Dr Martin Ellingham has been forced to give up his career as an eminent surgeon, and retrain as a GP, after developing a phobia to blood.
A vacancy arises in the sleepy Cornish hamlet of Portwenn following the death of the local GP. Martin has fond memories of the little fishing port where he spent happy childhood holidays with his Aunt Joan.
On the lengthy train journey to Cornwall for an interview for the post, Martin takes a close interest in a pretty woman sharing his carriage. His intense scrutiny unsettles the woman and forces her to find a seat in another carriage.
When he arrives to be interviewed, he finds the woman is schoolteacher Louisa Glasson, the lay member of the interviewing panel. Louisa is particularly tough in her questioning of Martin. Despite his distinguished qualifications she questions whether he has the social skills and bedside manner for the job. But she is outnumbered by the rest of the panel, who are only too delighted to have a man of such eminence as their village GP.
As Martin leaves the interview Louisa challenges him about why he had been staring at her on the train. He curtly advises Louisa to see an eye specialist as he has detected acute glaucoma.
Martin takes in his new home, the picture postcard village of pretty little white-washed cottages and narrow alleys. He thinks he is going to be happy here.
But as he moves in and meets the locals he begins to realise that adjusting to village life is not going to be plain sailing. In his sharp suits and flashy car, he's like a fish out of water.