Fury as Dennis Waterman admits: I'm a wife-beater

Actor 'trivialising domestic violence' after TV confession he punched Rula Lenska

Dennis Waterman has admitted beating his former wife in a candid television interview that has caused outrage after critics accused him of trivialising domestic violence.

After years of denying he had been abusive, the television actor confessed to punching his first wife, Rula Lenska, on two occasions, before adding: "She certainly wasn't a beaten wife, she was hit and that's different."

His words provoked an instant barrage of criticism with women's refuge groups lambasting the actor for trying to downplay his violence and make excuses for his outbursts.

The 64-year-old New Tricks star detailed his turbulent marriage to Lenska during an interview with Piers Morgan's Life Stories series, which will be broadcast next month on ITV. The marriage broke down in 1998 amid accusations from the Polish-born actress that he had become a violent drunk.

Mr Waterman has always denied the allegations. But in his most recent interview, he came clean, admitting he had been violent because he had struggled to win arguments with his "strong, intelligent" former wife."We were going through a horrible time and arguing a lot," he said.

"The problem with strong, intelligent women is that they can argue, well. And if there is a time where you can't get a word in... and I... I lashed out. I couldn't end the argument. Something must have brought it on. When frustration builds up and you can't think of a way out... It happened and I'm very, very ashamed of it."

He tried to excuse his behaviour by stating: "It's not hard for a woman to make a man hit her."

Teresa Parker, from Women's Aid, said: "Dennis Waterman's comment that 'It's not hard for a woman to make a man hit her' shows he has completely taken away responsibility for the fact that he made the choice to hit her. He could have walked away. Everybody feels frustrated and angry sometimes, but most people do not hit their partners and know that domestic violence is unacceptable."

Others voiced their disgust online. Fleet Street Fox, an anonymous tabloid journalist who writes a blog and was once a victim of domestic violence, accused Mr Waterman of downplaying the psychological damage caused by physical abuse. "Physically, I never had more than a bruise," she wrote yesterday. "But psychologically it took years to relearn the things everyone else takes for granted."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy