Dirty Den: EastEnders actor Leslie Grantham dies aged 71

Leslie Grantham dead

Leslie Grantham dead

EastEnders actor Leslie Grantham has died aged 71.

The actor appeared in EastEnders from 1985 to 1989, playing popular character "Dirty Den" in the soap, before later returning to the show in 2003. "I shall remember him very fondly and with affection".

Half of Britain's population, some 30 million people, watched a 1986 Christmas episode in which Den handed his wife divorce papers with the words "Happy Christmas, Ange". RIP big man. Loved working with you in panto, you made me laugh and I learnt a lot from you too.Absolutely gutted. See you up there Leslie!

Tracy, who starred as "Dirty" Den Watts' second wife Chrissie, wrote: "Really sorry to hear about Leslie Grantham. Love and respect always, Tish".

His agent said he died on Friday morning and that a private funeral will be held. "My heart goes out to his loved ones".

The announcer said: "And now on BBC One, with Leslie Grantham and soap's greatest bad boy "Dirty" Den in mind, we head to the Square".

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The announcement of his death comes after it was revealed earlier this week that the actor had flown back to the United Kingdom from Bulgaria - where he penned his debut children's book Jack Bates and The Wizard's Spell - to receive medical attention.

According to The Sun, close friends and pals in the showbiz industry had been visiting him in hospital this week.

Leslie moved out of the United Kingdom in 2015 after splitting from his wife Jane Laurie after 31 years of marriage, setting up home in Bulgaria.

He took up a career in acting after being released from prison, following a ten year stint for the death of a West German taxi driver in 1966.

He is thought to have been in Bulgaria to star in a TV series called "The English Neighbour".

In 2004, he was ensnared in a tabloid scandal after taking part in webcam sex sessions with an undercover reporter from his "EastEnders" dressing room.

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