Posts Tagged ‘Doc Martin’

"The Library" is a planet sized book repository. Or is it? image credit BBC

“The Library” is a planet sized book repository. Or is it?
image credit BBC


As you probably already know, I work in a public library. I’ve talked about British related programs I’ve organized like the Time Lord Trivia Tournament, our British Car Day and, of course, the monthly gatherings of my support group for expats and lovers of British culture, Anglophiles United.

But when most people think of libraries, these fun, out-of-the-box activities are not what come to mind. They think of implacable librarians, drab in appearance and stern in attitude; scholarly and musty volumes, as dry in content as their fragile pages; and a vault-like atmosphere that is quiet as a tomb.

What follows are some British telly clips about libraries. I really had an enjoyable time searching for them. Some support the stereotypes above and others paint a more modern or friendly picture of libraries today.


Psychoville – Jeremy Goode (obsessive guardian of library material)


Later in this story, Jeremy actually shows up at the woman’s house hoping to recover her delinquent book. Real library staffers don’t actually fixate on things like this. People lose stuff all the time. We do send them to collections though if they misplace too many of the precious things of library and neglect to pay up of their own accord.


Mr. Bean – clumsy patron


Where I work, we don’t have such ancient and rare tomes and no gloves are required to touch anything on our shelves. That being said, we do unfortunately get items back in our book drop in less than pristine condition: food and beverage splatters, crayon scribbles, pages torn out and, yes, even sand under the plastic dust jacket of the book of the latest copy of ‘Girl on the Train’ or ‘Game of Thrones’.


Derek (and Kevin) – patrons with specific interests and tastes


We do get individuals like Derek who want to take out the same book over and over again. They are usually children, but Derek has a child-like quality about him. On the other end of the spectrum, we get blokes like Kevin in as well, but they are more likely to be using our computers to find  “adult images” than magazines.


The Old Guys – A mature, attractive librarian


We’re not all middle aged ladies in cardigans with glasses hanging on a chain around our necks.  In fact, harmless flirting has been known to happen across the circulation and reference desks. I work with women (and men) of various ages, fashion sense and style and temperaments. Some are enthusiastic and energetic while others are more reserved and timid. And believe it or not, there are some quite confident and ambitious librarians as well, rather like Barbara (Cherie Lunghi) the new librarian in the clip above.


Doc Martin – play group


Libraries don’t have to be deadly silent places, particularly in the children’s areas of the building. Young patrons are encouraged to sing, move and create. My library has a wide range of kids’ programming including infants and toddlers’ lap sit story times. You typically see mums with their little ones at events like this, but kudos to Dr. Ellingham for even showing up at a baby sing-a-long/play group.


Individual libraries, even within the same general area, can have very different amenities, rules and staffers. But universally, they are places for people who love books, stories, and learning. Besides being a full-time telly watcher, there’s no other job I’d rather have.

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This week’s Five for Friday list concerns the return of the beloved comedy/drama Doc Martin. The seventh (and reportedly final) series is currently airing in the UK on ITV and will soon be available in the US. The streaming service Acorn TV will premiere episodes one and two on Monday, October 5 with a new installment added every Monday through November 16. I’ve had an advance look and here’s five reasons why I think it’s worth coming back to Portwenn one more time.

1.The Doc starts therapy

Martin meets with therapist Dr. Timoney (Emily Bevan) image credit Buffalo Pictures

Martin meets with his new therapist 
image credit Buffalo Pictures

As you may recall, at the end if series six, a physically and emotionally battered Louisa (Caroline Catz) decided she needed time away to think about Martin and their marriage.  She packed up herself and baby James and headed to Spain to stay with her mother. Upon leaving Louisa strongly hinted that, in order for their relationship to progress, it might be a good thing for Martin to start seeing a therapist to deal with his myriad problems.

In series seven, Martin takes this request to heart and with a recommendation from his Aunt Ruth (Eileen Atkins) seeks out a therapist, Dr. Rachel Timoney (Emily Bevan). Louisa is pleasantly surprised when she learns of Martin’s compliance with her wishes. That is until she is summoned into a meeting with Dr. Timoney who seems to suggest that Martin is not the only one with issues.


2. The opening of Portwenn Fishing Holidays

Al Large (Joe Absolom) with his first unfortunate B&B guest image credit Buffalo Pictures

Al Large (Joe Absolom) with his first unfortunate B&B guest played by Gavin and Stacey’s Melanie Walters
image credit Buffalo Pictures

Also at the end of the last series, Al Large (Joe Absolom) convinced Ruth Ellingham to go into business with him. He planned to turn the farmhouse she inherited from her sister Joan into a bed and breakfast and the property into a retreat for fresh and seawater fishing which he would manage as well.

