A rather beloved and famed British TV star just passed away to the dismay of his family, friends and fans.
“EastEnders” star Leslie Grantham died at age 71 on Friday in a United Kingdom hospital, where he was being monitored by doctors.
According to The U.K. Independent, Grantham had recently returned to the U.K. after living in Bulgaria for a time. His closest friends and family will mourn his loss at a private funeral service.
Grantham is perhaps best known for his villainous role as “Dirty” Den Watts, the landlord of the Queen Vic public house around which the British soap “EastEnders” revolved.
The actor appeared in the first episode of the program in 1985 and became a star until he was apparently killed off in 1988, only to miraculously reappear in the program again in 2003 only to be killed off again for good.
Perhaps his most famous, or infamous scene from the program came in 1986 when he served his on-screen wife with divorce papers on Christmas Day, an episode watched by an estimated 30 million people.
Grantham’s stardom on the popular soap was quite a change in his life from how things were going in his younger years, when he was convicted of murdering a German taxi driver in 1966. He was sentenced to life in prison but was ultimately released a free man after 10 years.
According to the BBC, Grantham was fondly remembered by many of the actors, actresses and executives he worked with over the years.
Anita Dopson, who had played his first on-screen wife Angie, said she was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the loss, and stated, “I loved working with Leslie and I will never forget our time together on EastEnders.”
“We were both really lucky that we were cast opposite each other. The chemistry was magic … it just happened,” she added.
Sadly, Dopson was actually planning on visiting Grantham in the hospital the day that he breathed his last breath.
Hopefully Grantham’s family, friends and fans will find peace as they grieve over their loss.