Legendary EastEnders star Leslie Grantham has died at the age of 71.
The actor, who played soap villain Den Watts, had been surrounded by friends and co-stars, with earlier reports revealing he was being monitored by doctors in a UK hospital. Grantham, who had been living in Bulgaria, passed away on Friday morning (15 June).
His agent confirmed the news in a statement, adding that a private funeral would be held.
Grantham appeared in the soap’s very first episode in 1985, introduced as the landlord of the Queen Vic pub. He quickly earned the nickname “Dirty Den” for the many affairs he had while being married to long-suffering Angie (Anita Dobson).
Their most famous scene arrived in an episode which aired on Christmas Day 1986, which saw Den serve Angie divorce papers with the line, “Happy Christmas, Ange.” It was watched by 30 million viewers.
He was killed off in 1988, only to be resurrected in 2003 to the surprise of his adopted daughter Sharon (Letitia Dean). He would reach his ultimate demise in 2005 at the hands of his new wife, Chrissie (Tracy Ann Oberman).
As well as EastEnders, Grantham is best known for appearing as Melinda Messenger’s co-host on the game show Fort Boyard, in which he played the Master of the Fort who set the challenges the contestants must win.
Grantham, born in Camberwell in 1947, was convicted of murdering a German taxi driver in 1966 during an attempted robbery gone wrong. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and served 10 years in various British prisons.
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