The actor Leslie Grantham has died at the age of 71.
Leslie Grantham had a small role in the 1984 story Resurrection of the Daleks playing Kiston, a member of Lytton's mercenary company. He will be best remembered for creating the role of Den Watts in the hugely successful soap opera EastEnders.
Born in Camberwell, south London, after leaving school, Grantham joined the Royal Fusiliers becoming a lance corporal. He was 18 when serving in Germany he bungled a robbery. During a struggle, he shot and killed a taxi driver, Felix Reese. Grantham insisted he did not know the gun was loaded and it had gone off by accident. The jury didn't believe him and convicted him of murder.
The next 11 years were spent in British jails. It was while serving in Leyhill Prison in Gloucestershire that he met actress Louise Jameson, who was working as a prison visitor. She encouraged him to take up acting and on his release, he was offered a place at drama school
Leslie Grantham's big break came in 1984 when he was offered the role of the pub landlord in the BBC's new gritty drama, EastEnders, set in the working class area of East London. The director of the show's first episode, Matthew Robinson, had also helmed his appearance in Doctor Who.
His was the first voice heard in the show. The character was immoral, unscrupulous and cruel and it gripped the imagination of the British public. When the character made his daughters schoolgirl friend pregnant he was dubbed Dirty Den by the tabloids.
The Christmas 1986 episode, in which Den handed divorce papers to his wife Angie, was watched by 30 million viewers, half the population of the UK.
Grantham left the series in 1989. Other roles followed but he never achieved the success enjoyed while in EastEnders. He was lured back in 2003 for an 18 month stint.
Grantham has lived in Bulgaria for the last few years. He recently retured to the UK for medical treatment He died on Friday morning
He is survived by his three children, Michael (“Spike”), Jake and Danny