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James Bye as Martin Fowler (2014)
|First appearance||Episode 49|
6 August 1985
|Introduced by||Julia Smith (1985)|
Dominic Treadwell-Collins (2014)
|Occupation||Market trader (fruit and veg) |
Chip shop worker
James Alexandrou as Martin Fowler (2007)
Martin Fowler is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders. The character was played by Jon Peyton-Price from the character's introduction 1985 until 1996, and by James Alexandrou from 1996 until 2007. When Alexandrou took over the role, the character was seen more regularly and was featured in prominent storylines such as sleeping with Sonia Jackson (Natalie Cassidy) and getting her pregnant with their daughter Bex, hitting Jamie Mitchell (Jack Ryder) with his car, being imprisoned for Jamie's death, marrying Sonia and having a problematic marriage, and coping with his brother Mark Fowler (Todd Carty) and his mother Pauline Fowler (Wendy Richard) dying. Alexandrou quit the role in 2006, and Martin departed on 2 February 2007.
In October 2014, it was announced that series producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins decided to reintroduce Martin, with the role being recast to James Bye and Martin returned on 5 December 2014. He took a break from the show on 2 August 2019 as part of Stacey’s temporary exit storyline but returned on 4 October 2019. Since his return in 2014, Martin has divorced Sonia, married Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner), discovered that Stacey's baby Arthur is actually the son of his best friend Kush Kazemi (Davood Ghadami), survived a bus crash, assaulted a police officer which resulted in a small prison sentence as punishment, the premature birth of his daughter Hope Fowler, discovering that Stacey cheated on him with her former father-in-law Max Branning (Jake Wood) which leads to them briefly spitting up before repairing their marriage, feuding with Kush and Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace) over the custody of Arthur, supporting his daughter Bex through her suicide attempt, being blackmailed into committing crimes for Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) and ending his marriage to Stacey in attempts to protect her and their children against the death threats made towards them by Ben.
When Pauline and Arthur tell Pauline's mother Lou Beale (Anna Wing) that Pauline is pregnant, Lou is furious because they have two teenage children, Mark Fowler (David Scarboro) and Michelle Fowler (Susan Tully), and Arthur is unemployed. Lou gives them the choice of either giving the child up for adoption, having an abortion or the family moving out of her home, but she is won round when the family organise a holiday for her to Clacton. The baby’s first christening is postponed when he is diagnosed with gastroenteritis and Lou is delighted when he is finally christened Martin Albert Fowler. When Pauline discovers Arthur had an affair with Christine Hewitt (Elizabeth Power), she bans Arthur from seeing Martin, but they reconcile. Arthur dies when Martin is ten, who then befriends a small gang of young criminals from his local school; a series of petty thefts, burglaries and vandalism culminates in his being arrested. Martin is placed under the supervision of a social worker.
Martin has a brief relationship with Nicky di Marco (Carly Hillman), but she refuses to have sex with him. Martin turns to Sonia Jackson (Natalie Cassidy) after Nicky dumps him. Sonia is feeling vulnerable, and after getting drunk, they lose their virginities to each other; she becomes pregnant. Sonia gives birth to daughter Chloe Jackson and she decides to give Chloe up for adoption. When she names Martin as the father, a feud erupts between the Jacksons and the Fowlers, with Pauline demanding custody of the baby instead of her being adopted. This leads to a court hearing where Sonia asks that baby Chloe be returned to her and she will raise her with her boyfriend, Jamie Mitchell (Jack Ryder), if Martin asks for custody with Pauline to support him. However, the judge rules that the adoption should go ahead when Martin admits that he does not want to be a father. Martin's deviancy continues when he takes drugs provided by Nick Cotton (John Altman), which leads to Martin's brother Mark (now Todd Carty) taking revenge and leaving Nick temporarily paralysed.
Martin receives a six-month prison sentence after driving the car that hit Jamie, causing his death. However, he only serves two months, being let out early for good behaviour. Once released, Martin resumes his criminal lifestyle by robbing a shop, blackmailing Kareena Ferreira (Pooja Shah) and growing cannabis in his late father's shed, assisted by his best friend, Asif Malik (Ashvin Luximon). This leads to family friend Derek Harkinson (Ian Lavender) taking the blame when the police find out, as Martin cannot risk trouble with the law, due to his previous convictions. It is not until Martin is confronted and forgiven by a bereaved Sonia that he finally begins to feel remorse for his actions and attempts to reform himself.
