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.
Only ten years old when his father dies, Martin becomes more difficult after this. He befriends a small gang of young criminals from his local school and 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) after Nicky dumps him. Sonia is feeling vulnerable, and after getting drunk, they sleep together and she 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 demanding custody of the baby on learning of Sonia's plans to give her up for adoption. This leads to a court hearing where Sonia asks that baby Chloe be returned to her and she will raise her with her boyfriend, Jamie Mitchell, if Martin asks for custody with Pauline to support him. However, the judge rules that the adoption should go ahead 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), and causes 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 his late father's shed, assisted by 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 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 attempts to reform himself.
After a few brief relationships, including a one-night stand with Kelly Taylor (Brooke Kinsella), Martin begins growing close to Sonia, and they fall in love. After Sonia helps him come to terms with the death of his brother, Martin decides to propose marriage. Amidst constant interference from Pauline, Martin and Sonia decide to elope in June 2004. The newlyweds move in with Pauline but she puts constant strain on their marriage with 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 house, she claims that Martin slept with her and begins stalking him. When Martin physically threatens her, she calls the police and has him arrested before revealing their "affair" to Sonia. Sarah's plan is thwarted however, as Sonia refuses to leave her husband. After admitting that their affair is a lie, Sarah stabs Martin with a kitchen knife but 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 putting a real strain on his marriage. Things worsen when Sonia finds out that Martin and Pauline have been visiting her and Martin's 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 and they frequently exclude her from Rebecca's life. Martin tries to move on by dating Carly Wicks (Kellie Shirley) briefly, stirring up some jealousy in Sonia. Immediately after they divorce in October 2006, they begin to regret it and sleep together. They then secretly reunite and hope to keep it from Pauline but she eventually finds out and they argue. Pauline prepares to leave but the house catches fire, and Martin saves her. Pauline then claims 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 in the Square. Martin believes Joe murdered her, but Sonia confesses that she is responsible, as she had hit her earlier. After they fight, 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 with Rebecca, leaving Martin devastated. Sonia and Rebecca soon return and Martin calls the police to arrest her. It is later revealed that Joe killed Pauline. When Pauline's will is read, she gives Martin possession of the house but only if he does not live with Sonia. Martin and Sonia reunite anyway and they, Rebecca and Pauline's dog, Betty, leave Walford together on 2 February 2007. It is later revealed they are touring the USA, staying with Martin's sister, Michelle.
Sonia returns to Walford alone 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 now has a new girlfriend in Manchester. Sonia returns to the screen in January 2014 and and Martin returned on 5 December.2014. 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.