrate the show's legacy and reveal the process of making the series' final season. From scripting and pre-production to shooting and delivery, viewers will not only meet the regular characters that live and work in the picturesque Cornish town of Portwenn, but the key crew behind the camera, the residents of Port Isaac (the show’s real-life setting), and the visitors who come to the seaside village solely because Doc Martin films there.
Both the series finale of Doc Martin and the behind-the-scenes documentary Farewell Doc Martin will be available to stream on Acorn TV beginning Saturday, December 31.
Seasons 1-10 of the incredibly popular comedy are already available to stream on Acorn TV, and earlier seasons of the show frequently air on local PBS stations, so check your local listings.