After a few brief relationships, including a one-night stand with Kelly Taylor (Brooke Kinsella), Martin begins growing close to Sonia, and they fall in love. After Sonia helps him come to terms with the death of his brother, Martin decides to propose marriage. Amidst constant interference from Pauline, Martin and Sonia decide to elope. The newlyweds move in with Pauline but she puts constant strain on their marriage with her meddling. Several months later, Martin unwittingly puts his marriage in jeopardy when he encounters Sarah Cairns (Alison Pargeter). After passing out drunk at Sarah's house, she claims that Martin slept with her and begins stalking him. When Martin physically threatens her, she calls the police and has him arrested before revealing their "affair" to Sonia. Sarah's plan is thwarted however, as Sonia refuses to leave her husband. After admitting that their affair is a lie, Sarah stabs Martin with a kitchen knife but Sonia hits her over the head with Pauline's fruit bowl. Sarah is committed to a mental institution and Martin and Sonia put the incident behind them.
Pauline's influence over Martin starts putting a strain on his marriage. Things worsen when Sonia finds out that Martin and Pauline have been visiting her and Martin's daughter (now named Rebecca) against her wishes. Their marriage breaks down, due to Sonia's affair with a fellow student, Naomi Julien (Petra Letang). Martin is devastated but she soon regrets it when Martin is given custody of their daughter following the death of her legal guardian and they frequently exclude her from Rebecca's life. Martin tries to move on by dating Carly Wicks (Kellie Shirley) briefly, stirring up some jealousy in Sonia. Immediately after they divorce, they begin to regret it and sleep together. They then secretly reunite and hope to keep it from Pauline but she eventually finds out and they argue. Pauline prepares to leave but the house catches fire, and Martin saves her. Pauline then claims that she is dying from a brain tumour. In fact, she is faking it to make sure that Martin ends his relationship with Sonia, which he eventually does. However, Martin is stunned when it is revealed that Pauline has been lying.
When Martin discovers that his mother is leaving for the United States on Christmas Day, he tries to persuade her to stay, but her decision is final. On Christmas Day, Martin proposes to Sonia again and she accepts, but later that day he discovers his mother's dead body in the Square. Martin believes Joe murdered her, but Sonia confesses that she is responsible, as she had hit her earlier. After they fight, the police arrive and Sonia is arrested on suspicion of murder. She is released and he forbids her to see Rebecca. Pauline's post-mortem results are announced and Martin is told that Pauline's death was caused by a severe blow to the head. Sonia goes on the run with Rebecca, leaving Martin devastated. Sonia and Rebecca soon return and Martin calls the police to arrest her. It is later revealed that Joe killed Pauline. When Pauline's will is read, she gives Martin possession of the house but only if he does not live with Sonia. Martin and Sonia reunite anyway and they, Rebecca and Pauline's dog, Betty, leave Walford together. It is later revealed they are touring the USA, staying with Martin's sister, Michelle.
Sonia returns to Walford alone for her sister Bianca Jackson's (Patsy Palmer) wedding. Initially Sonia says that Martin and Rebecca are fine, but then tells her mother Carol Jackson (Lindsey Coulson) that she and Martin are having problems in their marriage. Sonia reveals that she and Rebecca are living in Dagenham and that Martin now has a new girlfriend in Manchester. Sonia returns to Walford and admits that she and Martin still have marital problems.
