New Tricks and Minder star Dennis Waterman dies aged 74
Dennis Waterman, who starred in Minder, The Sweeney and New Tricks, has died aged 74.
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."
Waterman specialised in playing south London jack-the-lads, describing himself as “about as far removed from an intellectual actor as you can get”.
He found fame in the early 1970s starring as tough cop George Carter in The Sweeney, before his second long-running role as the likeable bodyguard Terry McCann in Minder.
More recently he played Gerry Standing in the BBC's New Tricks, about a group of crusty retired police officers set up to investigate unsolved crimes.
His co-stars in the original line-up were James Bolam, Alun Armstrong and Amanda Redman, and it became one of the most popular shows on British television.
Born on February 24, 1948, in Clapham, south London, Waterman attended the Corona Academy, a stage school in Ravenscourt Park after failing his 11-plus.
He enjoyed a stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and appeared as William in the BBC’s 1962 series based on the Just William books.
It led to a part in a series called Fair Exchange, which required him to work in Hollywood at the age of just 15.
In 1964, he appeared in the West End before joining the company at the Royal Court.
At around this time he began living with Penny Dixon, a former drama student who would become his first wife.
The Sweeney first aired in 1974, and it became a cult show that made Waterman a household name.
While making The Sweeney, Waterman began a relationship with the actress Patricia Maynard.
Their daughter Hannah was born in 1975; they married two years later, and had a second daughter, Julia, in 1979.
Waterman’s second memorable on-screen partnership was in the 1980s with Minder.
He starred as Terry McCann, the loyal and honest bodyguard to the unscrupulous salesman Arthur Daley (George Cole). The series ran until 1994.
Waterman was still married to Patricia Maynard when he became involved with Rula Lenska, who had starred in the television series of Rock Follies.
He left his wife and children and later married Lenska in 1987.
The marriage lasted 11 years before ending acrimoniously, with Lenska selling the story of her “violent marriage” to a tabloid.
Waterman later admitted that he had “lashed out” and added that he was “deeply ashamed”.
After divorcing Lenska, he married his fourth wife, Pamela Flint, in 2011.
He is survived by Ms Flint and his daughters.