EastEnders Charlie Slater stars life – son’s health battle and slamming show

Derek Martin, celebrated for his remarkable portrayal of Charlie Slater in the iconic British soap opera EastEnders, left an indelible mark on the show during his impressive 15-year tenure.

Cab driver Charlie burst onto the scene in 2000, introducing viewers to his lively family dynamic, including his mother-in-law Mo Harris and his four daughters – Lynne, Kat, Little Mo, and Zoe.

Through the years, Charlie became entangled in gripping storylines that captivated audiences.

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From the heart-wrenching revelation of his brother Harry's abuse of Kat to his own brushes with the law, including a charge of GBH for defending Little Mo, Charlie's character arc was nothing short of riveting.

His departure from Walford in 2011 marked a temporary farewell, but he would return intermittently before meeting a tragic end in 2016, succumbing to a fatal heart attack in emotional scenes.

Derek Martin continues to be a celebrated figure, with EastEnders paying homage to his enduring legacy through a storyline involving Lily Slater giving birth to a baby named Charli Branning-Slater.

As the actor behind the role celebrate his 90th birthday, and his names yet again fills Albert Square, let’s take a look back at the star’s amazing life off-screen

Milestone 90th Birthday

In a heartwarming celebration befitting a true legend, Derek recently marked the milestone of his 90th birthday. The actor looked thrilled as he posed with a huge birthday cake covered in fruit as she was surrounded by his family.

Derek's two sons, David and Jonathan, who bear an uncanny resemblance to their legendary father were there to offer up beaming smiles, as well as iconic Carry On star, Anita Harris.

Derek and Anita, two icons of British entertainment, cosied up together, with Anita holding his hand as he put an arm over her shoulders.

Son’s Health Battle

Derek’s real-life son David's battle with depression played a key part in Derek's return to Albert Square in 2016.

The storyline followed Stacey Branning's postpartum psychosis and depression, creating a powerful parallel between fiction and reality.

"At work I had the Stacey storyline. Then, I got home and there was my son, who I'd been worried about during the day, suffering from severe depression," Derek candidly disclosed at the time.

"I had it fictionally and I had it practically."

He revealed how the character of Charlie Slater had become a vehicle for him to explore the complexities of mental health issues both on and off-screen.

Blasting Show

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Last year Derek said the soap had become "irrelevant" and "miserable" and begged writers to bring the comedy back into it.

He's criticised the show for losing its focus and says the long-running series needs to stop trying to focus on bringing in younger viewers and cater for its audience at hand.

"You've got to have humour, because there's always something to laugh about in life," he told The Sun

"You used to have Charlie, Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker) and Jim Branning (John Bardon) sitting at the allotments with a few beers, just talking about silly things. That's what happens in real life. You need that on EastEnders."

Derek, from Bow, East London, left the soap when his character suffered a fatal heart attack in 2016.

He says: "Every day, I get stopped by Joe Public.

"They say, 'Charlie' – because they still use my character’s name – 'what’s happened with EastEnders?'

"Coronation Street still has strong families but EastEnders seems to have lost that," he added.

"I’ve nothing against youngsters. They’re the future, but it’s like the BBC is trying to turn EastEnders into Hollyoaks with so many youngsters, and everyone’s having affairs and beating people up."

EastEnders airs Monday to Thursday on BBC One and BBC iPlayer at 7.30pm

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