Martin returns to Walford to support Sonia on the evening of her Fat Blasters' Christmas party, but arrives late and discovers she has collapsed due to complications with a gastric band she got in Bulgaria. Sonia tells Martin that she had the operation as she felt he was not attracted to her any longer and he later recognises that they do not love each other and they separate, with Martin returning to Dagenham. Martin returns to Walford for the wedding of his cousin Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt). He, Stacey Branning (Lacey Turner) and Kush Kazemi (Davood Ghadami) discover Nick's dead body at number 23 (recreating the first ever scene of EastEnders). After agreeing not to speak of the matter, they discover that Nick's mother Dot Branning (June Brown) has called the police and confessed that she has killed him. After walking Stacey home, he tries to kiss her but she rejects him. He later returns while Ian and his wife Jane Beale (Laurie Brett) are on their honeymoon, staying at their house and catches Cindy Williams (Mimi Keene) having sex with Liam Butcher (James Forde and decides to keep an eye on her. He manages to convince his and Sonia's daughter, now calling herself Bex (Jasmine Armfield) to come to Walford, where she reveals her new look as a Goth. He also attends Donna Yates' (Lisa Hammond) birthday party with Kush and their friends from football. He tries to kiss Donna for a bet but ends up getting into a fight with Arthur "Fatboy" Chubb (Ricky Norwood). He also confides in Kush that he thinks he and Sonia could get their marriage back on track but then spots Sonia kissing her new girlfriend, Tina Carter (Luisa Bradshaw-White). He later argues with Sonia in The Vic after revealing the truth about her and Tina and tells Bex that Sonia is a lesbian, making her reject Sonia. After Martin and Sonia have a meaningful conversation about their relationship, he sends Bex to live with Sonia. It is later revealed that Martin is homeless and sleeping in the back of his van. Alfie Moon (Shane Richie) tells Ian of Martin's troubles and Martin moves in with Ian and later tells Sonia that he has lost their house in Dagenham. After filing for divorce, Martin rents a flat with Stacey and her daughter Lily Branning (Aine Garvey) and they start dating, which gets serious despite Stacey's lingering feelings for Kush. Their relationship progresses as Martin and Sonia's divorce comes through and Martin researches bipolar disorder.
When Martin finds out that Stacey is pregnant, he initially wants her to book a termination but later supports her decision to keep the baby. She discovers he is planning to propose and says she does not want to marry again, so he proposes a commitment without marriage, and she accepts. Stacey is electrocuted by a faulty socket that Lee Carter (Danny-Boy Hatchard) failed to repair properly so Martin punches him and threatens to kill him if the baby dies as a result. At the hospital, Martin finds out she is okay and the baby is a boy. When Stacey is discharged, Martin announces tells everyone in The Vic that the baby is a boy and invites Lee and Whitney to join him, Stacey, Kush, and Shabnam Masood (Rakhee Thakrar) for lunch. He apologises for hitting Lee and forgives him for the incident. Shabnam discovers that Martin is not the father of Stacey's baby, but she and Kush decide not to tell Martin. When Stacey's son is born on Christmas Eve, Martin names him Arthur Fowler, after his father. Two weeks later, Kat Moon (Jessie Wallace) discovers that Martin is not Arthur's father and when Stacey and Arthur go missing, Martin and Kush grow concerned and try to find her. Martin eventually finds Stacey on the roof of The Vic. She claims that Arthur is the son of God and that God will rescue them from what she thinks are demons. Martin, believing it is a symptom of her unmedicated bipolar, goes along with what her and convinces her to come home with him. On the day of Charlie's funeral, Stacey is upset that she did not get to the church so God could give her a message. She does not allow Martin near Arthur and smashes glass cups to protect them. When Stacey goes to Kush and Shabnam's for safety, Martin persuades her that she is safe with him. He takes her to hospital and after Stacey speaks to a psychologist, Martin learns that there are no mother and baby units and that Stacey will have to be sectioned. Martin breaks the news to Stacey and is later informed Stacey is suffering from postpartum psychosis. When Martin visits Stacey, he realises that she needs to see Arthur and tries to find a hospital with a mother and baby unit. Kush convinces Martin to have a night out and deliberately leaves his phone behind. When Martin returns, he discovers he missed a call about a mother and baby unit and has missed out. Martin punches Kush and they fight, leading Kush to admit that he has ruined everything. Martin travels to find another mother and baby unit the following day, taking Arthur with him while doing so. Sonia and Bex learn that Martin and Arthur were involved in a car crash on their way home.
