Charlie is Leaving Casualty After 37 Years and Frankly, Who Can Blame Him?

Shot, run over by an ambulance on his wedding day, trapped in a tunnel collapse, driven into the sea... Is it any wonder Charlie’s finally had enough of Casualty? 

Derek Thompson as Charlie Fairhead in Casualty
Photo: Alistair Heap/BBC

NHS workers are heroes who put up with a staggering amount of stress in their working lives, but has any medical professional been through more than Holby City Hospital’s Charlie Fairhead? As news arrives that actor Derek Thompson is finally hanging up his scrubs and leaving BBC medical drama Casualty this autumn after 37 years, the only question to ask is… what took him so long?

Most of us would leave a job after getting shot in the chest by a schizophrenic killer. Not Charlie. We’d probably bow out after our first heart attack instead of keeping going after the third. We’d likely retreat to a less public-facing role after dealing with a single crazed gunman in the workplace, not sail through multiple hostage situations while also rescuing colleagues from a variety of life-threatening situations from tunnel collapses to freezing waters, watching two wives die, almost losing a son to Romanian organ traffickers, and – to add insult to injury – having a helicopter crash into our 30th anniversary works do. 

Most of us, though, aren’t Charlie Fairhead. Here’s a round-up of just some of the character’s biggest moments.

1987 – Nearly Falls Down an Underground Crevice

In series two episode “Lifelines”, Charlie assisted a group of imperilled potholers (who weren’t even grateful for his intervention, but that’s spelunkers for you) and came very close to sliding to his own demise in a below-ground cave crevice but luckily survived.

Ad – content continues below

1990 – Gets Shot in the Chest in a Hostage Situation

In series five’s “A Reasonable Man”, Kenneth Cranham played a schizophrenic patient who’d killed a man he wrongly suspected of having had an affair with his wife, and who, while being treated for injuries following a road accident, took nurse Megan hostage at gunpoint. In the ruckus that followed, Cranham’s character shot Charlie in the chest but thankfully, it turned out to be just a scratch.

1998 – Rescues his Kidnapped Girlfriend from a Gunman, and then Proposes

When Baz is taken hostage by an enraged gunman in series 12, episode 24 “We Can Be Heroes”, it’s Charlie to the rescue. He stopped her from being shot and watched her kidnapper killed by police sniper before asking Baz to marry him. She said yes, obvs.

1998 – Gets Run Over by an Ambulance on his Wedding Day

I mean, this is bad luck. In series 12, episode 24 “Everlasting Love”, Charlie and Baz’s wedding is interrupted when a local fire calls them and their guests back to work at the hospital, where Charlie ends up under the wheels of an ambulance driven by a murderous gangster in search of his runaway sister. Luckily, Charlie once again escaped with minor injuries and the wedding eventually went ahead. 

2001 – Emergency Delivers His Best Friend’s Baby

Charlie’s pal and future wife Duffy had a terrible run of it. In series 16, episode one “Holding the Baby”, she’s recently bereaved and heavily pregnant, but refuses to be taken to the hospital where her man died, so Charlie is forced to deliver her baby boy at home. Thankfully, it’s far from his first baby-birthing rodeo.

2003 – Saves His Ex-Wife’s Husband From a Skidoo Accident

On a blended family trip to Lapland in series 18, episode 16 “Eat, Drink and Be Merry”, Charlie reconnects with his ex-wife Baz but not before saving her new husband when he overestimates his ability on a skidoo. 

2005 – Gets Driven into the Sea

In series 19, episode 48 “Truth, Lies and Videotape”, Charlie goes on an ashes-scattering trip that ends in disaster when the bereaved drives the whole party off the harbour and into the sea. Charlie, of course, to the rescue. 

Ad – content continues below

2005 – Is Trapped in a Collapsed Tunnel

After a car chase leads to a pile-up that causes a partial tunnel collapse, Charlie has to tend to the victims in series 20, episode 18 “Deny Thy Father”.

2015 – Saves His Son From Romanian Organ Harvesters

Charlie’s son Louis has long been a source of worry for the man. As a boy, he went missing at a zoo and nearly died of a rare fever, then grew up and got addicted to heroin. In series 29, episode 32 “Exile”, Louis almost ended up having his organs harvested to pay for drug debts. Enter: Charlie to sort things out. 

2015 – Rescues a Drowning Bride and Has a Heart Attack

Casualty characters rarely get hitched without a hitch, and this boat-based-explosion wedding left bride Zoe being dragged under the freezing water as her voluminous dress pulled her down. Guest Charlie spotted her flailing, waded in to rescue her, and was rewarded by having a cardiac arrest in series 30, episode 1 “A Child’s Heart – Part One”.

2016 – A Helicopter Crashes into his Surprise Party 

In the brilliantly titled series 31 opening two-parter “Too Old For This Shift”, it’s all action, all the time. A surprise party is planned to celebrate Charlie’s 30 year tenure tenure on the wards, which is disrupted when a series of events escalates involving a car going off a cliff, a woman being run over, and an air ambulance crashing into the department.

Between all that, plus losing both Baz and Duffy, suffering pulmonary embolisms, radioactive patients, arrests, fires, depression, nervous breakdowns and more, the wonder is that the man lasted this long. Godspeed, Charlie Fairhead, may you be written out this autumn in style.

Casualty is available to stream on BBC iPlayer in the UK.

Ad – content continues below