Dr. Martin Ellingham is a successful London surgeon who decides to relocate to the seaside village of Portwenn to practice medicine as a GP. His reasons for doing so are his own and even his aunt Joan, who lives locally, isn't quite sure what his motivation is. As Martin settles into the village he comes across the village characters: Bert Large and his son, who as general handymen take on fixing the plumbing in Martin's house; Colonel Gilbert Spencer who has a peculiar medical condition; and Louisa Glasson, the local school teacher who also happens to be the only member of the local medical advisory committee to argue against Martin's hiring in the first place. Martin's gruff demeanor and poor bedside manner brings him into conflict with several locals and he seriously considers packing it in.
Martin's first official day on the job may be his last when he orders all and sundry, who seem to think the surgery is a town meeting place, out on the street. Having reached the end of his tether, he also fires his receptionist Elaine, only to find that pretty well everyone in village now shuns him. His aunt Joan suggests he should be a little more understanding, but that is not exactly Martin's style. One patient who does remain is Roger Fenn who has a lump in his throat that Martin fears may be cancerous. In a quiet moment, Martin reveals to him the phobia that has caused him to give up surgery and become a GP.
With Elaine away with her boyfriend, Martin finds himself with a new receptionist in the form of her cousin, Pauline who arrives unannounced. He assists his aunt Joan by examining her friend, Muriel Steele. Her son, Danny Steele thinks she is displaying early signs of dementia and wants to put her in a home. Martin's initial examination reveals her to be perfectly normal but he must re-evaluate his diagnosis when she behaves oddly. Martin is also concerned when learns that Danny Steele and Louisa were once quite close and that they are apparently seeing each other again. Finally, he deals with the case of Eddie Rix who has a long history of injuries. He diagnoses any number of possible causes but the truth proves to be something completely unexpected.
Martin has to deal with PC Mark Mylow's sister Sandra, a naturopath who has returned to Portwenn selling her natural remedies. Martin's effort to have her consult before "prescribing" any of her concoctions falls on deaf ears. Martin also has to deal with a odd family where the father is a bit of a ruffian and his two adult sons are in fear of him. They obviously rely on their mother to calm the home situation, but Martin is concerned when he observes that she is kept locked in a room to which he is refused admission. Al Large and receptionist Pauline start dating and a chance remark on the colour of his eyes leads him to believe that Bert may not be his biological father. Aunt Joan helps Al deal with his doubts.
Martin has to deal with local radio host Caroline Bosman, who seems to be developing an dependence to alcohol and prescription drugs. Several people in the village are concerned about her well-being, but she refuses all help. Her problem may be more serious, however. Martin also has to help Mr. Cooke, who has a particular problem with bad odor. A new arrival in the village, Julie Mitchell, convinces local constable Mark Mylow to give her driving lessons.
When Helen Pratt dies at home, her husband Phil blames Martin. To make matters worse, the Pratts are aunt Joan's neighbors and in spite, he starts using pesticides near Joan's land thereby threatening her organic license, which is just now up for renewal. Pauline is thrilled to have been invited to join the Portwenn lifeboat squad but she uses the opportunity to flirt with the team captain in the hopes of making Al Large jealous. When he doesn't respond, she wonders if he's really interested. Mark Mylow and Julie Mitchell spend a pleasant afternoon together. Martin is asked to treat Tricia Soames, a teacher at the local school who has obsessive-compulsive disorder. Martin and Louisa make an effort to re-establish their friendship.
Martin's somewhat difficult parents come to visit from their home in Portugal. They have not spoken to one another for seven years and Martin finds his mother to be very withdrawn. His father, a retired surgeon, is somewhat dismissive of Martin's decision to become a small town doctor. Things come to a head when they all visit aunt Joan and the real reason for his father's visit comes to light. Martin also deals with Maureen Tacy who has been putting on weight despite attempts at dieting. Martin's conclusions are both surprising and delightful. Louisa's friend Danny has a serious attack while renovating his new home, but Martin comes to the rescue.
