"Doc Martin," starring Caroline Catz and Martin Clunes, is wrapping up its 10-season run. Photo courtesy of ITV
NEW YORK, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Caroline Catz says her beloved British dramedy, Doc Martin, has lasted as long as it has because it always leaves people wanting more instead of wearing out its welcome.
"We've always had these lovely gaps, so we've done other work in between and nobody's ever tired of it. It was just a really lovely collaborative environment in a beautiful place with great characters. Why wouldn't you want to keep returning?" the actress said in a recent phone interview with UPI.
"We started back in 2004 and we thought: 'Oh, we'll do one series. If we're lucky, maybe we'll do two.' That really was the plan at that point. I don't think any of us imagined that it would be the success it has been."
The penultimate episode of the ITV show's 10th and final season premieres Monday on American streaming service, Acorn TV. It will be followed by the retrospective documentary, Doc Martin: A Celebration, on Dec. 26, and a final Christmas special will air Dec. 31.
Co-starring Ian McNeice, Eileen Atkins, Joe Absolom and Jessica Ransom, the show is set in the fictional seaside village of Portwenn. It follows the lives of Martin Ellingham (Martin Clunes), a brilliant, but irritable physician with a blood phobia; his wife, optimistic, personable educator Louisa (Catz); and their various quirky neighbors.
"The role means so much to me. It's been an incredible journey," Catz said of playing Louisa. "It's been a really, really unique job. There will never be another like it."
The series allowed the actress the rare opportunity to play a character who grows and evolves over the course of nearly two decades. The story begins with Louisa deciding to restart her life back in Cornwall after teacher training.
"She comes back to Portwenn, which is her hometown, on the same plane as this grumpy doctor who is on this [job] placement because he is in the middle of a crisis and trying to find a way to cope with his blood phobia," Catz recalled.
"They do not get on at all," she added. "You can imagine nothing good would ever come from it , and then somehow, through these sort of jarring encounters over the years, they slowly fall in love with each other and have this very mismatched but passionate relationship."
By Season 10, the couple is married and living together with their two young children.
Catz credited the writers for giving Louisa and Martin a challenging, but rewarding, romance that many viewers seem to find realistic and relatable.
"It's a real testament to the attraction that they have for one another and the respect they have for one another that, in the end, they negotiate that they are never going to be able to change one another," she said.
"There is something really romantic about that and, at the same time, really difficult and very true to life. No relationship is perfect, but this is something so bittersweet. They are really in love, but they drive each other mad. I think that is the story of a lot of marriages out there."
The final season sees Martin adapting to life as a stay-at-home father, having given up his career as a doctor and relinquishing his office to Louisa's child counseling practice.
"Martin really is not a happy person because he is without a job, Although he's great as a dad and looking after the kids, you can see he is struggling and wants to go back to medicine, but he just doesn't know how," Catz said.
"Louisa helps and nudges him in the right direction. Suddenly, they end up in a situation where they are both running their practices out of the surgery, which, obviously, provides many hilarious and difficult encounters."
The actress didn't give away spoilers about how the show ultimately wraps, but she described it as "deeply, deeply sad and very, very beautiful."
"Hopefully, it will be a satisfying ending for everybody," she said.
Catz said she expects that she and Clunes will remain in touch, even though their longtime screen partnership is done.
"We've worked together, watched [each other's] kids grow up, spent hours and hours chatting and staring into each other's faces as we worked stuff out," she laughed.
"We'll always have that and he does really make me laugh and we have a really good time together. He's a good friend."