Dr Martin Ellingham (Martin Clunes), a brilliant and successful vascular surgeon at Imperial College London, develops haemophobia – a fear of blood, forcing him to stop practising surgery. He obtains a post as the sole general practitioner (GP) in the sleepy Cornish village of Portwenn, where he had spent childhood holidays with his Aunt Joan (Stephanie Cole), who owns a local farm. Upon arriving in Portwenn – where, to his frustration, the locals address him as “Doc Martin” – he finds the surgery in chaos and inherits an incompetent receptionist, Elaine Denham (Lucy Punch). In series 2–4, she is replaced by Pauline Lamb (Katherine Parkinson), a new receptionist, and later also a phlebotomist. In Series 5, Morwenna Newcross (Jessica Ransom) takes up the post.
On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches. The following year, he and the SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War. He alienated many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”. J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI’s COINTELPRO from 1963 on. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, recorded his extramarital liaisons and reported on them to government officials, and on one occasion mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.