Clunes steps way out of his comfort zone; Actor plays Sherlock author Conan Doyle.
ALEGENDARY crime author tackles a reallife mystery in a new three-part adaptation of a Julian Barnes's novel.
Arthur & George is based on genuine events in the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Martin Clunes plays the celebrated novelist and physician who created iconic detective Sherlock Holmes, as the writer recaptures his lust for life by pursuing and challenging a notorious miscarriage of justice.
At the centre of the drama is George Edalji, a hard-working solicitor and the son of Hampshire vicar, Reverend Shapurji Edalji and his wife Charlotte.
George (played by Arsher Ali) has served seven years in Pentonville Prison for sending threatening letters and allegedly mutilating animals, offences known as The Great Wyrley Rippings.
Following the tragic death of Conan Doyle's wife Louisa, the author attempts to get to the bottom of a case worthy of his own fictional detective.
"I was quite terrified by the thought of playing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but my wife, Philippa, had spent a great deal of time optioning the book and doing deals with agents, writers and ITV," says Martin Clunes.
"Arthur and George is a hugely successful book, and Julian Barnes didn't need us to make a television programme of it. Philippa very patiently and persistently pursued the idea. She swears there was no pressure, but there was pressure!" he jokes.
Though a versatile actor, he admits this has been his biggest challenge for some time.
"I am sure if somebody else had said: 'Why don't you do this?' I would have said: 'I'm a bit scared.' .' It is quite outside my comfort zone in a way.
"My comfort zone has been Doc Martin or documentaries about animals. That has been my life for so long, with little bits of acting along the way but never in the title role. This is quite big. Conan Doyle is a very famous Scotsman, so I had to speak with an authentic Scottish accent as well."
Of course it's hard to chat to Martin Clunes without mentioning that Cornish comedy drama about a miserable medic.
"To work on it's terrific," he enthuses. "I mean it's time consuming and the days are long, but given that's what we do, it's really nice to get to do it down there - to do it anywhere outside the M25 is rare, but to go to a holiday destination like that..."
Sadly Clunes is not giving away any spoilers about the next run of Doc Martin.
"Well it's all under wraps," he explains. "When we left it it was pretty gloomy.
"Our American fans are very rigorous with us and tell us we shouldn't have left it like that. We should have had a happy ending. We had a happy beginning so we had to move somewhere, and it gives us somewhere to claw back from... or not.
ARTHUR AND GEORGE ITV, Monday, 9pm
Martin Clues as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Arsher Ali as George