Dog Martin; EXCLUSIVE TV Star Clunes on Why He Has Swapped Wild Partying for Pooches

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Byline: BY TOM BRYANT and MARK JEFFERIES

MARTIN Clunes is barking mad about animals - which is why, when told to put his nose in a wolf's mouth, he didn't need to be asked twice.

"He was a refugee wolf and they aren't domesticated but nor are they wild," chuckles Martin, 46, by way of an explanation.

"I felt pretty safe sticking my nose inside its mouth - although I may not have been so bold had the cameraman not been checked out and accepted by the wolf first."

That was just one of the bizarre situations the TV star found himself in while making the two-part ITV1 documentary, A Man And His Dogs. He also got bitten on the leg by a police dog in America, dragged through a blizzard by huskies, and pulled from a snow-hole by a team of rescue dogs.

It was all part of his quest to see just how close our domestic pets are to their ancestors - wild wolves.

And Martin, who found fame in Men Behaving Badly alongside Neil Morrissey, knows more than most about curbing wild ways.

In the 90s he was a renowned party animal - not unlike his hell-raising character Gary Strang in the hit BBC sitcom.

He confessed to having lived life like "one big stag night". And said at the time: "I have tried most things - cocaine, LSD and lots of alcohol. I got drunk a lot. I would often wake up in the morning wishing the night before had never happened."

Sadly, his boozing and drug taking even led to the collapse of his first marriage, to Lucy Aston. What finally tamed Martin, who is now better known as a grumpy GP in medical drama Doc Martin, was meeting TV producer Philippa Braithwaite.

Ten years on, the couple are married, the proud parents of eight-year-old Emily, and have embraced a new life in the country.

Martin is glad to have turned his back on his hedonistic past.

"I'm over London now and I don't miss it in the slightest," he says. "It's a million miles away from the life I live now. Parenthood changes everything. I have to be in bed nowadays or I'm in trouble. In some ways I feel like I was a different person in my London days.

"Spool back to the late 90s and you'd have found Philippa and I sharing a small flat south of the Thames and working non-stop out of an office in Soho. Then we fell in love with Dorset and now have lots of dogs, plus a cat, chickens, horses and a donkey on our farm there.

"Sheep graze on our land. And while going through the daily routine of cleaning and feeding them all sometimes feels like working in a hotel, we love every second of our lives in the country.

"We've even sold our house in Putney, so our whole lives are now in Dorset.

"I'd certainly like more animals. In fact, I'm desperate for more. …