After a series of frustrating medical delays with the builders he hired, Al is now ready to welcome his first paying customers, the Merchants. Despite his best efforts, Al can’t catch a break and Mrs. Merchant seems to bear the brunt of every misfortune visited upon the enterprise of Portwenn Fishing Holidays.

3. Lots of Martin’s adorable pal, Buddy

Buddy and Doc image credit Neil Genower

Buddy and Doc
image credit Neil Genower and ITV

From the very beginning, we have witnessed the village dogs’ utter and inexplicable adoration for the Doc regardless of his obvious animosity towards them. This pattern continues in series seven with Martin reaching such a level of frustration that he resolves to take care of the Buddy problem for good. As you know, Martin Clunes, the actor who plays Dr. Ellingham, is a renowned lover of canines so I don’t think any harm will come to our little terrier friend.


4. Guest stars

Martin reunites with former co-star Caroline Quentin image credit Neil Genower and ITV

Martin reunites with former co-star Caroline Quentin
image credit Neil Genower and ITV

Besides the aforementioned Melanie Walters who played Stacey’s mum Gwen in Gavin and Stacey, there are a few other actors making guest appearances this series that you’re sure to recognize. Comedy character actress Rosie Cavaliero (Jam and Jerusalem, Spy, Hunderby and A Young Doctor’s Notebook) plays the new radio DJ in Portwenn. Though I haven’t seen the episode yet, Sigourney Weaver has been confirmed as a guest star this season as well. But I was most pleased to see Martin Clunes reunited with his former girlfriend from Men Behaving Badly, Caroline Quentin. There are some great antagonistic scenes between Dr. Ellingham and Quentin’s strong-willed holistic vet, Angela Sim.


5. Lots of Martin being rude

Just in case you were concerned that Martin’s exploits into therapy would render him completely unrecognizable, emotionally speaking, never fear! There’s still plenty of abrupt, blunt and surly Dr. Ellingham to go around.

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Chances are no matter where you live, at some point this summer, you have endured some pretty oppressive heat and humidity. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, dog days refers to the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere. The canine reference alludes to the heliacal rising of the Dog Star (Sirius) at this time of year.

So in order to help get your mind off your wilted, sweaty condition, I have gathered a collection of British telly “dog stars” for you to cuddle and adore, in that computer Facebook oohing and ahhing sort of way, of course.


Gromit – Wallace and Gromit

Tolerant of but noticeably brighter than his owner, Gromit is a multi-talented beagle, a Renaissance dog if you will.  He’s even good at sport:


GremlinDoc Martin

Dr. Ellingham abhors dogs and makes no secret of that fact.  (Ironically, Martin Clunes who plays the good doctor is a well-known dog lover.)  Dogs, however take a shine to him no matter how many times he turns them out from his house, car or just shoos them from his general vicinity.  Perhaps he unknowingly releases canine pheromones…


Gremlin, the loyal and persistant  image credit kcet.org

Gremlin, the loyal and persistant
image credit kcet.org

Gremlin, pictured above, was the Doc’s constant and unwanted chaperon for the first three series of the show until he passed away.  And though his replacement, Dodger, is undeniably adorable, Gremlin will always be my favorite as he reminds me of my Riley, a beloved dog I lost almost ten years ago.


Wee JockHamish MacBeth

A tenacious West Highland Terrier, Wee Jock was the steadfast companion of police officer, Hamish MacBeth.  The perfect combination of alarm dog and devoted friend, this pup was known to all in the village of Lochdubh.


Alas being the sidekick of a copper has its dangers and poor Jock was taken from his master in a hit and run accident.  A very sad day, especially for any dog lover.


IsisDownton Abbey

Isis - the epitome of the phrase "man's best friend"

Isis – the epitome of the phrase “man’s best friend”

Whenever I hear the opening strains of the Downton Abbey theme song, I can’t help but picture the wagging tail and hindquarters of a yellow lab walking next to its master – and it makes me smile.  In fact anytime Lord Grantham is at the estate, I take a quick look around for a glimpse of his ever present canine, Isis. With all the stress and chaos swirling around the Crawley clan, she never judges or abandons her master.

