My wife and I have just spent the last few months watching every episode of "Doc Martin" a British TV series about a Doctor (not that other Doctor) who relocates from a job as a top surgeon in London to general practitioner in Portwenn, a tiny fictional village in Cornwall.
It's mostly a comedy series but it has some drama and romance elements as well. The reason I'm reviewing it here however is because Doc Martin's character is, I believe, intended to "have Aspergers Syndrome" and for neurotypical adults this gives you a good glimpse into both sides of an AS/NT relationship.
Nobody does situation comedy for Television better than the British and Doc Martin doesn't disappoint in this area. Although it is very funny, it's actually in the development of Doc Martin's relationship that the show really excels. Each story is relatively self-contained but it is strongly recommended that you watch the series in the correct order to get a good sense of this development.
The words "Aspergers Syndrome" so far have only made a single appearance in the show when a psychologist tells Doc Martin that he has it - shortly before being unceremoniously bundled out the door but there's no doubt that the writers intended it to be a talking point. Remember that there's no litmus paper test for Aspergers Syndrome and someone may display many of the symptoms without actually having it.
In Doc Martin's case, who but the scriptwriter really knows?
I will however point out a few things I've noted;
- Doc Martin certainly feels emotions and empathy but usually doesn't show them in the way you'd expect. Some close people however are able to read them some of the time.
- It's clear that he has an unusual gait (walk).
- He has significant difficulty in conversations and minimal ability to small-talk. He does prove that he can "act normal" though but it's obviously an act.
- He has two obsessions, medicine and clocks - I'm aware that you'd expect a good doctor to be interested in medicine but Doc Martin takes things a little too far at times (Series 5).
- He's obviously quite confused at times as to why his remarks hurt other people.
- He's clearly completely unaware of some of the signals that others are giving off (pharmacist).
If we were using the DSM IV-TR diagnostic criteria on Doc Martin, he'd arguably flag the following;
(skip past this bit if you find it dull)
Failure to share interests, enjoyment or achievements with others.
Lack of social or emotional reciprocity.
Preoccupation with one or more narrow interests which are abnormal in intensity or focus.
C.The disturbance causes clinically significant problems in social, occupational or other areas of function.
D. There is no clinically significant delay with language milestones.
E. There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development
F. The disorder does not meet the criteria for any other Pervasive Developmental Disorder or for Schizophrenia
But I'm not here to say whether or not he's an aspie.
It's a great show and my wife and I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of watching him and his situations. Our discussions during and after the show have been quite good too because sometimes it's easy to see what a particular character should have done when a communications problem occurs. It's very educational for people in mixed AS/NT relationships.
Doc Martin Series 1-4 is currently available at Amazon (and it's on special). Series 5 is currently airing around the world and there's currently a campaign going around to get Series 6 filmed.
Doc Martin was recommended by my parents and I watched it purely on their advice. I was not given any review materials but sought the show out on my own.