The actor Dennis Waterman – who starred in the TV shows Minder, The Sweeney and New Tricks – has died at the age of 74.
Waterman starred as the bodyguard Terry McCann in Minder after first finding fame playing tough cop George Carter in The Sweeney.
A statement from his family said: “We are deeply saddened to announce that our beloved Dennis passed away very peacefully in hospital in Spain, on Sunday afternoon, with [his wife] Pam by his side.
“The family kindly ask that our privacy is respected at this very difficult time.”
Minder brought the criminal underworld of west London to millions of homes up and down the country.
Waterman also played Gerry Standing in the BBC’s New Tricks, which launched in 2004. He starred alongside James Bolam and Alun Armstrong as a cold-case squad who were often at odds with their detective boss, played by Amanda Redman. His other TV roles included ITV’s Where the Heart Is, The Canterbury Tales and Moses Jones, both for the BBC.
He became well-known for singing the theme songs to many of his shows, and was caricatured by David Walliams in Little Britain as a result.
His last film role was in Never Too Late in 2020, which was filmed in Australia.
The actor and comedian Matt Lucas was among those paying tribute.
“I grew up watching Dennis Waterman’s iconic performances in The Sweeney and Minder,” Lucas wrote in a tweet. “His guest appearance in our Little Britain Live show at Hammersmith Apollo – in which he hilariously duetted with David’s absurd impersonation of him – remains the absolute highlight of my career.”
Born in London, he was educated at the Corona Theatre schooland began his acting career at a young age. After a role for the Children’s Film Foundation, he was invited to join Stratford’s Royal Shakespeare Company. A role in the BBC’s adaptation of the Just William books followed.
He had been married several times, including to the actor Rula Lenska until 1998, and his daughter, Hannah, followed him into acting, landing a role in EastEnders as Laura Beale.
Broadcaster Kay Burley tweeted of Waterman: “A brilliant actor who was a staple on our screens throughout the 70s and 80s. Loved The Sweeney. Loved Minder more.”