Doc Martin

Recap for 'Doc Martin,' Episode 31: 'Preserve the Romance'

This episode will be streaming online for three weeks from November 6 to 27. Catch episodes of "Doc Martin" that aren't currently streaming via our recaps here.

Previously on "Doc Martin"

During his last day in Portwenn before returning to London, Martin is sidetracked by a medical emergency involving used chip oil as well as the culmination of Louisa's pregnancy.

(Read the full episode recap of "The Wrong Goodbye" here.)

This week's episode: "Preserve the Romance"
Written by: Ben Bolt
Directed by: Ben Bolt

This was supposed to be Martin Ellingham's (Martin Clunes) last day in Portwenn, but then that whole Louisa-gave-birth-to-a-baby-boy situation got in the way. Having recovered within hours from the delivery, Louisa (Caroline Catz) is given permission to return from the hospital back to Portwenn. Martin offers her a ride back into town, but first they must avoid the gaggle of Portwennians who traveled to the hospital in a giant caravan of cars. They make it to their car without any trouble, with only PC Joe Penhale (John Marquez) able to catch up and offer his congratulations. On the road back, they discuss what to name the child, as well as what to do now that Martin will soon be on his way to London.

Now settled at Louisa's place, Martin cannot help but argue about her childrearing techniques, such as crib vs. bed and whether Louisa should let the baby cry out. What Martin thinks doesn't really matter, so long as he keeps the townspeople away from a still very tired new mother. Louisa isn't back to work for another six weeks, so Martin may have some tough decisions to make now that he's a father.

The next day, Penhale jogs through the village and runs by the surgery and sees the new GP moving in. This is Dr. Diana "Di" Dibbs (Joanna Scanlan) and her husband Gavin (Robert Daws), who will act as her practice manager. Di seems to suffer from a number of ailments obvious even to a layman like Penhale, including obesity, diabetes, and terrible acne.

It's not long before Martin meets Dr. Di in line at the Chemist, him buying baby supplies, her buying acne cream. Looking at her marked face, he tells her that her acne is beyond topical treatment and suggests a steroid. Surely she, a doctor, must have known that. As Martin exits the Chemist, asthmatic fisherman Mike Chubb (Anthony O'Donnell) falls off a ladder, so Martin takes it upon himself to examine the man, despite no longer being Portwenn's GP. Finding that not much is wrong other than a frontal parietal impact with a superficial laceration, he places a diaper on Mike's head, says to put pressure on it, and hands the patient over to Dr. Di, who treats the man with a lighter, friendlier touch. As Martin walks away, Penhale catches up with him, handing him the medical supplies he forgot, then tries to ask his advice about a certain private medical matter. But Martin has no time for Penhale and, naturally, walks off grumpily.

Finding that Penhale brought him the wrong bag of supplies from the ladder mishap, Martin goes to the surgery to switch with Dr. Di, who has his. There, he learns what nobody else has seemed to notice, that Pauline is no longer the receptionist there. She has been let go, Gavin says, as he will be taking over all of her responsibilities. Too bad, as Pauline's goofy charms seemed to ease the patients of Portwenn.

At Louisa's place, Martin makes his goodbyes with Bert (Ian McNeice), who has loaned them his son's old pram, and turns to talk to Louisa and express his concerns about the new doctor when Penhale shows up at the door with some terrible news. On her way to the hospital to see her new great-nephew, Auntie Joan had a heart attack behind the wheel and died, alone, in her truck. Since Martin is her closest relative, he needs to make a trip down to the mortuary to identify the body. Every day a little death, it seems.

At the surgery, Mike Chubb comes in for a follow-up examination, and he makes mention of his blood pressure. He's not happy with the perindopril he's been given as it gives him "a tickly cough," so Dr. Di decides to switch up his medication. He informs her that the Chemist isn't open on Wednesday afternoons and he'd hate to wait for his new prescription, so Dr. Di has mercy on him and hands him some of her own medication, straight out of her purse. She'll give him the prescription tomorrow.

