Derek Thompson’s Casualty exit after 38 years praised by co-stars and fans

Derek Thompson’s final scenes in Casualty have been praised by his co-stars and fans as he bowed out of the medical drama after 38 years.

After nearly 900 episodes playing charge nurse Charlie Fairhead, Thompson bid an emotional farewell to the BBC One series on Saturday night.

The Belfast-born actor, 75, was the show’s longest-serving cast member and featured in the first episode in 1986.

His co-star Sunetra Sarker, who plays Dr Zoe Hanna, said it had been a “privilege” to be present for Thompson’s last episode as she returned to the show for a brief stint.

“The absolute icon that is Charlie Fairhead bows out with his unique style and talent”, she wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“It was a privilege to be there for his farewell. Forever Fairhead.”

Actress Elinor Lawless, who plays Stevie Nash in the medical drama, said it had been an “honour” to work alongside Thompson.

She wrote on X: “Here’s to our beloved friend and fellow cast member – the main man himself. Mr T. it’s been an honour.”

Screenwriter Sally Abbott, who has written Casualty episodes, also paid tribute to nurse Pete Salt, who the character of Charlie was based on, by sharing a photo of him alongside Thompson.

She wrote: “Goodbye Charlie Fairhead. Love this still from last night’s @BBCCasualty of Derek Thompson with Pete Salt, the nurse his character was based on.

“Pete has been across every single script, I always wrote my eps for him & the other medics on the show. Pete is the DNA of the show.”

Thompson previously said he felt his last scenes on the show were “some of the best episodes of my career”.

In his penultimate episode, Charlie was brutally stabbed by a patient and in his final appearance a team was seen attempting to save his life after the attack.

As he slipped in and out of consciousness, the show incorporated a flashback to his first day at the hospital.

Viewers were relieved at the end of the episode when it was clear Charlie had survived the attack, with his colleagues applauding him as he left the hospital and drove off in a vintage yellow Volkswagen Beetle, the same type of car he was shown driving in his first Casualty episode.

Following his departure, fans took to social media to praise the fitting send-off for the actor.

It was recently revealed that Thompson will be appearing in the second series of Blue Lights, guest starring as retired police officer Robin Graham whose “past and conscience catch up with him” when trainee solicitor Jen Robinson (Hannah McClean) investigates an old case.