BBC Casualty: How long has Derek Thompson played Charlie Fairhead, what’s he said about leaving and what’s he doing next?

This weekend will no doubt be tough for fans of BBC medical drama Casualty as it’s the start of the final chapter for actor Derek Thompson who’s hanging up his scrubs after 37 years as nurse Charlie Fairhead – the popular show’s longest running cast member. Derek’s exit from Casualty was first announced last year, leaving viewers devastated.

During his time on the show Derek has seen and been a part of a whole host of dramatic storylines from being shot in the chest by a schizophrenic man to being run over by an ambulance on his wedding day, having two stress-induced heart attacks and being driven off a pier.

As well as medical storylines, Derek’s character was involved in a will-they-won’t-they relationship that spanned over thirty years. Are you sad to see him leave the series? Let us know in the comments.

 

Speaking about his departure, the 75-year-old Belfast born actor said: “The time has come for me to hang up Charlie’s scrubs after the most wonderful 37 years.” Shortly before Derek’s final episode airs, the BBC confirmed that the actor would be joining the cast of Belfast police drama Blue Lights – read more about that here.

Charlie Fairhead was, as reported by the BBC, inspired by a real-life nurse called Pete Salt, who alongside being an A+E nurse was a medical-advisor on the series. In a statement on the show’s Instagram page, the actor paid homage to Pete and said: “Together with the writers and producers, I have tried to bring to Charlie the compassion, kindness, heroism and sound judgement that we all see and love in Pete. I want to say thanks to Pete and everyone else over that time who has inspired me in bringing this character to life.” But why is Derek – and Charlie – leaving the show?

Derek Thompson as Charlie Fairhead

Derek Thompson as Charlie Fairhead (Image: PA)

Charlie Fairhead’s exit

It seems Derek came to the producers with his own idea for how Charlie should exit the show and, reflecting on this, Jon Sen, executive producer of Casualty, said: “It was an amazing surprise to me when Derek arrived with a brilliant idea for Charlie’s exit as part of an upcoming storyline, which was too good to pass up, we will all miss Derek enormously.”

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He added: “Over nearly four decades, Derek has crafted an iconic character who is woven into the fabric of British TV history. We will miss his craft, his humour and his on-screen presence. We’re also going to miss a friend, so for the next few months we’re going to have a ball filming Charlie’s final chapter.”

While we don’t know why Derek is leaving the show nor do we know on what grounds his character will bid the show farewell, according to The Guardian, the broadcaster said it will be a “culmination of a gripping exit storyline which will see the character front and centre of the action”.

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The official X account for Casualty has confirmed that Charlie’s final story, which is a two-parter, will begin on Saturday, March 9, at 9.20pm on BBC One. A synopsis for the episode, which is called A History of Violence, has teased: “Charlie vows to prove there is good in the world – with disastrous consequences. Stevie is proven right but can it save her job?”

How long has Derek Thompson been in Casualty?

Derek Thompson in his early days on Casualty

Derek Thompson in his early days on Casualty (Image: PA)

Derek Thompson first appeared in Casualty in September 1986 in its pilot episode and remained on the show until Series 18, when he took a nine-month break. He returned in January 2005 before taking a four-month break in August of that year. Christmas 2005 saw him returning for a Casualty-Holby City crossover and he’s remainined in the show ever since.

 

 

 

 

 

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