BBC Casualty: Longest-serving cast member Derek Thompson to leave drama after 37 years as Charlie Fairhead
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Derek Thompson, the longest-serving cast member of BBC hit medical series Casualty, is set to leave the show after 37 years in the role of Charlie Fairgead. The 75-year-old was the only remaining character when the first episode aired in 1986.
The Belfast-born actor will be filming until the autumn, and his final scenes as Charlie will air next year. He told the BBC: "The time has come for me to hang up Charlie’s scrubs after the most wonderful 37 years. "
“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."
Over the years, viewers have seen Fairhead deal with a lot of drama from the patients in the emergency room as well as some personal issues. Among the highlights were when he was run over by an ambulance on his wedding day, shot in the chest with a revolver by a schizophrenic man, and held hostage by an armed man.
The character was previously observed being driven off a pier and has experienced two heart attacks brought on by stress as well as a pulmonary embolism. The will-they-won’t-they relationship between him and his beloved colleague nurse Duffy (Cathy Shipton) lasted 30 years, and viewers watched him say a heartbreaking goodbye to her.
Jon Sen, executive producer of Casualty, said they used to joke that after Fairhead’s long and dramatic career in the NHS there was not much that he hadn’t seen. He 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.
"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."
Thompson starred in nearly 900 episodes as Fairhead, whose character was inspired by a real-life nurse, Pete Salt.