After a remarkable 37-year tenure in the iconic role of Charlie Fairhead, Derek Thompson has announced his departure from the long-running BBC drama series ‘Casualty’. Thompson, who has appeared in nearly 900 episodes, holds the distinction of being the longest-serving cast member in the show’s history since its launch in 1986. Filming will continue until the autumn, with Charlie’s final scenes set to air next year, as part of an enthralling exit storyline that will place the character at the forefront of the action.
Reflecting on his decision, Derek Thompson expressed his gratitude for the incredible journey he had experienced portraying Charlie Fairhead. He mentioned that the character of Charlie was inspired by a real nurse named Pete Salt, and together with the talented team of writers and producers, he endeavoured to imbue Charlie with the compassion, kindness, heroism, and sound judgment that Pete exemplified. Thompson also extended his heartfelt appreciation to Pete and everyone else who had served as an inspiration throughout the years in bringing Charlie to life.
Jon Sen, the Executive Producer of ‘Casualty’ at BBC Studios, revealed that both he and Thompson often joked about the vast range of experiences Charlie had encountered during his dramatic career in the NHS. Therefore, it came as a delightful surprise when Thompson presented a brilliant idea for Charlie’s exit as part of an upcoming storyline, an opportunity that couldn’t be missed. Sen expressed deep sadness over Thompson’s departure, acknowledging the tremendous impact he had made on the show. Over the course of nearly four decades, Thompson had meticulously crafted an iconic character deeply ingrained in the fabric of British television history. Sen praised Thompson’s talent, humour, and undeniable on-screen presence, and spoke of the loss not only to the show but also to the personal friendship they shared. Sen anticipated that filming Charlie’s final chapter would be an enjoyable experience for all involved.
Throughout his eventful tenure on ‘Casualty’, Charlie Fairhead has been the pivotal figure in the hospital’s emergency department, propelling numerous major storylines that delved into challenging and thought-provoking subjects. As a dedicated nurse, he has cared for countless patients, weathering his own personal struggles along the way. Charlie’s resilience was tested on occasions such as being run over by an ambulance on his wedding day, surviving a near-fatal cardiac arrest during a gang siege, and the heart-wrenching farewell with his beloved fellow nurse Duffy (portrayed by Cathy Shipton). Through it all, Charlie emerged as the unwavering heart of the department, a loyal colleague always there for those in need.
Details surrounding Charlie Fairhead’s final storyline on ‘Casualty’ will be unveiled in due course, heightening the anticipation among devoted fans of the show.
‘Casualty’ is a BBC Studios Continuing Drama production for BBC One and iPlayer. Jon Sen serves as the Executive Producer for BBC Studios, while Liza Mellody holds the position of Series Producer. Rebecca Ferguson is the Commissioning Editor for the BBC, overseeing the production of the series.