Brimming with drama and a seemingly never-ending supply of unique and nail-biting medical situations, the BBC’s Casualty has long been a staple of Saturday night viewing.
Racking up an impressive 700 plus episodes and counting, the much-loved series began life in 1986, going on to scoop four BAFTAs, a National Television Award and even spawning its own spin-off series in Holby City.
Proudly laying claim to the title of ‘the longest-running emergency medical drama in the world’, Casualty still its coveted Saturday night primetime slot on BBC One, though in the past has also cropped up on a Friday, too.
Since this unstoppable juggernaut began, only one original character has remained loyal to the series. We know you know who that is – it’s the level-headed voice of reason and calm himself, Charlie Fairhead, played so admirably by the equally steadfast Derek Thompson.
Over the past 36 years some original cast members have returned to the series for unique episodes and tragic deaths, while some have appeared as completely new characters!
So without further ado, pull up a chair (there’s no long waiting time here) and let’s take a peek at what the original cast members are up to these days …
Cathy Shipton – Lisa ‘Duffy’ Duffin
Who didn’t like Duffy? That’s right, nobody. A matriarchal character who just always came across as being so trustworthy and caring. The much-loved nurse’s first stint on the show was from 1986 all the way through to 1993.
She then returned in 1998 before departing again in 2003, although you may remember she had a habit of making the odd guest appearance in both Casualty and Holby City.
Actress Cathy Shipton triumphantly returned to Casualty in 2016 as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations and helicopter crash. During her time in the hospital drama, Duffy has held the roles of ward sister, senior ward sister, staff nurse and senior staff nurse.
The character wed Charlie in 2017, but she tragically died from hypothermia in the snow in 2020. Aside from her stellar stint in the world’s longest-running drama, Cathy has enjoyed roles in emergency daytime TV favorite Doctors, crime drama Taggart and police drama the Bill.
George Harris – Clive King
Holding the unenviable title of being “the first original character to leave the show”, George Harris left Casualty after just one series. But he obviously loved his time on the program as he returned to Holby 18 years later – to play an entirely different character called Neville Newton, the father of murdered paramedic Fin.
Actor George has enjoyed some notable roles in his time, playing Captain Simon Katanga in Indiana Jones classic Raiders of the Lost Ark as well as Kingsley Shacklebolt in three of the Harry Potter films. He also appeared as real-life warlord Osman Atto in 2001’s Black Hawk Down, about the US military’s raid in Mogadishu, Somalia, and as a gangster in Layer Cake opposite a then soon-to-be James Bond Daniel Craig.
Derek Thompson – Charlie Fairhead
Widely known as ‘The Ken Barlow of Casualty’, as mentioned before, good old Derek Thompson has portrayed the warm and unflappable Charlie Fairhead since the very start.
My word, this longest-serving nurse of the Emergency Department has seen pretty much everything since 1986. Charlie’s had a few heart attacks, been held hostage and was even shot on duty. As is expected for someone with such a long tenure, Charlie has seen a lot of colleagues come and go, including his ex-wife and mother of his child Baz, good friends Tess and Martin and the tragic death of his wife Duffy.
Actor Derek gets a few months off filming every year, but the longest he has ever had away from Holby was a half-year sabbatical in 2004. Interestingly, his son appeared as Duffy’s baby in an episode of Casualty in 1990.
Christopher Rozycki – Kuba Trzincski
Before Robson Green had even heard of Holby, there was once a Polish hospital porter called Kuba Trzcinski, who starred in the first three series. Perfectly suited to the role, Kuba was kind, caring and astute – once even working out that a victim’s burns had clearly been caused by a gas leak. Actor Christopher left the role in 1988 and went on to feature in The Royal, The Bill and the 1990 film Truly Madly Deeply opposite Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman.
One of his final acting credits was as Nikolai Rostov in Downton Abbey in the fifth series. Sadly, Christopher died in 2015 after suffering a fall.
Robert Pugh – Andy Ponting
Forever furious that paramedics weren’t treated like other staff members, paramedic Andy was a memorable face in the series. He was married yet still thought it wise to embark on an affair with colleague Sandra, who foolishly left a note in his luncbox which was discovered by his suspicious wife. Andy confessed his love for Sandra, which in TV dramas often signifies that something bad is about to happen. Which, sure enough it did – she died from a stab wound later that episode.
Traumatized by the day’s events, Andy felt he could no longer be a paramedic and departed in 1987. Well-known actor Robert has enjoyed roles in the films Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World with Russell Crowe, Kinky Boots and Robin Hood. He has also enjoyed much success on the smaller screen, with roles in Doctor Who, Mr Selfridge, Midsomer Murders and as the wildling Craster in Game of Thrones.
You might also have heard his voice many times – perhaps without realising – for he is the narrator of The Repair Shop.
Brenda Fricker – Megan Roach
Ah the sweet, warm Irish tones of the lovely Megan Roach, are we feeling all nice and nostalgic yet? One of the most experienced members of staff, but the least technically qualified, Megan made a huge impact during her time on Casualty before bowing out in 1990.
She did return, however, for a double whammy of episodes in 1998 to attend Charlie and Baz’s wedding, as well as a Red Nose Day episode in 2007. Brenda made one final very distressing comeback in 2010 when her character took her own life with the help of Charlie and Tess to end her suffering.
A very talented actress, Brenda won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot and, of course, played the bizarre Pigeon Lady alongside Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone 2. She went on to appear in several other high- profile films, including Angels in the Outfield, A Time to Kill and So I Married an Ax Murderer with Wayne’s World’s Mike Myers. The Dublin-based actress retired from acting in 2014.
Debbie Roza – Susie Mercier
And the award for being the very first person to utter a word on Casualty goes to … Debbie Roza! The actress portrayed receptionist Susie Mercier, who starred in the show for a year before departing after the first series in 1986. Following her stint in A&E, Debbie embarked on a very different career path. She has now accrued more than 20 years’ experience in theater and museum marketing and resides in Canada. There she owns Lakewood Market Garden and works as a fund and community development coordinator at, aptly, the Victoria Order of Nurses.
Lisa Bowerman – Sandra Mute
It is an understatement to say Sandra had a tumultuous time in Casualty. First she embarked on an affair with fellow paramedic Andy, who was cheating on his wife, and suffered enormous guilt for dating a married man.
She then dumped Andy in favor of a jockey and a holiday in Wales. Then in 1987 she was stabbed by a drunkard in the ambulance where she pulled out the knife in panic, tragically dying despite the team’s best efforts to save her.
Actress Lisa went on to appear as a photographer in Grange Hill and a policewoman in EastEnders. She also enjoyed roles in Doctors, Hollyoaks and Coronation Street. She also followed in colleague George Harris’s footsteps by returning to Casualty in 2007 as a completely different character.
Lisa also has a long-running association with Doctor Who and its spin-offs, playing Karra in the final series of the original run and also voicing characters in the audio plays.
Bernard Gallagher – Ewart Plimmer
Always trying to keep things in order in Holby, Ewart Plimmer had the honor of being Casualty’s first ever consultant. Unfortunately the character died of a heart attack in October 1988, but did reappear in 2015. As another character, you might ask?
Well no, not on this occasion, Ewart made his comeback as part of a flashback sequence in 2015, much to viewers’ delight. Top drawer actor Bernard had a long and fruitful association with the National Theater and also went on to appear in Midsomer Murders, The Sweeney, Heartbeat and Bad Girls.
You may recall he cropped up in Downton Abbey as the gardener Bill Molesely from 2010 to 2013. The esteemed actor died in 2016 at the age of 87.