EastEnders legend Charlie Slater actor Derek Martin celebrates his 90th birthday with his sons | The Sun

EASTENDERS legend Derek Martin celebrates his 90th birthday surrounded by family.

Derek, who played Charlie Slater, looked thrilled as he posed with a huge birthday cake which was covered in fruit.

The actor, who was in the soap for 15 years, was joined by his two look-a-like sons David and Jonathan.

Derek playfully picked off a chunk of strawberry from the traditional-style cake.

The birthday boy was also joined by Carry On star Anita Harris.

The pair cosied up together, with Anita holding his hand as he slung his arm over her shoulders.

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His son David's battle with depression played a key part in Derek's return to Albert Square in 2016.

Like his real-life son, Derek's character was tackling mental health issues.

The storyline followed Stacey Branning's postpartrum psychosis and depression.

"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," he said at the time.

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

Charlie Slater was a cab driver who first arrived in Walford in 2000 with his mother-in-law Mo Harris and his four daughters Lynne, Kat, Little Mo, and Zoe as well as Lynne's boyfriend Gary Hobbs.

His late wife Viv Slater died a year before he first appeared on screen and was only shown in flashbacks when Kat attempted suicide and also in the spin-off episode Eastenders: Pat and Mo.

Charlie's biggest storylines included being charged with GBH for attacking Little Mo's rapist Graham Foster and locking him in his taxi.

When his great-niece Stacey Slater arrived on the scene he acted as a father figure and supported her through her bipolar disorder.

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

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

"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?'

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"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."

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