As gutting as the unfortunate deaths of Lady Sybil and Matthew Crawley were, the plot line that genuinely worried me the most in all of Downtown Abbey history was when evil footman Thomas temporarily kidnapped Isis in order to get a promotion for “rescuing” her and proceeded to lose track of her all together.


K9Doctor Who

And finally, a dog you don’t have to house break, feed or teach new tricks.  Not very cuddly perhaps but K9 has many other useful  qualities.


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Sometimes I wonder if the UK Tourist Board and the television industry are just one big conglomerate.  The photo below shows a location used in the most recent British drama sensation, Broadchurch.

West Bay Beach image credit travel.aol.co.uk


One look at the blue skies, towering cliffs and crystal waters of the Dorset coast and I knew this was a place I wanted to add to my UK itinerary…you know, that open-ended trek that I’ll be taking one of these days in the undetermined future?

The problem is I think most everyone who has seen Broadchurch probably feels the same way and is flocking to the West Dorset area in droves and as we speak.

It’s happened in other scenic villages of course.  Just down the road from Dorset in the Cornwall area, Doc Martin‘s Port Wenn aka Port Isaac has attracted visitors from around the globe.

There’s also a company called Avocatours that caters to fans of Ballykissangel – Avoca being the real name of the Irish town where the show was filmed.  Here are some of their customers lounging outside of Assumpta’s public house.

image credit Avocatours

image credit Avocatours

Fingers crossed West Bay, Bridport , Clevedon and all the Dorset environs will remain breathtaking, charming and relatively crowd-free.  I don’t want my expectations spoiled by tourists when I finally do get there. It’s hard to be optimistic, however, when you see signs like this already…

Found on the Bridport & West Bay Facebook page

Found on the Bridport & West Bay Facebook page

Have you ever been to a filming location turned tourist mecca?  If so, were you pleased or disappointed with the experience?

P.S. If you were expecting a post about the characters, story lines or performances found in the very excellent murder mystery Broadchurch, check in at Smitten by Britain in a few days.  I’ll be covering the actual show over there.  And remember BBC America begins broadcasting the series tonight at 10 pm.

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Before I begin with the actual subject of this post, I feel compelled to report that today my blog has reached an all-time high view count of 300.  On the face of it, this is undoubtedly great news especially since I have not been simultaneously inundated with a barrage of irritating spam comments.  But after doing this for over 2.5 years, I can’t help feeling a bit uneasy.  As my fellow WordPress bloggers know, we are given all sorts of statistics to show us which posts are being viewed, which keywords are being searched and also the country location of the computer that’s doing the viewing.

Is this the guy keeping track of the IP addresses?

So what I have deduced from these record-breaking stats is that one person in the UK and another in Australia have been sitting in front of their respective laptops for approximately twelve straight hours toggling between my home page and each individual post. First of all, have they got nothing better to do with their time?  Why do they keep returning to the home page and if they are so obviously enthralled, why haven’t they commented or subscribed to my blog?  I suspect something nefarious or, fingers crossed, it could be someone from the BBC who has been assigned to read my most excellent musings and offer me a full-time blogging job.  Oh, the swirling vortex of possibilities!

Wait, wrong kind of vortex. Or is it?

I’ll keep you posted.  Until then I am happy to present the long-awaited final installment of my lady killer series – that man who is aloof, elusive, or basically unattainable.  A challenge which makes them all the more desirable to a large proportion of women.

1. Sherlock (the Benedict Cumberbatch version)- Women and a number of men, for that matter,  are rather cruelly drawn to the brilliant detective who refuses to suffer fools or people who waste his time with unimportant details (like the fact that the Earth goes round the sun).  Only the mysterious Irene Adler (and some would insist, John Watson) has ever been able to hold his interest and shake him up a bit.   Sherlock has been described as “Aspergery” so it’s possible he really can’t help himself, but this series of clips shows he knows when he’s gone too far so it’s a good thing Molly Hooper didn’t let him off easy.

No matter, Sherlock has proclaimed himself married to his work so he will remain on the confirmed bachelor list; however you choose to define that term is up to you.

2. Doc Martin – is the type of man who gives a scolding lecture on obesity and heart disease at his aunt’s funeral.  Yet another who falls within the spectrum of desperately inadequate social skills, Martin Ellingham has had at least a few women show an interest in him.  Despite his distressingly large ears and a constant sour expression, the Doc has caught the eye of deluded pharmacist/stalker, Mrs. Tischell, rekindled a relationship with a similarly serious and ambitious colleague, Edith Montgomery in addition to the random female patients who’ve batted their eyelashes at him while passing through his doctor’s surgery.  But of course, pretty, dedicated school teacher, Louisa Glasson is Martin’s true love – just check out all the shipper videos on YouTube if you don’t believe me.