With Martin concerned about Louisa's wellbeing, including a very embarrassing focus on the tenderness of her perineum (read: taint/gooch), they stop by the surgery. Martin's concerns increase exponentially when he learns that Dr. Di, probably around 50 years old, only finished training a month earlier. (She claims she's bad at testing.) Once a nurse, it was Gavin who convinced her to be a doctor, and while that took a few years to accomplish, he's proud of his wife. But Martin, always able to sniff out an illness, begins to think that Dr. Di may be misdiagnosing her own illnesses. He offers to examine her, but Dr. Di refuses. "Your funeral," he says, exiting with his ex-girlfriend and their child. Pondering his suggestion that she may be overmedicating, Dr. Di tosses one of her medications into the trash.

With Martin now staying in Portwenn for another week to deal with Joan's funeral, Penhale takes this as an excuse to approach the good doctor once again with his ailment. He tried to see Dr. Di, he explains, but he's uncomfortable with a female doctor looking...down there. Finally able to lure Martin into one of the beach's public bathrooms, Penhale drops his pants and asks once again for medical help. He's found a lump in his testes, and he's worried it's the Big C. Martin glumly feels around and informs him it's a cyst, but not before another man comes into the bathroom and sees one man fondling another in a public space.

Returning to the Chemist, Martin spies Mrs. Bollard (Christabel Muir) in line. Looking over what Dr. Di prescribed her, he becomes enraged; she cannot take this medication for her ankles until she curbs her alcoholism, otherwise she could lose her liver. Going down along the line, he discovers that every single person has been misdiagnosed. But that will have to wait, as Mike Chubb arrives and passes out. Looking for his inhaler in his pocket, Martin finds the pills Dr. Di gave him, which can be lethal to asthmatics. This must end.

At the surgery, Dr. Di has become overwhelmed by the number of patients and is starting to look her composure. Unfortunately, whatever pills she takes to calm her nerves have been emptied from the trash. Just then, Martin storms into the waiting room demanding to have a word with the new GP. As Gavin tries to stave him off, Dr. Di wedges a chair into the door handle and escapes out the back window. Seeing her escape through the keyhole, Martin catches up and chases after Dr. Di, who seems to be on the verse of collapse, which she finally does right in front of the surgery and in front of passers-by.

With a crowd forming, Martin once again asks her and Gavin how much medication she's taking. Gavin sounds off at least 11, listing each ailment she's treating. A lightbulb goes off, and Martin raises her shirt to find terrible marks on her belly. These aren't stretch marks, despite what Dr. Di and Gavin thought. This is Cushing's Syndrome, which "presents multiple diseases when it fact it's only one. Excess cortisone. It can be fatal. A proper doctor would have spotted it." Needing surgery immediately, Martin loads her onto the ambulance and watches it take Portwenn's newest GP out of town.

But there are still patients waiting to be examined. Louisa, having just arrived, understands what he must do, and tells her that she'll feed the child while he's busy. Reentering his surgery, Martin calls for his next patient and gets back to work.

Hey! I Know That Actor!

Joanna Scanlan, who played the ailing new GP Dr. Diana "Di" Dibbs, is a television actress and writer best known for her roles as Terri Coverley on "The Thick of It," Sister Den Flixter on "Getting On," Stumpy Yates on "Doctors and Nurses," and Lady Crawley in "Vanity Fair." On film, she has appeared in "In the Loop," "Stardust," "Notes on a Scandal," and "Girl with a Pearl Earring."

Robert Daws, who played Dr. Di's husband Gavin, appeared as Dr. Gordon Ormerod on "The Royal," Simon Eastman on "Casualty," Rod on "Office Gossip," Roger Dervish on "Outside Edge," and Tuppy Glossop on "Jeeves and Wooster."

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About the Author

Marcus Gorman is a pop culture writer and the author of the novel triceratops.
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