This Christmas, one of ITV’s most popular shows, Doc Martin, comes to an end after an amazing 18-year run. During that time, the show’s regular line-up has remained remarkably intact, but within its guest cast, it’s attracted some surprisingly starry names over the course of its 10 series.
Here then are some of the big-time actors who have visited Portwenn over the years…
Sigourney Weaver - Facta Non Verba, 2015, and All My Trials, 2017
Certainly the starriest name to visit Portwenn during Doc Martin’s 18 years on TV, Sigourney Weaver played an American tourist, Beth Traywick, who butts heads with Martin in two episodes over series’ seven and eight.
The Aliens actor was persuaded to take the role by her bessie mate Selina Cadell, who plays Mrs Tishell in the series. The two met in London in 1974, and have stayed friends ever since.
Chris O’Dowd - On The Edge, 2006
These days we know Chris O’Dowd as much for his serious work as his comic turns. But in 2006, this Christmas special gave the IT Crowd actor one of his earliest dramatic roles as a friend of Louisa’s disgraced father, Terry. In the episode, O’Dowd’s character begins to hallucinate after he stops taking his meds, taking Martin, Louisa and Pauline (played by his It Crowd co-star Katherine Parkinson) prisoner, and demanding that Al pick up a shipment of explosives.
Daisy May Cooper - Remember Me, 2011
The This Country and Am I Being Unreasonable? co-writer and star nabbed her first TV credit on this fifth season episode. Cast as a young mum, her character only appears in one scene, cradling her baby who she’s taken to the surgery for a vaccination. “Aw, he’s a cute one, what’s his name?” asks Morwenna. “Boris,” answers Cooper’s character, to guffaws from the Doc’s newly-hired receptionist.
Claire Bloom - five episodes 2005-2022
The actor, who got her big break in one of Charlie Chaplin’s final films (that’s 1952’s Limelight), first appeared as Martin’s equally cantankerous mother Margaret in the season two episode, The Family Way. The now 91-year-old has returned a number of times since, and is down to reprise her role in this month’s final episode, Last Christmas In Portwenn.
Andrea Riseborough - The Family Way, 2005
Before she starred as Margaret Thatcher in the TV film The Long Walk to Finchley, Andrea Andrea Riseborough turned up in Doc Martin as a sullen teenager who visits Dr Ellingham about a mole on her tummy. When she gets a blast of Martin’s famously filthy temper she tells him, “You seriously need to chill!” Since her appearance in Doc Martin, Riseborough has popped up in such movies as Roald Dahl's Matilda: The Musical, Birdman and The Rise Of Stalin and headlined the Black Mirror episode Crocodile.
Art Malik - Sons And Lovers, 2017
The Pakistani-born star of movies such as The Living Daylights (1987), True Lies (1994) and Sex And The City 2 (2010), guested in this eighth series episode as John Rahmanzai, a man who visits Portwenn to scatter his late father’s ashes. He later suffers an asthma attack and is saved by Martin.
Amanda Abbington - Happily Ever After, 2007
Sherlock’s Mary Watson played Louisa's pregnant bridesmaid Isobel in this episode from 2007 that saw Martin and Louisa decide, at the last minute, not to tie the knot.
Read more: Doc Martin fans devastated as drama ends
Sadly for Isobel, the day itself is an unfortunate as it is for Louisa after she’s hit in the eye with a party popper.
Ben Miller - The Portwenn Effect, 2004, Out Of The Woods, 2005, How Long Has This Been Going On?, 2022
The Miller half of Armstrong & Miller (and, lest we forget, the original star of Death In Paradise) first appeared as Park Ranger Stewart James in the very first season, where it transpired he was suffering from hallucinations and had befriended a six-foot squirrel named Anthony. James returned in season two and then again in the most recent series, where he takes Al and Penhale on a calamitous survival course.
Miriam Margolyes - Born With A Shotgun, 2011
She’s such a ubiquitous presence on TV as herself, often turning the air blue with her gleefully potty mouth, that it’s easy to forget sometimes what a fantastic actor Miriam Margolyes is.
In this season five episode, Margolyes plays a woman suffering from abdominal pains, believing that her son (Andrew-Lee Potts) is trying to poison her. After the Doc finds arsenic in her blood, it transpires that it’s coming from the old wallpaper in her home.
Danny Huston - Wild West Country, 2019
Danny Huston, son of Maltese Falcon director John Huston and brother of Oscar-winning Prizzi's Honor star Anjelica Huston, was unlikely casting as a visiting camper who’s shot in the leg by a farmer after trying to steal some eggs. Worth catching, if only to hear the Yellowstone star’s rather dodgy English accent.
The Doc Martin Christmas special will air on Christmas Day at 9:05pm on ITV1.
Watch: Doc Martin cast completes final scenes