With Mark Mylow's wedding fast approaching, Martin is asked to be best man but he is at his abrupt best when he simply says no. Mark then enlist Al Large for the job telling that he doesn't have to organize a stag night as all Mark wants to do is go on an overnight camping trip in the woods. Things go from bad to worse when, after getting lost somewhere in the forest, Mark is bitten by a deadly snake. When Martin goes off to find him, he too gets lost.
Mark Mylow comes in for his medical check up and Martin is concerned at one particular aspect of his physiology. Combined with fiancée Julie's big news, this could mean some bumps in the road as far as their relationship is concerned. Danny asks Louisa something important but her ambivalence is compounded by the fact that he is also planning to return to London to undertake his dream architectural project. Martin and Louisa have a heart to heart talk and, in his cups, he tells her exactly how he feels. Martin takes pharmacist Mrs. Tishell to task for constantly wearing a neck brace pointing out that in most cases, it isn't required. When she removes it however, it becomes apparent that it is anything but a psychosomatic crutch.
Christmas special. The tranquility of Portwenn is disturbed when a group of birdwatchers descends on the village in search of a rare bird. Pauline announces that she wants to go to university, so Martin has to start looking for another receptionist. Louisa's father Terry arrives unannounced in Portwenn - could this have an effect on the relationship between Martin and Louisa?
Martin deals with the case of a young girl who has been acting out. When Louisa Glasson mentions Ritalin to the mother, Martin tries to point out that she is not qualified to give that kind of advice. A new police constable, Joe Penhale, arrives in Portwenn but seems to have a peculiar medical condition. Martin's aunt Joan has a car accident and Louisa faints while teaching a class. Pauline is bored with being a receptionist and desperately wants to give out medical advice so Martin has a proposal for her.
With Pauline away for a couple days, Martin gets a new receptionist, Poppy. Bert Large takes Martin's advice to change his lifestyle. Only his idea of a changed lifestyle is to give up being a handyman and open a restaurant. He doesn't quite have the hang of it, however and his stress level definitely doesn't go down. Louisa invites Martin for dinner but her plan falls apart when her new cooker doesn't work properly. When many of the villagers fall ill, Martin concludes that the problem is Bert's new restaurant, but the problem lies elsewhere.
Martin and Louisa are still trying to develop something of relationship, but their plan for dinner is again disrupted this time by Louisa's quirky new neighbors. Martin is particularly perturbed by their approach to child rearing especially when he learns that the child has been vandalizing cars. Martin also learns that in addition to being narcoleptic, Constable Joe Penhale is also agoraphobic. He feels he has no choice but to report him but aunt Joan reminds Martin that many individuals have phobias but are still able to work in their chosen profession.
Martin confirms to his aunt Joan that she suffers from osteoporosis. When she begins to have a relationship with someone much younger than herself, Martin has great difficulty accepting the fact, but she insists that she is having fun and has no intention of stopping. Carrie Wilson clearly has her sights set on Martin, much to Louisa's annoyance. PC Joe Penhale throws a party for himself. Al Large returns home after having been traveling for a while but it may not have been the holiday he makes it out to be.
Martin and Louisa almost succeed in having a disaster-free date when they attend a outdoor concert together. They kiss but Martin is at his awkward best and ruins the moment. When they arrive back in Portwenn, Louisa announces that there is no possible hope for them as a couple and tells Martin that she will no longer see him. When a visiting friend suffers a serious injury, Martin comes to the rescue and he and Louisa find themselves going in yet another direction. Pauline's addiction to gambling becomes apparent and she is in dire need of assistance.
The news of Martin and Louisa's engagement spreads throughout Portwenn quickly, courtesy of Dave the postman. The couple find that the only date open at the local church is three weeks away and there is much to do. Pauline really wants to be a bridesmaid. There's a sudden outbreak of a respiratory infection in the village. Martin treats a patient who recently received a knee replacement but is refusing to take antibiotics. She lives with her domineering sister a biochemist that, according to village gossip, was fired from her research job when she experimented on humans. Al Large has a look at the restaurant books and discovers several discrepancies.
