If you watch 'EastEnders', you'll recognise Derek Martin as lovelorn cabbie Charlie Slater who was finally killed off in 2016, after 700+ episodes and even a spin-off, 'Slaters In Detention'. And if you don't watch 'EastEnders', you'll recognise him from dozens of cop series, gangster dramas and comedies, stretching back to the '60s.
|Cutting up rough in an episode of 'The Professionals'|
Despite having little formal drama training, Londoner Derek Martin has been ubiquitous in no-nonsense roles across British television for decades. Leaving his job at Smithfield meat market and starting as a stuntman and extra, he soon proved to be more than capable with dialogue and gradually built a reputation as reliable casting for heavies, coppers, soldiers and security guards.
|An uncredited appearance in the 'Doctor Who'|
adventure 'The Claws Of Axos' from 1971
|In 'The Curse Of Fendahl', a classic Tom Baker 'Who' from 1977 |
An idea of this trajectory can be seen from his long involvement with 'Doctor Who'. Cast in no fewer than nine adventures from 1965 onwards, he was an uncredited extra until 1977's 'The Curse Of Fendahl'. A conscious decision to move away from stunt work and into speaking roles paid off after much effort and application. The long upwards haul included appearances in 'No Hiding Place', 'Adam Adamant Lives!', 'Z-Cars', 'Softly Softly', 'Terry & June', 'Hart To Hart' (an episode shot in London), 'Target', 'Shoestring', 'Private Schultz', 'Minder' and 'Angels'.
|As a redcap in an episode of 'It Ain't Half Hot Mum' |
with the late Windsor Davies and Donald Hewlett
|As the bent copper DI Lyall in 'Law & Order' |
Big breaks came in the form of 'Law & Order' in 1978, a gritty police corruption drama featuring his soon-to-be 'EastEnders' colleague Peter Dean. He also played David Yip's guvnor DCI Berwick in 'The Chinese Detective' and Janet McTeer's cynical deputy in the prison drama 'The Governor'.
A TV stalwart and deserving of a salute.