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News of ,Dennis Waterman, Minder and New Tricks star, dies aged 74

 Actor Dennis Waterman - who starred in the TV shows Minder, The Sweeney and New Tricks - has died at the age of 74.Known for his role as bodyguard Terry McCann on ITV's Minder, Waterman's showbiz career spanned 60 years.He first rose to fame playing tough cop George Carter in The Sweeney and then starred in BBC's New Tricks as Gerry Standing, a retired police officer brought back as part of a cold case unit.

A statement from Waterman's family said: "We are deeply saddened to announce that our beloved Denise passed away in a hospital in Spain on Sunday afternoon, very peacefully with [his wife] Pam. Family please Asks that our privacy be respected during this difficult time."Waterman also had TV roles in ITV's Where the Heart Is and BBC's The Canterbury Tales and Moses Jones.

He was also known for singing the theme songs on several of his shows, and was caricatured by David Walliams in Little Britain. Walliams co-star Matt Lucas was among those who paid tribute. "I grew up watching Dennis Waterman's iconic performance in The Sweeney and Minder," he tweeted. "Her guest appearance on our Little Britain live show at the Hammersmith Apollo - in which she gleefully duets with an absurd impersonation of David - remains the absolute highlight of my career."

Actor and writer Reece Shearsmith said: "RIP Dennis Waterman. He made me the best cup of tea when I worked with him on New Tricks. And of course I spent time telling him about Scars of Dracula." Waterman starred opposite Christopher Lee in the 1970s Hammer horror film.Comedian Paddy McGuinness also paid tribute. He tweeted: "Me and my Phoenix Nights cast mates sing the theme tune to Minder on tour and on karaoke! Disappointed I never met her, always wanted to be Terry McCann. Another icon from my childhood gone. RIP Dennis Waterman."

DIY SOS presenter Nick Knowles reminisced about a charity golf trip he took with the actor: "I played golf with Dennis Waterman on the Tour of Bermuda - I'm not much of a golfer - he was - but it was time spent with him. Was between tours that were worth the trip. A true sweet boy. Tear-off."

Born in London in 1948, Waterman was the youngest of nine children. He was educated at Corona Theater School and started his showbiz career at an early age. He was invited to join the Royal Shakespeare Company at the age of 12 after a role for the Children's Film Foundation.

He married four times. He left his second wife for actor Rula Lenska, with whom he had two daughters. The couple divorced in 1998, and Waterman married Pam Flint in 2011. His daughter Hannah Waterman played Laura Beale in EastEnders and made a guest appearance in 2007's New Tricks.Waterman faced criticism after admitting to killing Lanska, but claiming she was not a "beaten wife". In an interview with Piers Morgan, he said he was "very, very embarrassed" by the incident.

He was also accused of trivializing domestic violence, telling Morgan's Life Stories series: "I must have punched him once because he had black eyes." He continued: "She certainly wasn't a beaten wife, she was hit and that's different." Minder, which brought west London's criminal underworld to millions of homes up and down the country, was revived by Channel 5 in 2009, but Waterman did not return. His last film role was in Never Too Late in 2020, which was filmed in Australia.

His extensive career included several stops on the stage. He played Alfred Doolittle in the Royal National Theater production of My Fair Lady, and starred in a touring production of Don't Dress for Dinner.He also starred in productions of Twelfth Night, Edward Bond's Saved at the Royal Court Theater and Sergeant Musgraves' Dance. He had a keen interest in music and had chart success in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

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