Charlie Slater in 2011
|Portrayed by||Derek Martin
Jason McGregor (flashback)
|First appearance||4 September 2000|
|Last appearance||25 December 2013|
|Created by||Tony Jordan|
|Introduced by||John Yorke (2000)
Bryan Kirkwood (2011)
Dominic Treadwell-Collins (2013)
|EastEnders: Slaters In Detention (2003)
Eastenders: Pat and Mo: Ashes to Ashes (2004)
EastEnders: E20 (2010)
Charles "Charlie" Slater is a fictional character from the British soap opera EastEnders, played by actor Derek Martin, making his first appearance on 4 September 2000. He is played by Jason McGregor in flashbacks broadcast in 2001. He also makes a cameo appearance in the second series of the spin-off EastEnders: E20. In April 2010, the character was axed among five others by new executive producer Bryan Kirkwood as part of a plan to "breathe new life into the show". The reaction to Charlie's axing was negative with Stuart Heritage from The Guardian saying that it 'should be a national day of mourning' and Phil Daniels who had previously played (Kevin Wicks), also criticised the axings stating that Charlie was a "good character". He departed from EastEnders on 13 January 2011. Martin returned for a two episode stint in April; his return saw 10.31 million people watch on 19 April and 8.43 million on 21 April. On 3 November 2013, it was announced that Martin would return again, this time on 24 and 25 December 2013.
Charlie, a widowed cab driver whose wife Viv Slater (April Martin) died in 1999, arrives in Walford with his mother-in-law Mo Harris (Laila Morse), daughters Lynne (Elaine Lordan), Kat (Jessie Wallace), Little Mo (Kacey Ainsworth), and Zoe (Michelle Ryan), plus Lynne's boyfriend, Garry Hobbs (Ricky Groves). It soon emerges that Kat is actually Zoe's mother and that it has been kept a family secret until Zoe finds out. Zoe finds out that Kat is her mother when she shouts it out loud on the street after Zoe has the idea to go to Spain. Demanding to know the identity of her birth father, Zoe and Charlie are stunned to discover that it was Charlie's brother Harry (Michael Elphick). Zoe runs away after the revelation and when she returns, the family discover that she has been living with an old school friend Kelly Taylor (Brooke Kinsella) in a brothel, where they worked as prostitutes. Soon after, Kelly arrives in Walford and Charlie agrees that she can stay with them, which she does so for two years. Little Mo, normally a timid and shy young woman, assaults her husband Trevor Morgan (Alex Ferns) with an iron. The family learn that Trevor has been subjecting Mo to domestic abuse. Worse comes when Little Mo is found guilty of attempted murder and sentenced to eight years in prison. The family appeal and a retrial is ordered. In exchange for Kat not pressing charges against Trevor for assaulting her, he agrees not to testify against Mo. She is released and comes back to live with her family. Two years later Little Mo, now married to Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick), is raped in The Queen Victoria public house by Graham Foster (Alex McSweeney). When Charlie finds out, he attacks Graham after locking him in his taxi. Charlie is arrested and remanded in custody for grievous bodily harm, to which he pleads guilty but the family has to pay Graham £10,000 compensation. Charlie's cab license is revoked, but is later restored. Little Mo discovers she is pregnant and is advised by her family to have an abortion, but she refuses and leaves Walford. Lynne, now married to Garry, is expecting a baby, however, she is injured when a fairground ride collapses and she suffers a placental abruption, meaning she needs an emergency Caesarean section. The baby dies and Lynne is only saved by a hysterectomy. Devastated, she leaves Walford. Charlie's great-niece Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner) arrives and moves in, and Charlie becomes a father figure to her, helping her curb her rebellious and wayward attitude. At the same time, he comforts Zoe after she has an abortion. Zoe eventually leaves Albert Square, soon followed by Kat who is now married to Alfie Moon (Shane Richie). However, Stacey's mother Jean (Gillian Wright) moves in with the family. Stacey's brother Sean (Robert Kazinsky) also moves in to Charlie's house for a time, though Charlie dislikes him, and he soon moves out.