Martin and Louisa's wedding day finally arrives but is everyone and everything ready? Several people ask Martin if he's really serious about this, planting a seed of doubt in his mind. Al and Bert Large are providing the catering but run into a major plumbing problem at the restaurant and have to make alternate arrangements. The florist is arrested for trying to steal a bicycle. Martin has an argument with the vicar over his drinking and then has to find a replacement when the man falls and breaks his leg. One of the bridesmaids, Isobel Brown, has a minor accident requiring Martin's attention but soon goes into labor. Can the couple survive all the disasters?.
Martin's fear of blood has not decreased and he almost gags when he has to remove a pencil from a schoolgirl's ear. For all this he is still interested in returning to surgery. Louisa has left town and a visit from ex-student colleague Edith, now a high flyer in private practice, helps sway him. However, when Joan's friend Barbara has an accident caused by Mrs. Tishell's husband Clive, who has gone deaf working on oil rigs, Edith wants to operate on her, but Martin overrules her, feeling, correctly, that Barbara can be treated at home. Edith comes to apologize and has not been in Martin's house for more than a few minutes when Louisa returns, extremely pregnant.
Louisa tells Martin she wants to be independent of him and moves into the pub. Tongues wag; Martin's admirer Sally Tishell is cold towards Louisa but Joan welcomes her with open arms and tells Martin to do his duty by her. Joan also offers Louisa accommodation as she has rented her house to new head Mr. Strain, who is acting VERY oddly, telling Martin that Louisa, who has gone back to the school as a teacher, wants his job. Joan takes Louisa for a scan - by Edith. Joan recalls Edith from the past and has never liked her. Strain has porphyria, hence his lunacy, and Martin slaps him and has him carted off after he has hit Louisa.
P.C. Joe Penhale's older brother Sam arrives and Martin employs him to paint the waiting room and surgery, but his lack of coordination leads the doctor to believe he is not well. Joe panics, believing the brothers have an hereditary disease but Sam's illness is actually caused by lead poisoning, as a result of his illegal side-line. Louisa gets nearer to renting a house in town, owned by an old hypochondriac whilst Martin is strangely touched when he sees her X-ray photo of the baby.
Mr. McLynn asks Martin to help him apply for a disabled sticker for his car, claiming that he has been in a wheelchair for just over a year but Martin finds out that it's more like seven years and when Mrs. McLynn bangs into Joan's truck, it becomes obvious which partner really needs the doctor's help. Martin falls out with the rest of the PTA when he disapproves of Louisa getting her old job back and becoming a single working mother, but he does kiss Edith after she has recommended a therapist for his haemophobia.
Martin lies about his haemophobia whilst interviewing for a surgeon's job in London, which he gets. Returning to Port Wenn by train, he sits next to Jim Selkirk, who drops down dead. Jim's widow visits the surgery, claiming Jim is telling her that she is ill. . .which she is, but not in the way she thinks. A grasping couple try to sue Joan when their brattish son falls sick after a visit to her farm but Martin proves their own lack of hygiene is the cause. A session with a very young therapist to cure the haemophobia is less successful however and Martin walks out on him.
New midwife Molly O'Brien arrives in Portwenn and instantly clashes with Martin over care of Louisa.Fortunately Louisa comes to see that Molly is exploiting the situation for her feminist views and that it is Martin who really has her interests at heart. Martin tells Joan he has got the London job and Joan stresses the importance of staying in touch with his child.He drives to Truro to clinch the appointment but is side-tracked when he has to attend to an emergency involving Bert's cook's husband but Edith comes to his house to confirm the news, and Louisa overhears her.
Annoyed that the reference Martin has given her terms her merely 'competent', Pauline works to rule. Chaos ensues. Joan starts a bed and breakfast, her first guest being Ted Nugent, a neighbour who has lost his farm. His breath smells vile and, after he collapses, Martin finds that it is due to his eating his hair in worry. Martin accompanies Edith to a conference where she is giving a speech. She has plans to spend the night with him but, after administering to the ills of the hotel staff, he returns to Portwenn instead.
