'Doc Martin’s' Caroline Catz on working with talented 3-year-old in the new season

2019-09-30 10:18
 
Martin Clues, Caroline Catz and Elliot Blake in 'D

Cape Town - Martin Clunes and Caroline Catz return to play the popular grumpy medic and his long-suffering wife in a brand-new series of Doc Martin which starts Monday, 30 September on ITV Choice (DStv 123).

Caroline plays Doc Martin’s wife, Louisa Ellingham, who has resigned from her job as headmistress at the local school to pursue a new career in child counselling.

The 49-year-old says she is delighted to share the limelight with the new star of Doc Martin - a three-year-old boy who plays her son James Henry.

"Elliott (Blake) who plays James is an adorable little boy. He is the best. He is so winning, and lovely and really on the ball.

"We have been so lucky. He’s only three, but he has taken the whole thing in his stride. The first day on set he was all lovely, bright and smiley, and you couldn’t have expected a better start to the shoot.

"Philippa (Braithwaite, the producer) brought him a present to unwrap on his first day. It was a truck which he absolutely loved.

"He just took to it naturally, and it has been so easy. We have not had a single moment of having to wait for something to change - like feeling happy or feeling sad. He is very chilled out. He had a couple of acting games to get him used to repeating, looking happy, looking sad. I think that helped.

"With Elliott, you get the sense that he really enjoys coming to see everyone. He knows everyone, knows how it works, and even when he didn’t know how it works, he was interested and asking how it worked. He was the right personality for it. He’s a little poppet.

"When he comes on set, he puts his arms up to me for a cuddle.

"At the end of a rehearsal, he will say 'where is my yellow mark' because I always have a yellow mark to stand on, and he stands next to me, and he has his own yellow mark. So he stands on his mark and tells me what to do.

"We had a really lovely scene where we had to talk to each other, and I thought this would be hard as he had to learn lines. I am talking to him about the friends in his class, and we had decided to swap the names around because it wasn’t working, and Elliott kept correcting me, saying that’s not the name it’s the other one. I told him we’d changed the name and he said 'but it’s not right'."

When the producers ran radio adverts to find a little boy to play the role of James Henry, there were more than 250 phone calls from parents in Cornwall.

LIFE FATHER, LIKE SON

At the beginning of the new series, Louisa has concerns that James Henry is becoming too much like his father.

"It began last series where it started to dawn on Louisa that there are elements of Martin’s personality that she was hoping that James might not emulate. In that as much as she loves Martin, she secretly likes the idea that James should be a bit easier socially than Martin is, and she is very torn.

"On the one hand, she feels quite guilty that she has any expectations of what James ought to be like, on the other hand, she desperately does not want him to be picking up on the slightly more anti-social side of Martin’s nature.

"You start to see that James is more and more like Martin. He looks like Martin and behaves similarly to Martin."

Martin Clues as Dr. Martin Ellingham and Elliot Bl

BUSY MOM AND A NEW CAREER

Louisa is juggling being a busy mom, and starting a new career, after relinquishing the post she had as headmistress at Portwenn School, which is not as easy as she thought it would be.

"She is very much enjoying this life change, and it is suiting her with where James Henry is at as well.

"But there’s pangs for the school. She has a real vested interest in making sure it is still thriving, and she is very suspicious of the new head.

"Whilst she is very engrossed in her own work, she can’t help but be very curious, if slightly protective about what is going on at the school. She picks up that there has been a lot of changes, which is slightly annoying Louisa."

Caroline Catz as Louisa Ellingham in Doc Martin.

To begin her new career as a child counsellor, Louisa takes over the phlebotomy room at the Doc’s surgery. However, her first consultation with a patient, Bethany, doesn’t go smoothly. Her tutor, Sam, played by John Hollingworth, who is overseeing her, doesn’t realise how deep Bethany’s problems go, and Louisa’s relationship with Bethany becomes tricky.

Martin’s assessment for his suitability to continue as a GP provides Louisa with another concern. What happens if she doesn’t complete her course, the child counselling doesn’t work out, and Martin becomes unemployed?

"In episode one, a doctor from the General Medical Council comes into assess Martin who is quite blunt and tricky. Louisa is urging Martin to be polite and play the game. Out of politeness and to promote goodwill, she invites the GMC doctor to lunch with them, this goes spectacularly wrong. Martin speaks his mind as you would expect he would, and Louisa has to stand up for him in the face of some quite difficult conversations.

"There is a lot at stake, and there are a lot of changes happening. In the middle of it all, even though there is all this going on around them, there is the thought that perhaps James needs a brother or sister and may be that will be the thing that makes everything better. But it also throws another element of chaos into the mix.

"What’s nice about Martin and Louisa being together now is that you have them trying to manage their lives and both at a crossroads in their careers.

"They have James, which has altered the way they are together, they are really trying so hard to be happy together.

"What I love about the series is that it picks up on all the things in life that do happen. The extremes of life; moments that happen and take you unawares. Real things that can get out of hand very quickly. There’s still a lot of fun in it. There is a very fine balance, just when you are going down a serious route, there is something to undercut it. Just like life."

Caroline faced a particular challenge when a storyline meant she had to chase Buddy, the dog around the cobbled streets and hills of Port Isaac.

"Buddy, the dog, goes missing and she is putting missing dog leaflets up everywhere to try to find him. She knows he must be somewhere in the village unless something terrible has happened. Then she spots him in the street and follows him, which meant me doing a lot of running after Buddy in high heel shoes up and down hills."

Tune in to Doc Martin Mondays at 20:00 on ITV Choice (DStv 123)

Compiled by Leandra Engelbrecht

(Photos supplied: ITV Choice)



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