Martin discharges himself from hospital, worried that he will miss Stacey's medical review but he has already missed it. He visits Stacey after discovering she has chosen to stay in hospital, where she says that everyone is better off without her, asking him to raise Arthur and Lily the way she wanted. He realises she feels that way because she is in hospital, and vows to break her out. Stacey refuses and the doctor tells him to go home and rest. Martin finds a mother and baby unit for Stacey in Essex and takes her and Arthur there. A nurse hands him a letter Stacey left behind and he reads it at home, discovering that Arthur is Kush's son. He visits Stacey and tells her he knows the truth. She begs for his forgiveness, but he leaves and goes to America, returning a few weeks later. He sees Kush and immediately punches him. He tells Sonia he is only collecting his belongings. When under pressure by those denouncing him for abandoning Arthur, Martin publicly reveals that Kush is Arthur's father. As Martin is about to leave for the airport, Kush promises to be a good father but assures Martin that he will always be the real father no matter what, Martin goes to the mother and baby unit and reunites with Stacey and Arthur. During Stacey's first home visit, Martin is annoyed when Stacey's half-brother Kyle Slater (Riley Carter Millington) returns but after Kyle tells Stacey he is transgender, she invites Kyle to live with them and Martin, not knowing the truth, reluctantly agrees. When Martin and Stacey reconcile, Stacey proposes to Martin and he accepts. They also tell Kush that he can be a part of Arthur's life, but Kush later says he no longer wants this.
When Kat stops paying Stacey's rent, Martin sets up his own market stall but some of his merchandise is faulty and he is forced to issue refunds, though is unable to get a refund himself. Andy Flynn (Jack Derges) assists Martin by getting him some work in Sunderland for two weeks. Martin accepts this, but when he returns, Stacey is underwhelmed with the funds he has collected; he insists more is being transferred soon. Andy later tells Martin he knows he was fired from the job and is lying to Stacey. Andy tells Stacey, so Martin explains that he was underqualified for the position. Martin asks Andy for more work, so Andy says that 40 toilets were delivered in error to the flats he is renovating and they could sell them and split the profits. Martin agrees and with Stacey and Kyle's help, they successfully steal them. When Stacey learns her cousin Belinda Peacock (Carli Norris) is trying to sell them back to Jack, Martin, Stacey, Kyle and Belinda put them back. Following Peggy Mitchell's (Barbara Windsor) death, Stacey tells Martin she cannot get married, but she changes her mind. Martin and Stacey marry at the registry office. When Sonia moves away, Bex moves in with Martin and Stacey and the family then move into Sonia's old house, but Kyle and Belinda then both move away. Later, Martin is furious when he finds out that Bex's boyfriend and Kush's younger brother, Shakil Kazemi (Shaheen Jafargholi) has ended his relationship with Bex immediately after having sex with her. He attacks Shakil in the market and announces his actions to everyone but this humiliates Bex. He apologises to Bex and Stacey and later comforts Bex.
Martin is unhappy when Stacey's former flame Max Branning (Jake Wood) returns to Walford after being wrongly accused of murdering Lucy Beale (Hetti Bywater) and he and Stacey grow close. Martin tells Stacey he is worried about Max's motives for coming back and informs her that Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) bribed the juror of Max's trial to find him guilty, which Stacey later tells Max. Martin discovers that the market is being moved and attempts to get the market traders to strike. A bus crashes into the market and Martin is trapped under it. He tells Stacey he loves her, presuming he will not survive, but is rescued by a group of people who lift the bus so he can be moved. At the hospital, Martin agrees to having a baby with Stacey.
