EastEnders star Leslie Grantham dies, aged 71

Leslie Grantham

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EastEnders actor Leslie Grantham has passed away, aged 71.

A statement issued by his agent today said that Grantham died on Friday morning and a private funeral would be held.

The sad news follows reports earlier this week revealing that the TV star was badly ill.

"Leslie is being looked after. Those who are close to him are hugely worried and are praying for his well-being," a friend told The Sun newspaper.

A spokesperson said at the time that he was "very poorly".

The actor was known for playing rogue character "Dirty Den” on BBC One soap EastEnders for many years.

He first joined the show in 1985, appearing in more than 500 episodes in total.

His return as 'Dirty Den' in 2003 was watched by over 17 million viewers, making it one of the biggest moments in TV history. He departed the show for good in 2005.

Other TV credits included The Bill and Doctor Who, while in his later years Grantham had been living in Bulgaria, starring in The English Neighbour.

Before making it on TV, Grantham served a decade in prison after being convicted of murder in Germany. He was sentenced to life after being found guilty of shooting a taxi driver, serving his sentence in the UK.

It was in prison that Grantham was encouraged to take up acting.

He said in the past: "You learn to play the tough guy, even if you're soft. To this day, I can keep up a front. I've been to prison, I did something terrible, but I'm not a genuine hard man."

More on: EastEnders
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