No one looks very cheerful here, do they?

However, if five seasons have taught us anything, Martin will continue to be rude and Louisa will continue to be frustrated and then he’ll do something remotely sweet and by the end of another season all will be well, or at least as good as you can get with a grumpy, self-righteous, dog-hater.  If I were Louisa, I’d consider finding another GP because even when she’s with Martin, she doesn’t really have him.

And finally as I alluded to earlier – the ultimate in the unattainable man, The Doctor.  I wanted to insert a photo there but which one would I use?  Not William Hartnell, that’s for sure.

I know, I know. I used this image rather recently, but I’m too tired to go looking for another.

But since the reboot of the Doctor Who franchise, physical attractions between the charismatic Time Lord and his companions have been on the rise.  Especially during the 10th Doctor years.

Those who know me are already aware of my deep dislike for Rose, so I won’t go into it too much here.  The Doctor, no matter how much he cares for his human companions, in the end, cannot have a romantic relationships with them.  He is very, very, very old and yet he will most likely outlive them all.  He is an alien with two hearts so who knows how anatomically different he might be in other ways.  It’s just not right.

And this is where my problem with Rose arises.  Because the Doctor did have a closer bond with her, she adopted this attitude that the rules didn’t apply to her and that somehow after all these eons, she’s the one person he couldn’t do without. Additionally, because of Rose, we had to suffer right along with Martha and her adolescent unrequited love drama.  It was a relief when Donna Noble came along and all she wanted was to be the Doctor’s really good friend, sort of like a big sister.

By the time the 11th regeneration took place, the Doctor seemed to genuinely want to rebuff Amy’s pre-wedding advances and has pretty much stuck with snogging his own kind.  Makes me wonder if all that kissing was written into David Tennant’s contract…

And that brings us to the end of our lady killer series.  I don’t think it’s a particularly British phenomenon, with the exception of the mad man in a blue box.  But in comparison with their American counterparts listed in this article, if push came to shove and I had to subject myself to inevitable heartbreak, I’d take my chances with the UK versions.  They do have the best accents after all.

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There are few things that elicit an Awww response more readily than a dad gently cradling his infant child.  Case in point:

Rory Williams meets his daughter Melody. Unfortunately this will be the only normal moment of their entire relationship.


In recognition of the beauty of father/baby bonding, I present to you three slightly unlikely tv dads and their bundles of joy:


1.  Father and son beach outing (Gavin and Stacey)


2.  Adam, the “ladykiller” (Cold Feet)


3. The challenges of fatherhood (Doc Martin)

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, even the ones who have a bit of trouble with the learning curve at the beginning;)

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The BAFTA awards for television (similar to our Emmy awards) were given out in London a couple of weeks ago and I’ve finally had the opportunity to study the list of winners.  Since I live in the US and don’t have access to the original broadcasts of these programs, I use it as a tool to plan my viewing for the coming year.  Creativity and perseverance are key to this exercise.

Let me take you through an example.  In the category of Situation Comedy, the nominees were Mrs. Brown’s BoysFresh MeatFriday Night Dinner and Rev.   I hadn’t seen any of these series yet, so I sat down at my laptop and opened five, yes, five tabs to accommodate the five essential sites – IMDb, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and my local library catalog.  I usually start with the Internet Movie Database to research the show – the premise, who’s in it, etc. in order to determine whether I can be bothered to investigate further.

If it sounds worthwhile, I move on to each of the other sites listed to see if the program is available to order or view.  I used to always look at the library catalog first as a matter of course. Sadly, I’ve been seduced by the idea of getting it fast instead of waiting for the physical dvd to arrive and watching it on my more luxurious television screen.  So many shows, so little time.  That is truly my motto.

In this case I was fairly lucky. Hulu has just begun to add episodes from series one of Rev.  It stars Tom Hollander and Olivia Colman as The Reverend Adam Smallbone and his wife Alex who have recently moved from a country parish to a struggling urban church in London.  Everyone seems to want something from the poor vicar – money, a school placement, surrender of his chapel, sex…that last one would be from his wife’s honey-do list. I’ve seen the first two episodes so far and have enjoyed it.  It’s an urban Vicar of Dibley minus the chocolate cravings and the big bosooms.

Rev. Smallbone with his committed, albeit sparse, congregation/staff.