It's Martin's last day in Portwenn and the surgery is packed. Edith turns up, expecting an apology from Martin for walking out on her but of course does not get one and Joan again rebukes him for distancing himself from his child. As he is about to leave, Tasha, a school-teacher friend of Louisa, collapses. She has been inhaling fumes from an illegal bio-fuel used by her cab driver husband Tommy. She is all right but Tommy, who is driving Louisa to hospital for the birth, also collapses at the wheel and crashes the car. Martin races to save him and to help deliver the baby. It's a boy, and the whole of Portwenn, who have been listening via Pauline's amplified mobile phone, cheer Martin and Louisa and their new offspring.
Martin drives Louisa and their baby son back to her house in Portwenn, where the locals bring them presents. Diana Dibbs, Martin's nervous replacement, has already arrived, with her husband Gavin as her receptionist but Martin is not impressed by her competence - especially as she seems to have numerous ailments herself. Then he learns that Joan has died, causing him to stay for a week for her funeral. During that time he finds himself having to see to all the patients that Diana has misdiagnosed in addition to saving her life when she collapses. It looks as if he is still Portwenn's doctor, whether he likes it or not.
Portwenn gathers to pay its last respects to Joan at a less than perfect funeral where the hearse is late, young pall-bearer Harry collapses, dropping the coffin and Joe Penhale's phone goes off. Martin's oration is also more of a health lecture. His parents do not show up but Joan's sister Ruth does, and is surprised to find Joan has left her the small-holding. With Al as her farm-hand and much relieved that her supposedly terminal illness was misdiagnosed, she decides to stay a while. Harry's condition worsens but Martin spots its cause as being his keep fit obsession though, with Pauline now moved to Bristol, chaos reigns at the surgery where Louisa and Martin are now living. Exhausted by motherhood Louisa gamely attempts to be Martin's receptionist but it is too much so she recommends yet another flaky local girl, Morwenna Newcross. Martin gets a call from London to say that a locum has been found for his new post there and he can stay in Cornwall until October.
Ruth is disturbed when reclusive neighbour Shirley Dunwich tells her that her surly young son Michael is trying to poison her, and, since Ruth has no liking for Michael, who stole her hub caps for his art installation, she believes her, informing Martin. Unfortunately this leads to a siege situation before Martin rectifies matters. Morwenna's eagerness to please does not endear her to Martin, who sacks her for drug-taking though he reinstates her after finding that she is taking her grandfather's Second World war pep pills in order to be efficient. Louisa hands in her notice as she decides to leave Portwenn for London with Martin and their still unnamed baby.
As the first annual Portwenn charity fun run leads to unfit casualties and a price war between Bert and publican Mark Bridge Louisa's feckless, long-absent mother Eleanor turns up at the surgery. Louisa is not overjoyed to see her but she proves to be a very useful baby-sitter - until it transpires that her soothing herbal infusion that she put in the baby's feed contains alcohol. However, Louisa, sensing that her mother meant well, goes behind Martin's back and asks her to stay around whilst Ruth takes Al on as her permanent farm manager.
Joe Penhale is shocked when his ex-wife Maggie, seemingly amnesiac and believing that they are still married, arrives in Portwenn. Not to upset her, he plays along but eventually has to seek Martin's advice. Martin also treats fisherman Paul Hale, an old flame of Eleanor, who has Addison's disease but Louisa is shocked to find her mother is still playing the field. Heavily in debt Bert Large falls in with the local loan shark but at least Louisa and Martin get round to naming the baby - James Henry.
As Maggie regains her memory and aims to leave Portwenn, a desperate Joe tries to impress her into staying by being assertive. Louisa returns to school where the children fall prey to a mystery illness which Martin links to dementing caretaker Mr. Coley, who has inhaled carbon monoxide fumes and cleaned the school floors with fertilizer. When the confused old man climbs onto the school roof Joe sees it as his chance to impress Maggie by rescuing him but humiliates himself by getting stuck and it is Martin who saves the day. However Louisa is annoyed to find that Martin has arranged a date for James's christening without telling her.
