EastEnders actor Leslie Grantham has died aged 71

Eastenders actor Leslie Grantham, famous for playing 'Dirty' Den Watts, has died aged 71.

Friday, 15th June 2018, 1:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 3:33 pm
Leslie Grantham. Photo: PA Wire.
Leslie Grantham. Photo: PA Wire.

A statement from his representative said: "We formally announce the loss of Leslie Grantham, who passed away at 10.20am on the morning of Friday, June 15, 2018.

"His ex-wife and sons have asked for their privacy to be respected at this difficult time, and for there to be no approaches to them for information or comment.

"They will not be making any statements to the media.

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Leslie Grantham. Photo: PA Wire.

"They also ask that no photographs be taken of them in their grief.

"There will be a private funeral which will be attended by close family and friends only."

Grantham's death comes days after he was reported to be in a critical condition in the UK having returned from Bulgaria, where he had been living.

Grantham shot to fame playing Watts in EastEnders, originally from 1985 to 1989.

A 1986 Christmas Day episode drew an audience of more than 30 million viewers, who watched as Watts handed over divorce papers to on-screen wife Angie.

His character was apparently killed off in 1989 but made a shock return to Albert Square in 2003.

Anita Dobson, who played Grantham's on-screen wife Angie Watts in EastEnders, told BBC News that her former co-star was "the archetypal charming rogue".

She said: "He was a good-looking guy, he was a charmer, he was funny, he was a good actor. And he was fun to be around, we were good mates.

"But I think there's always that kind of look about him that you just didn't know what he was going to do next, and that was his ace in the hole, there was always that bit about him that was slightly unpredictable, which I liked and what gave him the edge on TV."

Dobson added: "I came from nothing, from the East End with no money, and Leslie, as you know, had a chequered life before EastEnders, but we sort of understood each other, we understood that life can be tough.

"And we were fortunate, we were catapulted to an exotic place, but we were playing real people, people that we knew and we loved it."