Charlie puts an advertisement in a lonely hearts column and becomes a member of an internet dating website, meeting and falling for Brenda Boyle (Carmel Cryan), a Salvation Army member from Clacton. However, their romance begins to fizzle out. After not seeing each other for several weeks, Brenda ends the relationship, telling Charlie that she and her brother are moving to Madeira. Not wishing to end the relationship, Charlie gets approval from Stacey and Mo to go with her. He returns not long after with a Russian woman named Orlenda (Mary Tamm). Mo is suspicious of her and follows her around. On seeing her with another man, Mo takes a photo to show Charlie. Charlie confronts Orlenda who admits that she was using Charlie for his money and he asks her to leave. When Stacey stops taking medication for her bipolar disorder, Charlie insists that she has to start again as she almost lost her baby Lily. Charlie asks Dot Branning (June Brown) to speak to Stacey as he believes that Lily's father is Stacey's deceased husband Bradley (Charlie Clements), Dot's step-grandson. Dot then reveals that Lily is not Bradleys. Charlie asks Stacey why she has not told the truth and begs her to take her pills, trying to force one into her mouth. Stacey says she has already taken them and Charlie apologises, then walks out of the house in tears. He spends the night at Patrick Trueman's (Rudolph Walker) house, and invites Patrick and Jim Branning (John Bardon) for drinks. Later, Sam Mitchell (Danniella Westbrook) asks Charlie to take her to the hospital because she is worried her baby Richard is unwell, however after driving part way, Charlie tells her the symptoms are normal. As he turns around, he reverses into some boxes in front of a van, and is then stopped by a police officer (Laurence Mitchell). The next day, Mo opens a letter for Charlie and learns was caught driving over the limit. They argue as he could lose his driving licence, and Charlie later apologises to Stacey for forcing her to take her pills.
Charlie is shocked when his daughter Kat returns to Albert Square. Kat is trying to avoid some thugs to whom she owes money. They catch up with her at Charlie's house, and Kat tries to escape. In the commotion, Charlie reminds Kat that she hasn't even asked about his life or anyone else's in Walford. Kat's estranged husband Alfie then arrives and chases the thugs away. However, Charlie is then dismayed to learn that Kat is pregnant, and Alfie is not the father. Alfie and Kat reopen The Queen Victoria as landlords and give Charlie a job there as a potman. Kat gives birth to Tommy, on the same day Ronnie Branning (Samantha Womack) gives birth. Kat is rushed to hospital, leaving Tommy in Charlie's care, but he joins the New Year Eve's party instead. Ronnie's baby dies of cot death and she secretly swaps the babies. Alfie and the rest of the family then discover the dead baby, believing it to be Tommy. Charlie admits to Kat that the baby was left alone as he was drinking, so Kat blames him for the death. Charlie tries to make things right, but eventually realises it is best for him to leave. Mo begs him to stay but he refuses. Mo tells Kat and Alfie, and when Alfie says dads have feelings too, they run to the tube station. Kat forgives Charlie and he leaves to stay with Lynne. When Kat and Alfie receive Tommy back in April 2011, Charlie visits Kat and helps her bond with her son. Kat asks Charlie to return to Walford, but he refuses as he is in a relationship with a younger woman named Eileen, and they are getting married. Soon after, he returns to Lynne's. In January 2012 Charlie suffers a stroke off screen. Kat, Alfie, Tommy and Shenice Quinn (Lily Harvey) go to visit him in hospital and stay with him for a while. Soon after Alfie returns with Shenice and reveals Kat and Tommy are staying with Charlie until he recovers. Kat later returns to Walford with Tommy. Charlie visits Kat and Alfie for Christmas and to celebrate their last days in The Queen Victoria.
Charlie makes a cameo appearance in episode 6 of EastEnders: E20, where he is eating dinner in front of the television when there is a power cut, caused by Sol Levi (Tosin Cole) and Stevie Dickinson (Amanda Fairbank-Hynes).
