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EastEnders Wiki
EastEnders Wiki

Derek Harkinson made his first appearance on 29 November 2001. He is portrayed by Ian Lavender. He made his last appearance on 27 July 2017.


When Derek was twenty-two and he had just left the army and began teacher training, he was living in a flat in Deptford with Pip, his twenty year-old partner at the time. One day they had a break-in, Pip called the police as he thought they would help. When the police arrived they took statements from witnesses, then arrested Derek for gross indecency, as the homosexual age of consent was twenty-one at that time. Derek was sentenced to nine months and by the time he got out, Pip had married and would not acknowledge Derek when passing on the street.



Derek was introduced as an old school friend of Pauline Fowler. Since reuniting with Pauline, Derek started working at the Walford Community Centre and moved in with the Fowler family as their lodger. There he became a father figure to Martin and taught him to drive. Pauline started to develop feelings for Derek and when she made a move at Derek he declined revealing to Pauline he is gay but this did not fracture there friendship and he stayed in Walford.

For four years until the character was axed in a culling in 2005. Derek's exit storyline came after multiple arguments with Pauline over living arrangements. Derek decided he needed a break from the Fowler household so he left to be with his family, Alex and Mary his children.


Derek returns to Walford eleven years later, joining the Walford Players to perform in their Christmas show. Kathy Sullivan notices Derek loitering around Ian Beale's house, where Pauline used to live, and confronts him, assuming he is from the council. Derek and Kathy meet again at Geraldine Clough's play rehearsal and Patrick Trueman introduces them to each other. Derek and Kathy are both cast as a pantomime horse in the Christmas play, and he sides with Kathy when Geraldine asks who should be the director. Derek is overjoyed at the prospect of directing the play but during rehearsals, he is forced to reprimand Dennis Rickman Jnr for watching Louise Mitchell and other girls undress. Much to Derek's disappointment, the first night of the performance isn't successful, after which, all the residents refuse to do the play any more. They eventually agree and the following performances are a success. After the show, Patrick fears that Derek fancies him and he feels uncomfortable when Derek invites him to stay with him and Alex. Patrick says he will think about it and Derek leaves Walford.

Derek returns a few months later to help Denise Fox with a meeting in the community centre. Derek and Denise organise an Easter fair and he tries to get Carmel and Denise talking again after they fall out. He accepts a job at the Minute Mart and irritates his co-worker, Honey Mitchell, when he makes fun of her display and constantly takes breaks. He annoys her further when they both attend Kim Fox-Hubbard's quiz night alongside Billy Mitchell and Derek has to join their team, but they win the quiz thanks to Derek's knowledge. When Derek confronts shoplifter Keegan Baker, Honey is pleased to have him working at the shop. While talking with Honey, Derek reveals that he has been chosen as the new face of the Minute Mart. Yolande Trueman then visits and asks to speak with Derek and she informs him that he could lose his job and be kicked out of the back to work programme for failing to disclose his criminal record. Derek has another run-in with Keegan when he tries to steal a magazine and Keegan throws the magazine at Derek and calls him a queer. When Honey leaves Derek in charge of the shop Yolande calls and tells him that he is sacked. Upset, Derek lashes out at Johnny Carter and berates him for not standing up to Keegan and tells him about the struggles of being a gay man while it was illegal. Johnny tracks Derek down at his flat and questions why he quit at the Minute Mart. Derek explains that he has a conviction that he failed to disclose from when he was younger as he had a boyfriend who was twenty, which was below the age of consent for homosexuals and that he was arrested and imprisoned for nine months. Johnny tells him that he can get pardoned for his conviction and Derek agrees. In December 2017, Honey mentions that Derek has left Walford and she is short staffed.

Background information[]

  • Derek being fired for failing to disclose a criminal conviction on a DBS check to the Minute Mart received criticism due to its inaccuracy, with critics noting that Derek’s prior conviction for gross indecency would have been considered spent, and that the Minute Mart would only be eligible to perform a basic DBS check on employees, which will not show spent convictions.