Al is shocked to hear that his father is in debt to loan shark Alistair Tonken and his menacing son Norman, and lends him the money Ruth gave him to buy a new fence. When the Tonkens demand interest, Bert plans a money-making Spanish evening suggested by Eleanor. But Eleanor not only annoys Louisa and Martin by farming their baby out to an irresponsible young girl, she also keels over with a hernia, requiring Martin to perform emergency surgery. Eccentric Mrs. Dingley, who runs a cat sanctuary, is also in debt to the Tonkens but Penhale proves himself to be an unexpected hero in getting the greedy pair to back off. Martin, meanwhile, is more perturbed than he lets on about Louisa's decision after their row to stay in Cornwall with James and not accompany him to London.
With Eleanor recovering from her operation and half the school down with the flu Martin agrees to baby-sit James for Louisa. When her husband seeks Martin's advice pharmacist Mrs. Tishell volunteers to mind the child but she has long nurtured a hidden love for Martin - even creating a shrine to him in her wardrobe - and now, after an excess of self-prescribed drugs, she totally flips and runs off with James, leaving a note for Martin to follow so they can elope together. In persuading her to return his son Martin declares his supposed love for her, which does the trick. In reality he is at last opening up about his true feeling for Louisa and, with James safely returned, announces that he will not be going to London after all.
Martin finally marries Louisa, with Joe Penhale as best man; though, neither party has a parent present, and Martin is irritated by the gate-crashers at the reception. The villagers club together for a night in an isolated, but luxurious, lodge for the honeymooners -- whose seclusion they enjoy -- though, Bert drives off with their day clothes and luggage. Following a chimney fire, the Ellinghams set out to find a phone; but, instead, run into gun-wielding recluse Bellamy, whose life Martin saves after an accident. Back in the village, Ruth is grateful to jack-of-all-trades Mike Pruddy, who helps her out with advice for baby James, after fixing her electrics following a power cut. However, the disheveled newlyweds still return to find everything in chaos.
With Louisa back at work, the Ellinghams hire nanny Mel; but, she keeps scratching; and, when Martin tells her she has an infection caused by obesity, she leaves. Fortunately, Mike Pruddy steps into the breach, impressing Martin and allowing him to take Louisa to the school play. Here, they meet chair of governors Dennis Dodd, and his younger wife Karen, and ask them to dinner. The dinner party is awkward, as Martin believes Dennis is drunk, and tells Louisa so when they have to tend to baby James, unaware that their guests can hear them on the baby monitor. Whilst Morwenna inherits a house and takes Al in as her lodger, Ruth is roped into doing a phone-in for local radio; and, takes a call from Joe Penhale, under an assumed name, worried that he has no friends. She advises him to be nice to everybody; so, he takes her at her word, reluctantly arresting Dennis, who has crashed his car. But, when Dennis later has a fall, Martin discovers that his slurred speech is due to his having Parkinson's Disease.
Bert welcomes old flame Jennifer Cardew, Sally Tishell's replacement as pharmacist, as his lodger; but, is less than pleased when pupil Becky Wead claims in the school magazine that she got food poisoning from his restaurant -- especially when it turns out that her stomach ache was actually caused by an ulcer. Whilst Mike continues to impress as an immaculate nanny, Louisa is slightly perturbed by his obsessive neatness. Meanwhile, Robert Campbell, an articulate drifter, is found unconscious on the beach, and proceeds to stalk Ruth, eventually getting into her house to declare his love for her. It turns out that he is a former patient of hers, a diabetic, who has developed an obsession with her. Between them, Ruth and Martin sedate him, but she seriously considers moving.