I was able to find both Friday Night Dinner and Mrs. Brown’s Boys on YouTube.  After watching the first episodes of each series, it’s a draw.

I wasn’t very impressed with Mrs. Brown; however, I can see the more unique aspects that might attract viewers.  Irish widow, Mrs. Brown (played by Brendan O’Carroll) speaks directly to the audience, walks among the sets exposing the cameras and crew, and even makes reference to the fact that “she” is actually a “he”. It appears to be an homage/parody of classic British sitcoms, but the broad humor and glut of sexual innuendos aren’t really my cup of tea. That being said, my rule of thumb is to watch two or three episodes before making a judgement, especially since the first episode must carry the burden of setting up the circumstances and characters. Besides I haven’t even met all of Mrs. Brown’s boys yet.

Despite winning the sitcom BAFTA, this jury’s still out on Mrs. Brown.

On the other hand, Friday Night Dinner, seems to be a more promising program for me.  Starring Tamsin Greig and Simon Bird, this show centers around an empty nest couple and their two grown sons.  In the first episode at least, all the action plays out during a Friday night dinner gathering – the parents’ constant bickering, the boys’ sibling rivalry and childish pranking, and the creepy neighbor (Mark Heap) constantly hanging about. When it comes to settling into a new series, I find that being familiar with a number of the actors in the cast jump starts the whole process for me since I already have a reason to watch.

Friday Night Dysfunction might be a more apt title and that’s just fine by me.

Fresh Meat, a show about first year students at university sharing a house, was the only one I had no luck finding. So I will add it to my list of non-available titles and eventually it will show up somewhere.  I know there are other streaming websites out there , but I’m hesitant to venture into some of those more questionable URLs. It’s not about legality as much as a fear of contracting some virus, worm or spyware that will bring my already antiquated equipment to a literal standstill. In the meantime, there’s usually a stack of dvds and an ever-present queue of on-line material to watch.  And if there’s something I absolutely must see, my multi-region dvd player and Amazon.co.uk stand at the ready.

Other BAFTA nominees and winners on my future to-watch list are:

Appropriate Adult – winner of three acting awards in the drama category

Call the Midwife– to be shown this September on Masterpiece Theater with Miranda Hart (yea!) nominated for a dramatic supporting actress role.

Stella – a dramedy starring and co-written by Ruth Jones, another of those performers who makes everything they’re in worth watching.

Spy– a comedy starring comedy BAFTA winner, Darren Boyd and currently available on Hulu.

Admittedly, it is a convoluted system which may soon become even more intricate if I add BBC America to the arsenal.  Some might say it’s a sickness but this font of knowledge actually comes in handy at times. For example, the other day a library member asked me the name of the heavy-set character on Doctor Who with  a son who wants to to be an IT computer guy instead of  working with his father. I was able to answer without hesitation, “That’s  Bert Large, the plumber from Doc Martinwho by the way played Churchill on Doctor Who.  See how useful my addiction is?

Besides, if I do have Britishtellyitis, I don’t want to be cured as I’m convinced this condition will be responsible for making my fortune one day.

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I watched Cold Comfort Farm for the first time and while I never found out what nasty thing Ada Doom saw in the woodshed or what wrong had been done to Robert Poste, I enjoyed meeting all its eccentric inhabitants.  It also got me thinking about how British farmers are generally portrayed.  They’re usually not very interested in cleanliness and have an ever-present patina of mud on their faces.  They tend to be suspicious of strangers and seem to prefer the company of their livestock.  Their accents sound quite archaic, almost as though the world they inhabit has remained untouched by all modern influence.  The best comparison I can offer is that they resemble our simplified impressions of the rural Appalachian population of the US.

I’ve had a difficult time finding quick and efficient clips to demonstrate this type of lifestyle and character so I would recommend checking out The Vicar of Dibley where you will meet Owen Newitt, a lonely bachelor farmer whose only human contact is serving on the village council.  There’s also plenty of rural charm in All Creatures Great and Small where veterinarian James Harriot heals the livestock of many a Yorkshire farmer.  Period dramas often depict the struggles Mother Nature visits upon the hardworking field hand,  but most of today’s farms face monetary challenges as well.  On Clatterford aka Jam and Jerusalem, Tip and Colin Haddem try to keep their heads above water in the world of expensive modern farm equipment.  Doc Martin‘s Aunt Joan battles with a neighboring farmer whose use of pesticides threatens her organic farming license.  Even sheep farmer Eamon from Ballykissangel has to finagle the system to get by – even if it means stationing fake wooden sheep all over his land in hopes of increasing his farm subsidy.

