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Actor Dennis Waterman – who starred in TV shows Minder, The Sweeney and New Tricks – has died at the age of 74, it has been announced.
Waterman starred as bodyguard Terry McCann in Minder and he first found fame as tough nut cop George Carter in The Sweeney opposite John Thaw.
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 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 played Gerry Standing in the BBC’s New Tricks, and throughout his career 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.
Born in London, he was educated at the Corona Theatre School, and began his showbiz career at a young age, and following a role for the Children’s Film Foundation, was invited to join Stratford’s Royal Shakespeare Company.
A role in the BBC’s adaptation of the Just William books followed, and the actor would, in his later years, reflect on some of the different roles he undertook.
In 2009, he starred in the BBC’s hard-hitting drama Moses Jones, a role which he said at the time, he enjoyed because it cast him in a different light.
“I really enjoyed it, because it was a very different kind of character – and that’s important. On television in Britain, I’m sort of the cheeky chappie, everybody’s mate, but I’ve never played anything like that in the theatre. It’s strange that you get cast as different things in different parts of the media,” he told PA at the time.
His role in 2004’s drama New Tricks marked his return to a long-running show for the first time in a decade and saw him star alongside acting stalwarts James Bolam and Alun Armstrong.
His character Gerry was part of the cold case squad, who were often at odds with their detective boss, played by Amanda Redman.
Minder was later revived by Channel 5 in 2009, but Waterman did not return for the new outing.
He had been married several times, including to the actress Rula Lenska until 1998, and his daughter, Hannah, became a TV star in her own right – landing a role in EastEnders as Laura Beale.
I grew up watching Dennis Waterman's iconic performances in The Sweeney and Minder. 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. pic.twitter.com/RsTrABh5Br
— Matt Lucas (@RealMattLucas) May 8, 2022
Actor and comedian Matt Lucas was among the people paying tribute to Waterman, writing in a tweet: “I grew up watching Dennis Waterman’s iconic performances in The Sweeney and Minder.
“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.”
Waterman’s extensive career also included numerous stints on the stage and he played Alfred Doolittle in a Royal National Theatre production of My Fair Lady, as well as starring in a tour production of Don’t Dress For Dinner.
The BBC’s chief content officer, Charlotte Moore, issued a statement on behalf of the corporation, saying: “We are incredibly sad to hear of the passing of Dennis Waterman, an unforgettable actor who will be missed by us all. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Waterman also starred in productions of Twelfth Night, Edward Bond’s Saved at the Royal Court Theatre and Sergeant Musgrave’s Dance.
His talents did not end with acting and he had a keen interest in music, having recorded albums and singles, including songs which charted in Australia, New Zealand and Britain.
He was also part of the popular tour, Friends On Tour, which saw him take to the road alongside Sheena Easton and Gerard Kenny.