Following her stalker scare, Ruth moves into a new house, next door to cantankerous, asthmatic hoarder John Moysey, who matches Martin in rudeness. When Ruth's attic is flooded, Moysey is responsible; but, when he suffers from excessive nose-bleeds, Martin discovers that his unhealthy life-style has given him scurvy. Martin grudgingly takes James to a play-group, where his brusqueness does not go down well with the other mothers; though, he does diagnose another baby's eye problem. Bert suspects Jennifer is on drugs when her Botox goes wrong, and Morwenna agrees to help a lonely Al find a girlfriend online.
Sally Tishell returns to Port Wenn, apparently cured of her obsession with Martin; though, she is hostile to Jennifer, whom she sees as a professional rival, and put out that Martin refuses to declare her fit enough to work on her own. Joe Penhale takes part in a survival course in the wilds where he ends up literally shooting himself in the foot; whilst, Morwenna and Al find that they have unwittingly corresponded with each other on a dating website, causing Al to move out and lodge with Joe. Martin attends to beach-comber Lorna, whose mystery illness turns out to be too much iron in the blood.
After vying with Jennifer for customer attention, Sally learns that she is finally allowed to practice alone and resume her old job, so she is keen to see off her rival. Jennifer plans to leave Port Wenn, but a marriage proposal from Bert changes her mind. Hypochondriac Malcolm Rayner complains of a cough, which leads Martin, given that Malcolm was a builder, to consider his possible exposure to asbestos and to order X-rays of his lungs. Malcolm, believing he is dying, gets drunk and arrested by Joe, who panics, posting asbestos warnings around the village. When he impales himself on his staple gun, Martin rescues him, but his blood phobia makes him vomit. A bigger blow for the doctor is the arrival of his mother, Margaret, who coldly informs him that his father has died. Nor is she very good with baby James, though she seems anxious to make amends. Martin is wary.
Ruth bumps into Margaret and berates her for being an unloving mother to Martin; but, even Margaret, like Louisa, is concerned that Martin seems withdrawn and unwell. He attends the school prize giving, but his curt manner ends with him stomping off, and Louisa, running after him, is hit by a car and hospitalized. Visiting her, Martin is concerned that she may have an embolism, but is shocked when she announces she wants to take James for a break with her mother Eleanor in Spain. Military policemen visit Port Wenn, looking for Mike, an Army deserter. He is prepared for a life on the run, but Martin persuades him that things will go better for him if he gives himself up.
Martin watches sadly as Louisa and their baby get in a taxi on their way to Spain, after which he seeks advice from Ruth. She believes his emotional detachment and fear of blood both stem from his loveless upbringing, and advises him to go after Louisa. He confronts his mother, who has come to stay purely because she is penniless after her bereavement. Discovering that Louisa has a condition that could be fatal if in flight, he gets Penhale to rush him to the airport. Meanwhile, Ruth and Al consider a partnership in a Bed and Breakfast venture, whilst the wedding reception of Bert and Jennifer is a disaster.
Louisa has gone for a break to visit her mother in Spain and to have some time to think. Martin is faced with the questions: will Louisa come back to him; and what can he do to make sure that she does?
Following another disaster at his restaurant Bert takes drastic action and disappears, leading Al to contact P.C. Penhale, though he is more interested in courting Louisa's baby-sitter Janice. Martin turns down a request by local radio presenter Melanie to do an interview on healthy eating whilst Louisa is less than impressed by Rachel Timoney's suggestion of a couples interview. However after hearing Martin inadvertently save a life on live radio she could change her mind.
After Rachel advises her to take more control Louisa prevents Martin from killing the stray dog that follows him everywhere and takes it to vet Angela Sim at her rescue centre. As Angela's father was Martin's predecessor the pair do not see eye to eye, especially as Angela suggests the dog follows Martin as it recognizes he is lonely, though this proves to be true after Martin has helped Angela through a medical crisis. Elsewhere Ruth is impressed by Bert's home made whiskey and Penhale stages a barbecue to get closer to Janice.
Though the therapy sessions are progressing well Martin is annoyed when Louisa's old flame Danny returns to the area, leading a group of city kids on a camping holiday, particularly as Danny seems intent on interfering in the marriage. However, when the most obnoxious child in the party falls ill, it is predictably Martin, not Danny, who saves the day. There are further calamities when Clive Tishell, intent on getting his marriage to Sally back on track, self-medicates with a virility treatment and the entertainer at the Ellinghams' baby's birthday party turns out to be contagious.