So to all those farmers out there, in appreciation for what you do here’s some humorous agricultural advice from The Mitchell and Webb Situation:



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Boston Duck Tour - Amphibious transport

An unexpected benefit of a recent family vacation to Boston was that my experiences on that trip have made me a more informed commuter and therefore completely qualified to complete this series of posts.  During this vacation, I relied on just about every form of public transit possible from airplanes to the subway; commuter trains, buses and a duck.   Don’t get me wrong.  I felt good about what mass transit does to help the environment and the lessons I learned about bus and subway etiquette were very valuable.  The people-watching opportunities alone were worth the experience.   But by the time I got back home, I was looking forward to hopping into my trusty 1998 Toyota Camry and driving where I wanted, whenever the fancy struck me.  Americans love their cars and the freedom driving represents.  So what has television taught me about the British attitude towards automobiles?  Let’s look at a few examples:

Mr. Bean shows us that sitting inside your car is for the conventional and unimaginative driver.


Minder – Used car salesmen are slimy and suspect on either side of the pond.


Open All Hours – In the UK, a Morris Minor can double as a changing room.

From the reckless speed of tedious car chase scenes in The Sweeney and Minder (and later Life on Mars  featuring a 1974 Ford Cortina) to gingerly navigating narrow village lanes and the even more treacherous winding country roads of All Creatures Great and Small, Doc Martin and Ballykissangel, I don’t think the British are all that different when it comes to taking to the open road.  The biggest difference of course is that whole driving on the left side of the road business and maybe roundabouts…

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Doc Martin's Gremlin

I’ve heard it said that the British show more affection to their dogs and horses than to other people.  And while I know that’s not exactly true, I can relate.  I too am a big softy when it comes to animals.  Give me a dog to cuddle over a baby any day.  (Of course, my own children fall into an entirely different category).  If I’m watching a tv show or a movie, I’m more likely to sob if an animal is injured or dies than if harm comes to a human.  And don’t get me started on those desperately sad ASPCA commercials with Sarah McLachlan singing in the background.  In my house, everyone  knows to just turn the channel.

What I have found on British television is that most relationships with animals are of the utilitarian variety.   Farmers take good care of their sheep, cows, pigs, etc. because the livestock are their livelihood.  There is a sense of responsibility and respect for the animals, if not affection – unless you count Cranford‘s  Mrs. Forrester who dresses her cow in a long underwear type of garment and takes her on walks through town like a dog.  We observe this type of relationship through country vets like Siobhan Mehigan who serves the area around Ballykissangel.  You’ll likely find her on the road to local farms like Eamon Byrne’s to attend to his sheep – the real ones, not the plywood ones he uses to fool the authorities.  Then there’s the Yorkshire veterinary practice of the brothers Farnon and James Herriot from All Creatures Great and Small.  I’ve only watched a few episodes, but so far a litter of baby pigs, some sheep attacked by feral herding dogs, several sick cows and a pampered lapdog named Tricky Woo have been attended to by the capable Darrowby vets.  Alas, there is always an end to these human/animal affiliations whether it be due to accident, age or well…  harvesting of the end product.  You know it’s coming and though the farmers are matter of fact about the lives of their animals you can see appreciation and sometimes sadness as they make the decision to say goodbye.  I could never be a farmer, can you tell?

Then there are loyal canine friends like Wee Jock, Constable Hamish Macbeth‘s West Highland Terrier.  Beware there is a tragic storyline for Wee Jock, so if you are softhearted like me, prepare yourself.  James Herriot has Dan, the black lab, to accompany him on farm calls.  Then there’s Doc Martin.  He has a constant companion that he doesn’t want.  From the moment he shows up in Port Wenn, there is an adorable scraggly mutt at his doorstep who keeps coming back no matter how many times Martin shoos him away.  You keep hoping the Doc will soften and take this animal who is so attached to him into his heart…but as you get to know Martin Ellingham you realize it’s more complicated than that.  (The ironic thing is that Martin Clunes, the actor who plays the doc, is a renowned dog lover!)

So do Brits love their animals more than Americans do?  Probably not, but there is certainly an affinity for four-legged friends in the UK.  They are enjoyed and perhaps more often used for their intended purpose (herding, hunting, mousers, etc.) than in the US and that probably makes any animal happier. I guess that means I need to find a place where my dog Malcolm can actually take a real swim, and not just in the baby pool we bought for him.  He deserves to be all the lab he can be.

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