BBC EastEnders original Martin Fowler star admits taunting replacement after soap exit

James Alexandrou was the original actor to play Martin Fowler on the BBC soap - and has admitted to secretly texting replacement star James Bye in order to 'wind him up'

James Alexandrou

Former EastEnders star James Alexandrou has confessed to tormenting James Bye – who replaced him as Martin Fowler on the long-running soap.

The 38-year-old soap star famously played Martin from 1996 until 2007 when he quit the role at the age of 21 in order to pursue other roles. The mantle was then passed to 39-year-old James Bye who started playing Martin in 2014 – and continues to play the character today.

Now James Alexandrou has revealed that he learned of his replacement’s casting before the rest of the world knew about it. So he started texting James Bye to send him unsettling message – before finally confessing to his motives.

Opening up on the Secure The Insecure Podcast, James Alexandrou explained that he learned about James Bye being cast to play Martin when his former co-star Natalie Cassidy, who has played Sonia Fowler on EastEnders since 1993, let slip. He admitted sending messages to his rival to make him panic.

james bye natalie cassidy

James Bye has played Martin Fowler on EastEnders since 2014 

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BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

He explained: “I found out old Jimmy Bye, James Bye had got the job. And so he was under contract not to, you know, NDA, not tell anyone that he’d been cast as Martin Fowler. I got his number off Natalie Cassidy, I think.

“So he didn’t know that I had his number and I just started winding him up for a week saying I know you’re going to the Square. He didn’t know who it was. I think he got a bit worried he was going to get in trouble.”

The original stat said that he then came clean and the two lads laughed about it. He explained: “I said, ‘Listen, it’s James Alexandrou. I’m really happy for you. You know, go do whatever you want with him and have fun’. And I think he’s done a great job.”

Despite quitting EastEnders over 17 years ago, James A also revealed he only just met James B recently at a showbiz event. Speaking about their meeting, he said: “I actually met him for the first time about a month ago, two months ago, and it was a really nice moment.”

After quitting EastEnders in 2007, James has gone on to appear in a string of other high-profile TV shows. He had a role in Casualty in 2015 and a recent role in Call the Midwife last year.

James Alexandrou played Martin Fowler

James Alexandrou played Martin Fowler 



The star has also made a return to Albert Square – but to feature behind the cameras. He said in the podcast: “I kind of did go back [to EastEnders] recently, I shadowed as a director. So what that means is you go and follow the director and see how they direct the show, and it just so happened that James Bye was on, on the day that I was shadowing. I didn’t know he knew I was there.

“I think he apparently caught wind of it, and he came on to do a scene and he kind of went, ‘Oh, it’s you’ and we just kind of had this strange moment. It was a really strange moment, because we don’t know each other at all, and the only thing that bonds us are these words on a page called Martin Fowler you know, that was a really nice moment.”

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