Tributes have been pouring in today from the cast of EastEnders following the death of Leslie Grantham at the age of 71. The actor, who shot to fame as villainous ‘Dirty’ Den Watts on the BBC1 soap passed away this morning.
Anita Dobson, who played his screen wife Angie, said today in a statement: “I loved working with Leslie and I will never forget our time together on EastEnders.” The pair became the breakout stars of the BBC1 soap following its launch in 1985, with a 1986 Christmas Day episode in which Den served wife Angie with divorce papers watched by a consolidated audience of over 30 million.
Joining them in those early years was Letitia Dean, still on screen in 2018 as Den and Angie’s adoptive daughter Sharon. Speaking this afternoon, Dean said: “I have very special memories of working with Leslie and will cherish them always. He and Anita looked after me in my early days and showed me the ropes, always with care and kindness.
“He never failed to make me laugh and I will remember him with love, affection and gratitude forever. See you up there Leslie! Thank you for everything. Love and respect always, Tish.”
In another tribute, Gillian Taylforth (Kathy Beale) referenced the Christmas Day special that has now become part of TV history: “I’m deeply saddened to hear the very sad news. I have so many happy memories of working with Leslie, he was always great fun and we shared many laughs.
“Those iconic Christmas episodes were legendary and they will always be part of EastEnders history. My heart goes out to his loved ones.”
And June Brown (Dot Branning) recalled Grantham’s good humour on the EastEnders set: “I was very fond of Leslie and am so sorry that he has gone. I always enjoyed talking to him, he made me laugh and always had a twinkle in his eye when he said outrageous things.
“He was a wonderful and special actor, witty and very talented. I shall remember him very fondly and with affection.”
John Yorke, the soap’s executive consultant, added: “Everyone at EastEnders is deeply saddened to hear that Leslie has passed away. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and friends at this extremely difficult time.”
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