Derek Thompson (actor)

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Derek Thompson
Born (1948-04-04) 4 April 1948 (age 69)
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Occupation Actor
Years active 1961–present
Spouse(s) Dee Sadler
Children 2

Derek Thompson (born 4 April 1948) is a Northern Irish actor, most notable for playing Charlie Fairhead in the long-running BBC television medical drama series Casualty. Thompson has played the role since the series' inception in 1986.

Early life[edit]

Thompson has a twin sister, Elaine Thompson, who was born ten minutes after him. From the age of thirteen they combined to form the singing duo Elaine and Derek. They were inseperable during childhood, recording in total four albums and 15 EP's together. They sang in harmonies, and released one eponymously titled album, on the Parlophone label in 1961, before going on to appear in the feature film Gonks Go Beat (1965).[1] They then formed folk trio Odin's People with Larry Johns, who recorded two singles in 1967.[2] Before landing his big break in Casualty, the band toured around the country as far north as Perth, as wells as to Birmingham, London and Newcastle. As a young actor and musician, Thompson struggled to make ends meet, living in a "damp basement i couldn't get my breath". Biographical details are often how actors learn their method. Instead of learning a trade, like carpentry, he is an artisan working at his stagecraft.[3]


In the mid '60s Derek worked as Stage Manager in the Nonentities Theatre in Kidderminster. In the late 1970s and early 1980s Thompson became a regular face in BBC and ITV dramas. Appearances included Softly Softly, Play for Today, and Rock Follies of 77. He got a big break in Harry's Game, where he played the lead IRA gunman opposite fellow irish actor Hazel O'Connor. Later he played another IRA hitman in the TV series The Price and for a British mercenary gang in the Wild Geese II, both in shot in 1985.

During late 1970s and early 1980s Thompson had a number of minor film roles in America. In Yanks (1979) and Breaking Glass (1980), and also played Jeff, Harold Shand's lieutenant, in the box office hit Hollywood movie The Long Good Friday.

Before he appeared in Casualty, he had a recurring role, as DS Jimmy Fenton, in the ITV police drama The Gentle Touch.


Thompson began portraying Charlie Fairhead in Casualty in 1986. In that year he also met his future wife, Dee Sadler. She was an actress playing Maggie, who had to be rescued from a cave before hospitalisation. Thompson has currently played the role of Charlie for over 30 years, and is the only remaining character from the original cast. In 2004 his character went on a six-month sabbatical, which remains his most notable absence from the show. Currently, he is allowed a few months off from filming per year[citation needed]. In August 2015 Suzanne Packer departed and this now means Derek Thompson is the longest serving cast member.

Apart from Casualty, he has also played Charlie in the spin-off shows Holby City and HolbyBlue.


Thompson lives with wife, Dee and son, Charlie, already a child actor, in a flat in Bristol. Inside the flat is a recording studio; but he also owns a house in Brixton. By a previous marriage to Christine, a theatre director, he has an older son, Jack. At home he enjoys Married with Children and classical music, as well as Brookside. Suffering from dystonia, Thompson became patron of the Dystonia Society, which promotes botox as a treatment for the disease.


  • Strawberry Fields
  • WC/PC
  • The Bells of Hell
  • The Garden of England
  • Serjeant Musgrave's Dance
  • The Cherry Orchard
  • The Passion
  • Dispatches
  • The Mysteries
  • Weapons of Happiness
  • Lavender Blue
  • Has Washington Legs
  • School for Scandal

Book Appearances[edit]

  • Swings & Roundabouts by Lynda Del Sasso
  • Casualty: The Inside Story by Hilary Kingsley
  • Behind the Scenes by Rachel Silver
  • Charlie's Casenotes by Hugh Millar


Year Film Character Type
1965 Gonks Go Beat Ballad Isle Singer (as Elaine and Derek) Film
1977 Rock Follies of 77 6 episodes: Harry Moon TV Series
1978 Me! I'm Afraid of Virginia Woolf Skinner TV Movie
1979 Yanks Ken Film
1979 The Donedyke Mystery 6 episodes: Tom Richards TV Series
Hard to Get
The Photograph
1980 Breaking Glass Andy Musical Drama
1980 The Long Good Friday Jeff Thriller Movie
1980 Minder 1 episode: Harry TV Series
1980-1982 The Gentle Touch 26 episodes: Det Sgt Jimmy Fenton TV Series
1980 Flamingo Road 1 episode: Guest Star TV Series
1981 Bosom Buddies 1 episode: Rodney TV Series
1982 The Greatest American Hero 1 episode: Spielman TV Series
1982 Harry's Game 3 episodes: Billy Downes TV Series
1983 Bergerac 1 episode: Wyatt TV Series
1983-1984 Brookside 6 episodes: Will Thurley Soap Opera
1985 Wild Geese II Hourigan Film
1986 Fighting Back 5 episodes: Bruce Curran TV Series
1985 The Price
1986-2017 Casualty )[4] Charlie Fairhead TV Soap Opera
1992, 1994 Children in Need as Himself TV Show
1998 Resurrection Man Herbie Ferguson Film
1999-2012 Holby City [5] 4 episodes: Charlie Fairhead TV Series
2001 The Parkers Doctor#1 TV Series
2001 Through the Keyhole Show participant TV Game Show
2002 West Wing 1 episode: Man TV Series
2007 Holby Blue 1 episode: Charlie Fairhead TV Mini-Series
2010 EastEnders Guest Star: Charlie TV Soap Opera
2014 You Saw Them Here First Guest Star: as Himself TV Christmas Special


  1. ^ Gonks Go Beat (1965)
  2. ^ Odin's People - Irish Rock Discography
  3. ^ Cheryl Griffin (10 June 2010). "Derek Thompson". Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  4. ^ "Casualty (TV Series 1986- )". Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  5. ^ "Holby TV - Derek Thompson Interview.". 10 June 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2017.  Has played in 3 episodes.

External links[edit]