Creation and development
Derek Martin had previously auditioned for the roles of Den Watts and Frank Butcher in the 1980s and was shortlisted for both roles, but was ultimately unsuccessful. He requested to screen-test for the role of Charlie in 2000. He was successful and offered a contract with the soap for a minimum of three years, with potential for longer. Martin described playing Charlie as "comfortable", like putting on an "old coat" and stated in 2002 that he would like to stay with EastEnders until he dies. He described Charlie as an easy-going family man. The EastEnders website calls Charlie "mild mannered" and the rock that keeps the Slater family together, as well as "positive as long as his family's round him." He was also described as a 'devoted dad'. In 2009 it was announced that Martin would take a break from the series. His temporary departure storyline saw Charlie run away with his new love interest, Brenda Boyle (Carmel Cryan), however BBC confirmed that he would return in a "few weeks time". The storyline involved Charlie jumping in front of a bus to stop her from emigrating to Madeira. A spokesperson said, "Charlie's move is only temporary and that he will return soon. His heart remains in Walford." It was reported in February 2010 that Martin's real-life knee surgery would be scripted into the show. He said, "My operation will probably be in the middle of May and then hopefully you'll see Charlie on crutches". Martin's operation was in April 2010 and Martin revealed, "I went back to EastEnders at that point and a runner followed me round with a chair and my sticks." Although Charlie was never seen on crutches, he had a limp in episodes broadcast in April 2011.
In April 2010 it was announced that the character had been axed along with five others by the new executive producer Bryan Kirkwood as part of a plan to "breathe new life into the show". Charlie left EastEnders on 13 January 2011. Martin opined that his favourite storyline to film was finding out that Kat was raped by Harry, on which he stated "I shared some emotional scenes with Kat during that storyline." He later stated that the storyline was "very strong". In October 2010, a last minute scene was filmed involving Charlie and Patrick, focuing on George Osborne's spending review, in which the characters discuss the impact of the Chancellor's plans. Talking about the baby swap storyline involving Kat, Alfie, Ronnie Branning (Samantha Womack) and Jack Branning (Scott Maslen), Martin explained that he only read his own parts of the script, so thought that Charlie simply leaves his grandson alone, gets drunk and the baby dies. On Charlie's part in the story, he said "[T]hat's terrible guilt obviously—because [he] feel[s] as though it's [his] fault that he's died. I was surprised when I saw the story come out [...] that it was a baby swap." On 2 March 2011, it was announced that Martin had recently returned to film two episodes. An EastEnders source told Digital Spy, "Although they've had their ups and downs, Kat deeply regrets pushing Charlie away. The pair have a tearful reunion and there won't be a dry eye in the house." Jessie Wallace who plays Charlie's daughter Kat Moon, said that Charlie would help Kat come to terms with the fact that her baby is still alive, "With what happened the night they thought Tommy died, things were still unresolved for them. Although they cleared the air before he left, things weren't right between them, so to have him back with her now makes it all the more special. It's also Charlie that makes Kat realise that she needs to bond with Tommy. He makes her see that she can do this." Martin returned for two episode's on 19 and 21 April 2011.
In popular culture
The character of Charlie Slater has been spoofed in the cartoon sketch show 2DTV. It was revealed that in July 2005 Derek Martin would appear as a guest star on the third series of Little Britain. He played himself and was constantly referred to by the character of Marjorie Dawes as "Charlie Slater".
James Donaghy from The Guardian called Charlie "a lovely bloke" and "the embodiment of salt-of-the-earth decency and stupidity", saying one of his favourite moments in Charlie's time in EastEnders was his attack on Trevor. Grace Dent, also from The Guardian, said that one of her favourite soap opera moments of 2008 was when an escaped tarantula crawled up Charlie's leg. The Mail said that Charlie 'was known to millions'. The episode in which he left following the aftermath of the baby swap storyline attracted 10 million viewers according to Digital Spy. His two episode return saw on 19 April, 10.31 million people watch and 8.43 million on 21 April. Christopher Hooton from the Metro newspaper negatively reviewed Charlie's exit scenes, saying, "Unfortunately the long-time cast member's exit felt a little rushed. [...] As EastEnders characters' last hurrahs go, Charlie Slater's will not be going down in TV history." Stuart Heritage from The Guardian criticised Kirkwood's axings saying, By rights, this should be a national day of mourning. EastEnders has got a new executive producer – Bryan Kirkwood – and, as executive producers so often do, he's decided to spend his first few days hiding in a bush, taking out several characters with a poisoned blowpipe. This weekend it emerged that six EastEnders characters are to get the chop. Some of them are long-standing and beloved, like Charlie Slater and Minty. He said that it was 'a tremendously bad idea'. Phil Daniels who played Kevin Wicks in the soap, criticised the axing of Charlie along with five other axings, as they were "good characters".
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