‘I was supposed to be in Casualty for three years and ended up doing 38’: NI star Derek Thompson on emotions of leaving role

Casualty star Derek Thompson has said he doesn’t consider himself a legend as he bows out of the show after almost 40 years.

The Belfast actor plays nurse Charlie Fairhead in the BBC medical drama.

As the longest-serving character, he is the only remaining original cast member from the first episode broadcast in 1986.

Thompson (75), whose next move will see him join the cast of Blue Lights as a retired police officer, admits he felt “heightened emotions” while filming his departure.

He also revealed that his character was supposed to leave decades ago.

Derek Thompson in 1986 when Casualty first aired
Thompson told OK! magazine: “I never envisaged that I’d stay 38 years. I originally signed up for three years, but it soon became apparent what a great character he was to play.

“Medicine and television have both changed a lot since I started. But the basics are still there — the reception area and desk where people roll up is still performing the same function it did on my first day.”

In a gripping two-part finale to his time on the ward, Charlie’s life is left hanging in the balance.

He was stabbed by a crazed patient during last Saturday’s episode.

After intervening when he found the patient carrying a box full of drugs, Charlie was left bleeding out on the floor in the hospital.

Derek Thompson as Charlie Fairhead in the BBC medical drama, Casualty (Warren Orchard/BBC/PA)
Thompson added: “Charlie gets it wrong, and he makes a mistake that he pays a dreadful price for.

“Last weekend, the patient was in a mess, and Charlie tried not to lose his temper, but he ended up getting on the wrong side of the man.

“As everyone saw, it ended with him being stabbed.Có thể là hình ảnh về 1 người

“I don’t want to spoil it by saying whether or not he survives, but everything felt heightened when I filmed my last scenes.

“It felt like one of those big emotional moments in your life, like the birth of a child or your wedding.”


He added: “I have utter respect for NHS staff. This final story really does create a realism, which will poke people in the eye and say, ‘This really is painful for these people, and yet they struggle on.’”

Over the last 38 years, Charlie has been involved in some of Casualty’s biggest storylines.

He has survived three heart attacks and being shot.

Derek in Blue Lights, where he plays a retired cop
He has also dated numerous women, notably Barbara ‘Baz’ Hayes — another original character — who eventually became his wife for several years.

But asked if he views himself as a TV legend, Thompson laughed: “No, I don’t see myself as a legend.

“That’s someone who does something extraordinarily consistently. I see myself as a long-distance runner, one that never gives up and just keeps on going.”

But as he now prepares to leave the ward for the last time, he is certainly not planning to walk away from acting any time soon.

“No way am I retiring,” he insisted. “I’m busier than ever and I’m working on some musical projects at the moment.

“In Blue Lights, I play a retired police officer, Robin Graham, whose past, and conscience, catch up with him when a trainee solicitor decides to investigate a decade-old case.”

​Read the full interview in the latest issue of OK!

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