EastEnders actor Leslie Grantham, who played Dirty Den in the BBC soap, has passed away aged 71, it has been confirmed. This week, the soap star was being monitored by doctors after returning to the UK from Bulgaria. A representative for the actor told HELLO!: "We formally announce the loss of Leslie Grantham, who passed away at 10:20 am on the morning of Friday 15th June 2018. His ex-wife and sons have asked for their privacy to be respected at this difficult time, and for there to be no approaches to them for information or comment. "There will also be a private funeral which will be attended by close family and friends.
EastEnders star Leslie Grantham has passed away aged 71
Former co-star Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian Beale, released a statement, which read: "So sad to hear that Leslie has passed away. Many soap characters get called a legend but Les's Den Watts was more than that. He created one of the most watched and iconic pieces of British Television, over 30 million people watched as Den handed over divorce papers to Angie." The actor added: "He had a wicked and self-deprecating sense of humour and I have many fond memories not just from working with him on EastEnders but from playing against him on the Cricket field. My thoughts are with his family and friends."
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Leslie's character in the BBC soap EastEnders, Den Watts, made headlines over the years. One storyline helped the BBC soap pull in its biggest-ever audience, when more than 30 million viewers tuned in to see him hand over divorce papers to wife Angie on Christmas Day in 1986. Even now the episode is the fourth most watched show in British TV history, beaten by the 1966 World Cup final - which still has the highest audience figures 32.30 million viewers.
The actor first played Den from 1985 to 1989, he was then brought back from the dead over a decade later and was reunited with his on-screen daughter Sharon. Leslie also appeared in movie and theatre productions, but he'll always be best-remembered as one of Walford's iconic bad-boys. He left the UK after splitting with his wife of 31 years, Jane, in 2013. The couple share three grown-up children - Spike, Jake and Danny.