eastenders

This EastEnders star rules out return to the soap - find out why

Derek Harkinson will not be heading back to Walford...

Sharnaz Shahid

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

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.

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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.

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