Actor Dennis Waterman, who starred in TV shows including The Sweeney, Minder and New Tricks, has died aged 74. The star “passed away very peacefully in hospital in Spain”, his family has been announced.
A statement from his family said: “We are deeply saddened to announce that our beloved Dennis, passed away very peacefully at his home in Spain. The family kindly ask that our privacy is respected at this very difficult time.”
Those who had worked alongside Dennis took to social media to pay tribute to the actor, the Mirror reports, with Matt Lucas writing: “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. ” Another wrote: “Dennis Waterman has left us. What a fantastic talent and lovely man. Such a loss to the industry. RIP.”
Waterman starred as bodyguard Terry McCann in Minder and first found fame as tough nut cop George Carter in The Sweeney opposite John Thaw. He 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.
Minder was later revived by Channel 5 in 2009, but Waterman did not return for the new outing. 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 Theater 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 got 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 theater. 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 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.
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.
Celebrities who worked with Waterman have been among those paying tribute. Little Britain and Bake Off star Matt Lucas said: “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 duet with David’s absurd impersonation of him – remains the absolute highlight of my career. “