THE fifth floor of ITV’s Gray’s Inn Road HQ in central London has a lofty view of the local Royal Mail sorting office.
I reckon it’ll soon be busy with letters of praise for the performance of Martin Clunes in a bittersweet new drama called Losing It.
Earlier this week I caught the lift to the fifth floor – venue for ITV board meetings – to talk to Martin about his latest project, and why he thinks the sitcom might be dead.
The first TV feature about the drama is in today’s MEN. You can also read it online here.
Doc Martin star Martin plays Phil, an advertising copywriter on the wrong side of 40 who fears for his job. Then he discovers he has testicular cancer.
Don’t let the C word put you off. As Martin, 44, says: “The drama is not maudlin or gloomy. It is filled with hope and light.”
At one time it seemed Clunes would never shake off the role of lager-swilling Gary in BBC1 sitcom Men Behaving Badly. Every year, with one eye on an easy headline, he’d be asked about a possible return. And every year he’d give a polite answer, as if he’d never heard the question before.
Series like Doc Martin and William and Mary have displayed his acting talents in other directions – and after watching Losing It, you’d be hard pressed to imagine another actor taking the lead role.
One newspaper today – under the headline “I Don’t Want To Be Funny Again” – tells its readers: “Why Men Behaving Badly star Martin Clunes is turning his back on comedy.”
That’s not quite true. When he was asked at the press launch for Losing It if he would ever return to work on a sitcom, Martin replied: “I don’t know. I’ve done a fair bit of that and maybe don’t want to do it again.
“But it’s a really fun way of working. I’m not sure. There was a programme I watched about ‘the sitcom’s dead’, and they actually put up a really good argument for its death. So I don’t know. Maybe it’s best to leave my sitcom experience where it is.
“I have to say, I’ve been watching the repeats of Men Behaving Badly. And with this amount of distance, I’ve been laughing like a git, which I shouldn’t own up to, really. But I don’t remember what anyone’s going to say next. I remember that bad jumper, but that’s about it. And it is pretty funny.”
There’ll be more about Losing It in the MEN – and online – next month, when it’s due to be screened on ITV1.
Martin took the role because of the script, not because of his involvement in cancer charities. But there’s no harm in mentioning that he is an ambassador for Macmillan Cancer Support and is again fronting the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning on September 29. It’s the charity’s largest national fundraising event, which raised £6.5m last year.
The former man behaving badly is also a supporter of Cancer Research UK, which provided expert advice in the making of Losing It.