New art teacher Erica perturbs Louisa with her unorthodox methods and Martin - when she moves in next door to him - though Martin establishes that her fainting fits may play a part in her odd behaviour. Dr Timoney also becomes a patient when she collapses at the wheel of her car and begins to act strangely whilst an American tourist and devoted elderly wife also give Martin problems. Bert returns to being a handyman after his failed whiskey-making venture and Penhale's offer of a career move to Exeter is much affected by his growing relationship with Janice.
Louisa and Martin decide to make a go of it, starting with a conciliatory dinner but Louisa is concerned when Martin fails to show up. In fact he has been taken prisoner by elderly Annie Winton, who wants him to save her terminally ill husband Jim, despite Jim's more stoical attitude. Louisa and Joe Penhale track him down and the outcome provides a solution to the Ellinghams' marriage problems. There is good news too for Al, as not only have Ruth and Bert decided to go into business to market Bert's whiskey to promote Al's B & B but he also gets a date with receptionist Morwenna.
New curate Rosie Edwards arrives to marry Joe Penhale to baby sitter Janice Bone and Martin immediately recognizes that she has a potential pulmonary embolism. At the pre-wedding party Bert sees the chance to unload his unsold whisky but it depletes the wedding guests and Ruth is unhappy about her investment. Come the big day Rosie's condition, Janice's cold feet and Joe's kidney stone jeopardize the happy event whilst an over-worked Louisa is frustrated that baby James speaks his first word to everybody except her .
Martin suspects pub landlord and reformed alcoholic Ken Hollister is drinking again when he exhibits signs of liver failure but when Ken falls downstairs into his rat-infested cellar Martin discovers the true cause of his illness. Ruth considers selling her farm but gets a shock when John Rahmanzai arrives in Portwenn to scatter his father's ashes since the father was once Ruth's lover though, to save his father's reputation, she lies about their parting. Finally Louisa works out the reason for one of her pupil's health problems, leading her to consider a career in child therapy. Martin is not impressed.
Martin is not happy to discover that Louisa has been accepted for a child therapy course but eventually relents though he is kept busy when sailing instructor Amy Vincent passes out after taking an excess of tonic for hair loss and Clive Tishell drops down dead from over exercising, leaving Ruth concerned at Sally's lack of emotion for her loss. Things start to improve for the Larges when Bert gets work and a home with shop-keeper Caitlin Morgan and Al begins a successful tenancy as the new pub landlord.
James is teething and nothing seems to be working, so Martin and Louisa try Mel's suggestion of amber beads. Mrs Tishell seems to be having a delayed onset of mourning. Al receives a Large whiskey order, but when he tries to put the still together he has to ask Bert for help. Louisa has problems at school with Toby, who is Angela Sim's nephew.
Penhale decides to have a police open house to raise community awareness, but the turnout is not what he hoped for. James goes through a biting phase, and Morwenna leaves the surgery for a weekend away with Al.
Portwenn takes on Port Cattan in the annual rowing contest but when rival skipper Alice Taylor's cut head brings on Martin's haemophobia, causing him to faint, the whole village gets to know. Martin is also concerned that Graham Hendy, husband of crèche owner Mel, exhibits signs of alcoholism when he claims to be tee-total but discovers the reason when Graham crashes his car during Louisa's farewell speech as headmistress. The race goes ahead with Portwenn showing considerable sportsmanship but on return to the surgery Martin receives bad news.
American tourist Beth Traywick returns to the village and flatters Mrs Tishell into helping her trace her family tree but arouses her jealousy when she suggests Martin moves to America. Martin is still suspended from work after Amy's accusation, awaiting his hearing but his representative Chris and Beth both need his help and, whilst his abrupt manner at the hearing does not go well for him, he is thrown a bizarre life-line by Penhale.