Derek Thompson, 75, QUITS Casualty after 37 YEARS as Charlie Fairhead

Casualty star Derek Thompson, 75, reveals he’s finally hanging up his stethoscope as he QUITS show after 37 YEARS playing Charlie Fairhead

Derek Thompson has revealed he will be leaving BBC drama Casualty after 37 years on the show.

The 75-year-old actor, who has portrayed emergency department nurse Charlie Fairhead in nearly 900 episodes, is the longest-serving cast member on the BBC medical drama.

Yet in an announcement released on Tuesday, the actor revealed that ‘the time has come’, with his final scenes to air next year. 

Derek has played a central part in the show since it launched in 1986, but now his exit will culminate in a ‘gripping’ storyline which will see his character at the ‘front and centre’ of the action, the BBC has said.

Discussing his departure, Derek said: ‘The time has come for me to hang up Charlie’s scrubs after the most wonderful 37 years.’

Hanging up his stethoscope: Derek Thompson has revealed that he will be leaving Casualty after 37 years playing Charlie Fairhead

He continued: ‘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.’

Charlie has been the backbone of the hospital’s emergency department, with the character involved in a number of huge, hard-hitting storylines over the years.

This includes Charlie being run over by an ambulance on his wedding day, a near-fatal cardiac arrest during a gang siege, and his loving relationship – and heart-breaking farewell – with his beloved, fellow nurse Duffy (Cathy Shipton).

Duffy died on the show in 2020 after being diagnosed with dementia.

In heart-breaking scenes, Charlie found Duffy outside in the snow after going for a walk.

Rushed to hospital with hyperthermia, Duffy then experienced a bleed on her brain, which left Charlie to realise there was nothing more that could be done.

Charlie recently faced further devastation when he was forced to say goodbye to Robyn, who’s daughter, Charlotte, was named with him in mind.

Long-standing: The 75-year-old star has been in nearly 900 episodes and is the longest-serving cast member on the BBC medical drama (Pictured in the first series in 1986)

Robyn was involved in a catastrophic car accident while on the way to start her new life with Charlotte and partner Paul (Paul Popplewell).

Jon Sen, Executive Producer of Casualty for BBC Studios, said: ‘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.

‘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.’

Drama: Charlie has been in hard-hitting storylines over the years, including his loving relationship – and heart-breaking farewell – with his beloved, fellow nurse Duffy (Cathy Shipton) 

Sad: As news of his exit spread, fans immediately shared their heartbreak on Twitter

As news of his exit spread, fans immediately shared their heartbreak on Twitter.

One fan wrote: ‘Absolutely gutted. This is the end of an era. I’ve literally grown up with Charlie.’

Another said: ‘End of an era. Charlie will be greatly missed, but let’s enjoy all the episodes he’s in before his departure. Though, I honestly thought he was going to leave when Marty and David quit.’

A third added: ‘No he can’t leave it will not be the same without him he’s my favourite and I love his character no not our Charlie.’

Casualty airs on Saturdays on BBC One and streams on BBC iPlayer. 

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