Martin Fowler (EastEnders)
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James Bye as Martin Fowler
|Portrayed by||Jon Peyton Price (1985–96)
James Alexandrou (1996–2007)
James Bye (2014–)
|First appearance||30 July 1985|
|Introduced by||Julia Smith (1985)
Dominic Treadwell-Collins (2014)
|Occupation||Market trader (fruit & veg)|
James Alexandrou as Martin Fowler
Martin Albert Fowler is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders. The role has been played by three actors: Jon Peyton Price from the character's birth in 1985 until 1996 and James Alexandrou from 1996 until 2007. The part was recast to James Bye in 2014 and Martin returned on 5 December.
Martin is the younger son of Pauline (Wendy Richard) and Arthur Fowler (Bill Treacher), born in July 1985. His considerably older siblings are Mark (David Scarboro) and Michelle (Susan Tully). Martin is the first baby to be born in the serial. He is christened Martin Albert Fowler, and his godparents are Angie Watts (Anita Dobson), Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) and Simon Wicks (Nick Berry). Martin grows up facing numerous family upsets, including the death of his grandmother Lou (Anna Wing), his father's mental breakdown and imprisonment and his parents' temporary separation in 1993, which Martin takes badly. As Martin ages he becomes surly and increasingly troublesome.
Martin is only ten years old when his father dies, and he becomes troublesome after this. He befriends a small gang of young criminals from his local school. A series of petty thefts, burglaries and vandalism culminates in him being arrested. Martin has a brief relationship with Nicky di Marco (Carly Hillman) in 2000, but she refuses to have sex. Martin turns to Sonia Jackson (Natalie Cassidy) directly after Nicky dumps him. Sonia is feeling vulnerable, and after copious amounts of alcohol, she agrees and becomes pregnant. Sonia gives birth to daughter Chloe on 26 October 2000 and when she names Martin as the father, a feud erupts between the Jacksons and the Fowlers, with Pauline adamant that she should be given custody of the baby. However, Sonia is eventually allowed to give the baby up for adoption when Martin admits that he does not want to be a father. Martin's deviancy continues when he takes drugs provided by Nick Cotton (John Altman), which leads to Martin's brother Mark (now Todd Carty) taking revenge and leaving Nick temporarily paralyzed.
Martin receives a six-month prison sentence in February 2003 after driving the car that hit Sonia's fiancé Jamie Mitchell (Jack Ryder), leading to his death. However, he only serves two months, being let out early for good behaviour. Once released, Martin resumes his criminal lifestyle by robbing a shop, blackmailing Kareena Ferreira (Pooja Shah) and growing cannabis in the shed of his deceased father with the help of his best friend, Asif Malik (Ashvin Luximon). This leads to family friend Derek Harkinson (Ian Lavender) taking the blame when the police find out, as Martin cannot risk being in trouble with the law, due to his previous convictions. It is not until Martin is confronted and forgiven by a bereaved Sonia that he finally begins to feel remorse for his actions and he then attempts to reform himself.
After a few brief relationships, including a one-night stand with Kelly Taylor (Brooke Kinsella), Martin begins to grow close to Sonia, and they end up falling in love and after Sonia helps him come to terms with the death of his brother, Martin decides to propose marriage. Amidst an array of interference from Pauline, Martin and Sonia decide to elope and marry away from Walford in June 2004. The newlyweds move in with Pauline, but their marriage is constantly put under strain by her meddling. Several months later, Martin unwittingly puts his marriage in jeopardy when he encounters Sarah Cairns (Alison Pargeter). After passing out drunk at Sarah's home, she pretends that Martin slept with her, and begins stalking him. When Martin physically threatens her, she contacts the police and gets him arrested and then reveals their fabricated affair to Sonia. Sarah's plan is thwarted however, as Sonia refuses to give her husband up. After admitting that their affair is a lie, Sarah stabs Martin with a kitchen knife, but then Sonia hits her over the head with Pauline's fruit bowl. Sarah is committed to a mental institution and Martin and Sonia put the incident behind them.
Pauline's influence over Martin starts to put a strain on his marriage to Sonia. Things worsen when Sonia discovers that Martin and Pauline have been seeing her adopted daughter (now named Rebecca) against her wishes. Early in 2006, their marriage breaks down, due to Sonia's lesbian affair with a fellow student, Naomi Julien (Petra Letang). Martin is devastated, but she soon regrets it when Martin is given custody of their daughter following the death of her legal guardian. Sonia is frequently excluded from her daughter's life by Martin and Pauline. Martin attempts to move on by having a brief relationship Carly Wicks (Kellie Shirley), which stirs up some jealousy in Sonia. Immediately after Martin and Sonia's divorce is finalised in October 2006, they begin to regret their separation. They have sex together, and they then secretly reunite and hope to keep it from Pauline. Pauline eventually finds out and they argue. Pauline prepares to leave Walford but the house catches fire, and Martin saves her. Pauline then tells him that she is dying from a brain tumour. In fact, she is faking it to make sure that Martin ends his relationship with Sonia, which he eventually does.
However Martin is stunned when it is revealed that Pauline has been lying. When Martin discovers that his mother is leaving for the United States on Christmas Day, he tries to persuade her to stay, but her decision is final. On Christmas Day, Martin proposes to Sonia again and she accepts, but later that day he discovers his mother's dead body outside in the Square. Martin believes Joe murdered her, but Sonia confesses that she killed Pauline, as she had hit her earlier. After a fight between the couple, the police arrive and Sonia is arrested on suspicion of murder. She is released and he forbids her to see Rebecca. Pauline's post-mortem results are announced and Martin is told that Pauline's death was caused by a severe blow to the head. Sonia goes on the run, but takes Rebecca as well, leaving Martin devastated. Sonia soon returns with Rebecca, so Martin calls the police to arrest her. It is later revealed that Joe was the one who killed Pauline. When Pauline's will is read, she gives Martin possession of the house but he has to forfeit it if he chooses to live with Sonia. Martin and Sonia reunite anyway, and they, with Rebecca and Pauline's dog Betty, leave Walford together on 2 February 2007. It is later revealed they are touring the USA, staying at the house of Martin's sister Michelle.
Sonia returns to Walford without Martin and Rebecca in February 2010 for Bianca's wedding. Initially Sonia says that Martin and Rebecca are fine, but then tells her mother Carol that she and Martin are having problems in their marriage. Sonia reveals in 2011 that she and Rebecca are living in Dagenham and that Martin is living with a new girlfriend in Manchester. Sonia returns to the screen in January 2014. Although she and Martin are now living together, they still have marital problems.
In December 2014, Martin returns to Walford to support Sonia on the evening of her Fat Blasters' Christmas party, but arrives late and discovers she has collapsed due to complications with a gastric band implementation she got in Bulgaria, which she kept secret from him. Sonia tells Martin that she had the operation as she felt like he was not attracted to her any longer, and he later recognises that they do not love each other and they separate, with Martin returning to Dagenham.
On 12 October 2014, it was announced that James Bye has taken over the role. Executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins explained that the recast took place with Alexandrou's blessing. He also said, "Our casting executive Julia Crampsie has found a genuine relatable London bloke in the talented James Bye—we are sure that viewers old and new will soon warm to Martin Fowler's charms as he returns home to Walford."
- Baillie, Katie (24 October 2014). "Martin Fowler recast to James Bye". Metro. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
- "EastEnders recasts Martin Fowler: James Bye to take over role". Digital Spy. 12 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014.