Bex starts to be bullied at school when a nude photo that Shakil took of himself and sent to Bex is distributed around the school from Bex's phone, though Louise Mitchell (Tilly Keeper), Alexandra D'Costa (Sydney Craven) and Madison Drake (Seraphina Beh) are the ones who sent it. Shakil's friend Keegan Baker (Zack Morris) takes revenge by distributing a pornographic clip with Bex's face imposed on the model's body, which Martin eventually discovers. The police become involved as the video is considered an indecent image of a minor, and the photo of Shakil is discovered. Bex takes the blame for it, covering for Alexandra and Madison, who have threatened her. When Martin sees Carmel and Shakil at the school, Martin brand Shakil dirty and threatens violence against him if he ever sees him again. Martin then grounds Bex due to her actions, and refuses to let Carmel see Arthur due to Shakil's behaviour, prompting a fight between him, Kush, Carmel, and Stacey at their house. The police then arrive, and reveal the news that Bex also had topless selfies of herself on her phone, which though she had deleted and not shared, were backed up to the cloud. Martin's phone is also confiscated as a result. Devastated, he insists that Bex will not be allowed to have her phone back and that she is banned from social media. However, Bex soon becomes a victim of bullying at the hands of Alexandra and Madison. Martin soon starts to talk to Bex and reminds her about how being responsible for Jamie's death has made him the person he is now and that she should not let anyone talk negatively about her no matter the situation. Bex starts a relationship with Preston Cooper (Martin Anzor), Michelle's former teenage student from America, not knowing that Michelle is having a secret relationship with him, which is the main cause of losing contact with her own family. Bex eventually discovers their affair and publicly exposes them. A disgusted Martin disowns Michelle as a result and bans her from his life. Stacey attempts to get Martin and Michelle to reconcile but this fails. Stacey also tells Martin she is pregnant. Sonia arrives back in Walford after Bex phones her in tears due to her bullying and Bex tells her family what has happened with Madison and Alexandra. Sonia tells Martin she wants Bex to live with her, but Bex stays with Martin and Stacey.
During a Walford in Bloom event, a gas leak causes an explosion in the Square and Martin panics when he cannot find Stacey. He attempts to push past a police officer but when they try and hold him back, Martin pushes one over, resulting in him getting arrested just as it is revealed that Stacey is safe. Martin receives a four-week sentence, two weeks of which he must spend in prison. When Stacey visits him in prison, she is horrified to find that Martin has bruises on his torso, as a result of bullying. While Martin is in prison, Stacey discovers that Arthur is at high risk of having Brugada's Syndrome, a heart condition inherited from Kush. This results in Stacey being disorganised and short-tempered. Martin returns home to find Stacey arguing with Carmel after the former has hurt Lily. Martin is worried when Stacey tells him about Arthur's health risk. When he sees what this is doing to Stacey, he confides in Michelle that their unborn baby could be the biggest mistake of their lives. Stacey overhears and angrily tells Martin to leave if he is not able to love Arthur and Lily and their unborn child the same. However, Martin assures Stacey that he will love all their kids equally. Martin, Kush, Carmel and Stacey are agitated when Arthur has to be hospitalised when Bex finds him in a lifeless state. Carmel is alarmed to find that Arthur fainted due to consuming Stacey's bipolar pills. She is horrified to discover that Arthur has bruises on his arm, although this is from other kids yanking him at the hospital. Lily tells Carmel that Stacey caused Arthur's bruises, prompting Carmel to inform Social Services. However, Carmel soon realises her mistake. After an unsuccessful attempt from Carmel at resting the issue, Social Services turn up at Martin and Stacey's house and inform them that Lily and Arthur need to be removed for the night, leaving Martin and Stacey heart-broken. They eventually get Arthur back, but Stacey is enraged when she finds out that Carmel phoned Social Services, and this leads to the premature birth of their daughter, Hope.
When Max is rejected by the community for conning people out of their businesses for the redevelopment of the Square, Stacey is one of the few people that offers him support. She invites him to stay in their house, much to Martin's displeasure. His insecurity leads to him telling Stacey that Max is not welcome in the house. On Christmas Eve, Stacey and Max have sex. When Stacey sees Max's daughters, Lauren (Jacqueline Jossa) and Abi (Lorna Fitzgerald), fall from The Vic roof, she is instantly reminded of her former husband Bradley Branning's (Charlie Clements) death. Martin tries to calm her down, and though he suspects something happened between Stacey and Max, he tells Stacey they should carry on as normal. However, Stacey says that if they do not talk, their relationship cannot survive, so she admits to having sex with Max, later explaining that she did so as she and Martin never have time for themselves and she is left to manage the house. Martin refuses to talk to Stacey about