After 37 years and nearly 900 episodes, Derek Thompson, who plays Charlie Fairhead, is set to bid farewell to the BBC drama Casualty. 

Thompson is Casualty’s longest-serving cast member and has played a central part in the show since it launched in 1986.

The BBC has today (May 30) confirmed he will be filming his final scenes in the autumn before the episodes are aired in 2024. 

The Northern Echo: Charlie Fairhead will be involved in a gripping exit storyline on Casualty.Charlie Fairhead will be involved in a gripping exit storyline on Casualty. (Image: BBC)

Talking about his departure, Thompson said: "The time has come for me to hang up Charlie’s scrubs after the most wonderful 37 years.

"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 lynchpin of the hospital’s emergency department and at the centre of countless major storylines.

Having cared for thousands of patients, Charlie has also been through his own struggles throughout his long tenure in the ED. 

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

Derek Thompson's Casualty exit storyline

Thompson will continue filming as part of Casualty up until the autumn, and his final scenes as Charlie will air next year in what the BBC described as a "gripping exit storyline" which will see the character front and centre of the action.

Executive Producer of Casualty for BBC Studios, Jon Sen, 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.”

Details of Charlie’s final Casualty storyline will be revealed at a later date.