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Martin Clunes looked so different at the start of his career – take a look back

The Doc Martin star has appeared in plenty of shows over the years

Martin Clunes
Senior Features Writer
TV and film writer
15 April 2024
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Martin Clunes is back on our screens in the second series of his hit travel show, Islands of the Pacific, which follows the actor's epic journey across the Pacific Ocean, exploring incredible locations such as Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. 

But did you know the acting legend, who's known and loved for his starring role in the ITV drama Doc Martin, has been a regular fixture on our screens for over three decades? We've taken a look back at some of his earliest roles – and you won't believe how much he's changed…

Martin Clunes in Islands of the Pacific© Buffalo Pictures/ITV
Martin Clunes explores the Pacific in his travel series, Islands of the Pacific
Dee Sadler, Michael Sharvell-Martin, Stephen Watson, Marcia Warren, Beverley Adam, Daniel Hill, Patricia Garwood, William Gaunt and Martin Clunes, pictured on the set of BBC television show 'No Place Like Home' in 1985© Don Smith/Radio Times/Getty Images

Martin Clunes' early TV career

After studying at the prestigious performing arts school, ArtsEd, in London, Martin bagged his first TV role at the age of 22 in the sitcom No Place Like Home in 1983. He portrayed Nigel Crabtree for three years, starring alongside Patricia Garwood and William Gaunt. 

Here, Martin's pictured with his co-stars in 1985 looking particularly fresh-faced. After being spotted by fellow comedy actor Harry Enfield. Martin then began starring in his sketch shows, before the two went on to appear in Men Behaving Badly. 

Neil Morrissey and Martin Clunes in Men Behaving Badly© Fremantle Media/Shutterstock

Men Behaving Badly

In 1992, Martin first appeared as Gary Strang in Men Behaving Badly. He starred opposite Harry Enfield for the first series, before Neil Morrissey took over as his flatmate Tony Smart from series two.

The comedy was first broadcast on ITV before becoming a huge success and moving to BBC One. The show ran for six series and made a star out of Martin, winning him a BAFTA for Best Comedy Performance in 1996, before finishing in 1998.

MARTIN CLUNES as Doc Martin, CAROLINE CATZ as Louisa Ellongham and their children in Doc Martin© ITV

Doc Martin

In 2004, just three years after playing Gary in Men Behaving Badly, the actor was cast as the lead role in the ITV drama Doc Martin. Martin played the fiercely talented but cantankerous doctor, who at times finds himself at his wits' end due to his surgery staff and those in the local village.

The show ran for 18 years, coming to an end with its tenth season in 2022. Ahead of the show's final series, Martin revealed that creating 18 years' worth of storylines for a character "who doesn't like anyone" has been "tough" for his wife Philippa Braithwaite, who wrote and produced the show. 

"It's just a good time to end. Poor Philippa, she's worked on every single script, 84 of them and none of them are easy because you've got a main protagonist who doesn't like anybody and nobody likes him and go from there," explained the 62-year-old.

"It hasn't been easy, it's been tough. We don't want to repeat ourselves."

Martin Clunes in Manhunt© ITV


In 2019, Martin undertook the role of real-life London met detective Colin Sutton in ITV's crime drama Manhunt and reprised the role for series two at the end of 2021. 

While the first season focused on the real-life investigation into the death of French student Amélie Delagrange, the second instalment, titled Manhunt II: The Night Stalker, saw DCI Sutton track down a notorious serial rapist and burglar who had been attacking elderly women across south London from 1992 until 2009.

WATCH: Martin Clunes stars in ITV crime drama Manhunt