it so it does not ruin Christmas for their children and that he will not accept blame for her actions, saying she should leave if it is going to destroy their family. However, Martin later decides to make up with Stacey after speaking to Ted Murray (Christopher Timothy), but finds the house empty and a goodbye note from Stacey, saying she is leaving Walford with Lily, Arthur and Hope to stay with her mother Jean Walters (Gillian Wright). A dejected Martin ends up spending New Year's Eve alone in his house and the next day, confronts Max about sleeping with Stacey but declines to punch him, saying revenge doesn't help. However, Martin later punches Max but admits that he still doesn't feel right about it and that he only did it for Carmel, whom Max also used and slept with. Stacey returns a few weeks later and when Stacey is out, Martin accuses her of being with Max when it turns out she is not with Whitney. Stacey and Martin argue and when Martin suggests Stacey was with Max due to Abi's death, she slaps him. Stacey thinks the marriage is broken and tells Martin he should move out, accusing him of hurting her; he is hurt Stacey does not regard Lily and Arthur as his children, but he angrily throws her out and exposes her affair with Max. Martin keeps the children inside, away from Stacey, though the pair support each other briefly when Lily holds Hope by the upstairs window, asking for Stacey. Martin rejects Stacey when she says the children need her and he decides he will not let Stacey near the children. Martin decides to go for custody and when Kush finds out, he urges Stacey and Martin to resolve their problems, but he has a turn. Martin meets with Stacey to attempt to fix their marriage, but Martin decides to give up, but offers Stacey contact and Stacey contacts Ryan to help her, however she decides to call Whitney and asking her help. Whitney lets Stacey into the house and a locksmith changes the locks, devastating Martin. Martin is not happy when Stacey seemingly changes her mind about Martin looking after the children for the night, but he refuses to look after Hope when Stacey offers as he suspects she will see Max. A woman named Hayley) (Katie Jarvis) takes photos of Martin and Stacey and her neighbour Arshad Ahmed (Madhav Sharma) stops Stacey from taking her children to Brighton when she argues with Martin, but Martin finds out from Jean that Stacey had not planned to go to Brighton. Martin and Stacey take Arthur out to see a show to sort out access and Martin is annoyed that Stacey has invited Kush, deciding that it has to be that way and Martin decides to file for divorce, despite Kush figuring out that Stacey may have enjoyed herself with Martin without his presence. Stacey arranges a childcare rota as an apology to Martin, but after sending an email to his solicitor to file for divorce, Martin attempts to delete his solicitor's email to Stacey, but Stacey seemingly accepts his apology, though later she contacts someone and decides to involve her solicitor. Stacey is devastated when Mo Harris (Laila Morse) returns to Walford with the news Kat is dead and Martin sets up a crowdfunding page for Kat's funeral as Stacey cannot afford it. Stacey thanks Martin and kisses him, which then turns to passion between them.
Creation and development
In the first episode, it is revealed that Pauline Fowler (Wendy Richard), aged 40, is pregnant with her third child. The character's pregnancy quickly became a prominent storyline within the series. Pauline, against her mother Lou Beale (Anna Wing)'s opposition, is determined to keep the baby. The storyline was used to spread a public message on the increased risk of genetic defects in late pregnancies, with Pauline undergoing amniocentesis tests. The storyline culminates with the birth of the serial's first baby, Martin, in August 1985.
Martin started out as a "quiet child", but later grew into a "hooligan" who was always getting into trouble. In spite of his special status as baby of the Fowler family, Martin wasn't cushioned from the harsh realities of life. He grew up in the shadow of his father's mental breakdown and imprisonment, his parents' temporary separation, the premature death of his father and later his brother's death from a AIDS related illness. Indeed, it was Arthur's death that sent Martin over the edge, taking him down the path of petty crime.
Return and recast (2014)
On 12 October 2014, it was announced that James Bye has taken over the role. Executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins explained that the recast took place with Alexandrou's blessing. He also said, "Our casting executive Julia Crampsie has found a genuine relatable London bloke in the talented James Bye—we are sure that viewers old and new will soon warm to Martin Fowler's charms as he returns home to Walford." Lee Ryan also auditioned for the role of Martin in 2014 and read for the role with Lacey Turner, who portrays Martin's love interest Stacey Branning. In 2017, Ryan was cast as Woody Woodward.
- Brake, Colin, p. 28
- Wiggins, p. 118
- "BBC One – EastEnders – Martin Fowler". Retrieved 1 November 2019.
- "EastEnders recasts Martin Fowler: James Bye to take over role". Digital Spy. 12 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- "Blue singer Lee Ryan initially auditioned for the recast part of Martin Fowler in EastEnders". Digital Spy. 11 April 2017. Retrieved 11 April 2017.