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Casualty viewers ‘in tears’ after original star leaves show after 38 years

Casualty viewers ‘in tears’ after original star leaves show after 38 years

Casualty said goodbye to its longest serving cast member on Saturday (16 March) with a dedicated episode that left viewers “in tears”.

Derek Thompson, who plays senior nurse Charlie Fairhead on the BBC medical drama, announced last year that he would be leaving the show after nearly 900 episodes.

The 75-year-old actor joined the series when it first started in 1986, and was the last remaining original cast member from the first episode.

In the episode, titled “Charlie”, the nurse is seen fighting for his life after being stabbed by a patient on last week’s show (9 March).

Fairhead is wheeled into A&E by his colleagues as he drifts in and out of consciousness. He experiences flashbacks to his younger years, where he is played by actor Jack Franklin who bears a striking resemblance to the young Thompson.

Viewers were left relieved after he survived the stabbing and was applauded out of the fictional Holby City hospital by his colleagues.

He is seen leaving in a yellow car at the end of the episode with a sign saying “Just retired” displayed at the back.

Thompson has been the only consistent presence on the award-winning show which has been a staple of BBC programming for nearly four decades.

Fairhead was applauded out of Holby City hospital after surviving a stabbing (BBC)
Fairhead was applauded out of Holby City hospital after surviving a stabbing (BBC)

Viewers were left in “floods of tears” at his exit calling it “the best casualty ever” as they shared their thoughts on X/Twitter.

“I am in absolute floods of tears”, wrote one fan while another added: “I haven’t seen Casualty in ages, and I’m in tears. Farewell, Charlie. Enjoy your retirement. See you in season two of Blue Lights”.

Others said, “What a beautiful story tonight... Tears are flowing as Charlie retires. Well done”.

Fans were left in ‘floods of tears’ following the beloved character’s final epsiode (BBC)
Fans were left in ‘floods of tears’ following the beloved character’s final epsiode (BBC)

Thompson described his exit storyline as “some of the best episodes of my career”.

The actor announced his retirement from the show on 30 May last year.

“The time has come for me to hang up Charlie’s scrubs after the most wonderful 37 years,” Thompson said at the time.

The BBC describes him as the “lynchpin of the hospital’s emergency department”, who has been at the centre of “countless major storylines which explored challenging and thought-provoking subjects”.

Thompson explained that the character was inspired by a real nurse called Pete Salt, saying: “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,” he said.

Thompson will return to screens in the second series of drama Blue Lights in a guest role playing retired police officer Robin Graham.