EastEnders has revealed the criminal secret Derek Harkinson has been hiding.
Earlier this week, we discovered Derek had failed to disclose a criminal record to his employers at the Minute Mart, which led to him getting the sack once they found out.
After an altercation with teen tearaway Keegan Baker where he was subjected to homophobic abuse, fans wondered what shaken Derek had kept to himself all these years.
In tonight’s episode, concerned Johnny Carter tracked Derek down where he finally opened up about his past.
At the age of 22, Derek was living with his partner Pip who, at 20, was under the age of homosexual consent at the time which was 21 (it was lowered to 18 in 1994, and 16 in 2001).
When a break-in led to the police coming to their flat and observing the couple’s living arrangement, in the eyes of the law Derek had committed a crime so found himself arrested for gross indecency – and sentenced to nine months in prison. By the time he got out Pip was married and didn’t want to know his former lover.
Branded a ‘pervert’ at the time, Derek was unable to continue with his intended career as a teacher, and retreated into the closet for years.
Sympathetic Johnny was shocked as Derek recounted his story (the social commentary on changing attitudes towards the gay community over the decades wasn’t lost on Mr Carter) and announced he was leaving Walford.
In tomorrow’s episode, Johnny enlists Patrick Trueman’s help to persuade Derek to stay – but can they convince him? Or will this tragic secret drive him away?
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of EastEnders below.
And visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.