EastEnders original Martin Fowler star returns to soap 17 years after exit

James Alexandrou made his name as a child as EastEnders' Martin Fowler. Now 17 years after exiting the BBC soap, he has returned to Walford to learn another aspect of the industry

James Alexandrou has been busy back on the set of EastEnders 17 years after his exit – but not in a role you’d expect.

The 38-year old rose to fame as Martin Fowler after being cast in Albert Square in 1996. The troublesome son of the BBC soap’s icons, Arthur and Pauline Fowler, James’ character was involved in several major storylines including fathering a child with Sonia Jackson as teenagers, before accidentally killing her fiancé, Jamie Mitchell.

He quit the show in 2007, however, citing his desire to “experience other aspects of my industry” as a 21-year old, with bosses tying in his exit with that of his Sonia co-star, Natalie Cassidy. James went on tour the country in a variety of theatre roles and is now learning the ropes as a director – which prompted his Walford return.

Speaking on Johnny Seifert’s Secure The Insecure mental health podcast, James spoke of his experience on the other side of the cameras, and a chance meeting with James Bye, who took over his Martin role when the character was reintroduced in 2014.

EastEnders' original Martin Fowler star has opened up on his 'return' to the show
EastEnders’ original Martin Fowler star has opened up on his ‘return’ to the show (Image: Piers
“I kind of did go back [to EastEnders ] recently, I shadowed as a director, so I went, I got, so what that means is you go and follow the director and see how they, they direct the show, and it just so happened that James Bye was on, on the day that I was shadowing, so I didn’t know that he knew I was there,” he told host, Johnny.

“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, you know, he’s like, Oh, it’s you, and we just kind of had this, it was a 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, and it was a really, that was a really nice moment.”

James Alexandrou joined EastEnders in 1996
James Alexandrou joined EastEnders in 1996 (Image: BBC)

James went on to describe the “intensity” of directing and revealed it would have been “amazing” to have been trained in that line of work. He also joked that he would have particularly enjoyed bossing around his old pal, Natalie.

“It’s the most intense arena for a director to be in,” James explained And you’re dealing with tons of actors, tons of different actors. You shoot about, I mean, just, you might not know this, but, you know, something like Enders, you might shoot some 25 or 30 pages a day on a film you might be shooting two.

“You know, so it’s like the intensity is like that much more. It would have been amazing training as a director to do. And I’m like a kind of nostalgia thing going back. And I think I’d have a lot of fun doing it. You know, I just have to demand that I would have to direct Natalie Cassidy because that would be the most fun thing to do.”

James embarked on a career in theatre after leaving EastEnders
James embarked on a career in theatre after leaving EastEnders (Image: Can Nguyen/REX/Shutterstock)

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James closed the conversation by pondering the prospect of returning as Martin one day in the future, but perhaps viewers shouldn’t get their hopes up too much. “Coming back as Martin I don’t know. I don’t know,” he revealed. “That door’s closed in my head.

“Maybe if the door was open, if James Bye said, listen, I’m gone and I don’t want to do it again, then I’d go, yeah, maybe like a special one off Christmas thing. That might be funny to do that.”

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/

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