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Casualty star Derek Thompson exits show after 37 years - details

The Charlie Fairhead actor has decided to leave the soap

Derek Thompson as Charlie Fairhead in Casualty© BBC
Megan Bull
TV Writer
May 30, 2023
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Derek Thompson is waving goodbye to Casualty after 37 years. One of the show's longest-serving cast members, the 75-year-old has been portraying Charlie Fairhead since the soap's inception in 1986 and has starred in nearly 900 episodes. Releasing an official statement, Derek revealed: "The time has come for me to hang up Charlie's scrubs after the most wonderful 37 years. 

Derek Thompson as Charlie Fairhead © BBC
Derek Thompson as Charlie Fairhead in Casualty

"Charlie Fairhead was inspired by a real nurse – Pete Salt. 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 and I want to say thanks to Pete and everyone else over that time who has inspired me in bringing this character to life."

Following the news of Derek's departure, the BBC has confirmed that his final scenes will air in early 2024, so viewers won't have to say goodbye for a while. The broadcaster has also confirmed that details of his exit storyline will be revealed in due course. 

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Charlie Fairhead in a scene with Iain Dean and Sah Brockner © BBC
The actor's final scenes will air in 2024

Jon Sen, Executive Producer of Casualty for BBC Studios has also released a statement. "Derek and I would often joke that, after such a long and dramatic career in the NHS, there was almost nothing that Charlie hadn't seen. So 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," he said. 

WATCH: Derek Thompson's first ever appearance on Casualty in 1986

"We will all miss Derek enormously. 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."

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Casualty's Instagram account has also confirmed his exit from the show, stating that Derek will continue to film for the soap throughout autumn. Sparking a major reaction from fans, many were quick to respond. "Gutted, for so many years Charlie has been Casualty. [It] will be interesting to see the show without him, just as long as he's not killed off, that way there's a potential for a return in the future even if only for one ep," wrote one. 

It's amazing that Derek Thompson has been an integral part of Casualty from the very first episode. Happy retirement to both Derek and Charlie. You are leaving some big scrubs to fill, and will be missed," commented another. 

Derek Thompson as Charlie Fairhead. He is sitting on a hopsital bed and smiling. © BBC
Derek will continue to film for the show throughout Autumn

Meanwhile, a third penned: "Sad to hear, but respect to Derek for 37 years of brilliance. Respect, and good luck for the future. I look forward to seeing how we say goodbye to him and Charlie."

Derek has previously spoken about how much he loves playing Charlie on the show. Expressing his admiration for the character, in 2010 he told Holby TV: 'He [Charlie] has this amazing ability to forget about everything else that is going on in his life when it comes to the job. From day one he has had an absolute focus. But he does have a tendency to want everyone to win. Sometimes he spends too much time trying to hear everybody's side of the story instead of making a bold decision."

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