EastEnders actor Ian Lavender has revealed that he won't be making a return to the BBC soap as show bosses won't be able to insure him due to health problems. The 72-year-old, who is famous for playing Pauline Fowler's friend Derek Harkinson between 2001 and 2005, became ill with sepsis last year, having previously also battled cancer and a heart attack. "I don't think they could get me insured now," the star told Radio Times when asked about reprising his role.
Ian Lavender won't reprise his role as Derek in EastEnders
Talking about his time on EastEnders, he added: "I enjoyed it immensely. I've got nothing but admiration for all the soaps, for the getting on to the screen of three and four episodes a week. The pure discipline of that; everybody's got to do their job. Sadly, most of the time it's let down by the actors who haven't done their homework." His on-screen alter ego was first introduced in 2001 as a gay friend of Pauline Fowler, who was played by the late Wendy Richard. He continued in EastEnders for four years, with storylines mainly involving the Fowler family.
EastEnders spoilers: Major character's return has been confirmed
Ian found his big break in Dad's Army, playing Private Frank Pike when he was 22-years-old. The star went on to admit that his role in Dad's Army meant he was typecast in the years following the show. He explained: "It stopped me getting a type of work. I was typecast. I wasn't character-cast. I was expected to be funny; I wasn't expected to be Pike." Despite his thoughts, Birmingham-born Ian confessed he is still proud of the role. "I have never understood why actors say, 'It's not the only thing I've done'," he added.
Stay up-to-date with all EastEnders news and spoilers here…