Although the fictional Dr. Martin Ellingham hates dogs with a fiery passion and is often seen chasing strays from his surgery, the actor who portrays him, Martin Clunes, is a great lover of dogs and brings them with him to the sets every day.
Quite often during the series there are references to people being "a bit Bodmin". This is a reference to the fact that Bodmin was once the county town, and so the home of the Cornwall County Lunatic Asylum.
In the UK the show has been a ratings success for ITV1, the third series achieving ITV1's best midweek drama performance in the 9pm slot since December 2004. The final episode of the third series was watched by over 10 million viewers and netted the programme's highest-ever viewing figures.
Sky Television originally made two TV movies with the Dr. Martin Bamford character from Saving Grace (2000), called Doc Martin (2001) and Doc Martin and the Legend of the Cloutie (2003). Martin Clunes' production company signed a six-film contract, at two films a year for three years, but Sky Pictures folded after the first two were completed. Clunes then took the concept to ITV, who liked the basic idea but wanted it to be more than just a "fish out of water" story. So, the Doctor's back-story and personality were changed. It's possible the name change came about for copyright reasons.
Tourists have mistaken the real-life village of St. Wenn in Cornwall for the fictional Portwenn in Doc Martin. Tourists have asked the villagers if St. Wenn's where Doc Martin is filmed. They are directed to the actual filming location, Port Isaac; which is about 15 miles away.
A long running joke is the suggestive names of some of the minor patients, often referred to only by name and not actually seen. For example, in Series 6 there was Dan Gleballs (dangly balls) and Ben Twilley (bent willy), and in Series 7 there was Drew Peacock (droopy cock).
Although this show prides itself on being shot on location in Cornwall, the entire set of Doc Martin's house (other than the exterior) is built in the barn of a farm outside Port Isaac. The set has movable walls to accommodate camera work and equipment.
This series is credited as "arising from" the film Saving Grace (2000). However the main character, played by Martin Clunes in both cases, is called Dr. Martin Bamford in the film and Dr. Martin Ellingham in this series. Also, the personality and the back-story of the two characters are different.
Although Martin Clunes' character is the only one to carry over (with significant back-story changes) from the telefilms, Tristan Sturrock joins Clunes as the only actor (thus far) to appear in both versions of Doc Martin.
Ian McNiece, who plays the owner of the less-than-5-star Large Restaurant, acted in a previous British comedy series about a gourmet restaurant. In Series 3 of the comedy "Chef," he played the alcoholically challenged gourmet cook Gustave LaRoche.
Ian McNiece playing Joe Absolom's father in the series was foreshadowed by the 1994 film "Escape From Absolom", which in that film McNiece's character King is a convict on a prison island called Absolom.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Although in reality full years go on between shooting the series, the audience is always led to believe that barely a month or so has occurred between each series. The only exception is Louisa leaving at the end of series three and returning back to Portwenn in series four, six months later, heavily pregnant.
It's mentioned by the characters in series four that the stray dog that hangs around the surgery died somehow between the end of series three and the start of series four. Although no one feels the need to elaborate on how this exactly happened, they make suggestive comments that Ellingham murdered the dog. In real life, the dog that was used to film those shots had passed away.