Dennis Waterman with then girlfriend Rula Lenska. The pair were married for ten years before they split
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Dennis Waterman was hailed an ‘icon’ last night as stars paid tribute to the star who has died aged 74.

The cockney actor, who starred in TV shows Minder, The Sweeney and New Tricks, died in Spain with his wife Pam Flint at his side.

‘We are deeply saddened to announce that our beloved Dennis passed away very peacefully at his home in Spain,’ his family said in a statement.

Piers Morgan paid tribute to the ‘superb actor’ while presenter Nick Knowles recalled a charity golf trip with the late star: ‘I played golf on a tour to Bermuda with Dennis Waterman – I’m not much of a golfer, he was – but it was time spent with him between rounds that were well worth the trip.’

Matt Lucas reminisced about Waterman’s duet with Little Britain comic David Walliams who used to impersonate the actor on the BBC sketch show.

Others accidentally paid tribute to the wrong Waterman – record producer Pete – including Kay Burley and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi. 

He tweeted ‘RIP Pete. A great actor, grew up watching minder’, before adding: ‘Made a mistake. RIP Dennis Waterman.’ 

He is remembered here by Christopher Stevens. 

When it came to couples in explosive relationships, Hollywood had Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Putney had Dennis Waterman and Rula Lenska.

Their turbulent love affair provoked endless headlines about violent break-ups and slanging matches after they met on the set of Minder, the comedy-drama that cemented Waterman’s lovable hard-man image, in 1981.

The attraction was instant – ‘like being hit in the stomach by a ten-ton bag of cement’, said Waterman, who died yesterday aged 74 at his home in Spain.

He nicknamed her ‘Red’, because of her flaming hair and, with both actors addicted to the excitement of high passions, their relationship was never far from the gossip columns for the next 20 years.

It didn’t help, of course, that it was fuelled by fame and alcohol.

Dennis Waterman with then girlfriend Rula Lenska. The pair were married for ten years before they split

Dennis Waterman with then girlfriend Rula Lenska. The pair were married for ten years before they split

Waterman and John Thaw pictured on set during filming of their movie The Sweeney, based on the television series, in October 1975

Waterman and John Thaw pictured on set during filming of their movie The Sweeney, based on the television series, in October 1975

John Thaw and Dennis Waterman on the set of their film Sweeney 2 in December 1977. The film was based on the earlier drama series

John Thaw and Dennis Waterman on the set of their film Sweeney 2 in December 1977. The film was based on the earlier drama series

Dennis Waterman (right) pictured with George Cole on the set of Minder. Waterman starred in the show as Terry McCann

Dennis Waterman (right) pictured with George Cole on the set of Minder. Waterman starred in the show as Terry McCann

Waterman (right) pictured in a publicity shot with James Bolam, Alun Armstrong and Amanda Redman for the BBC's New Tricks

Waterman (right) pictured in a publicity shot with James Bolam, Alun Armstrong and Amanda Redman for the BBC’s New Tricks

He left her for other women. She flung him out amid accusations of domestic abuse. He called her a nightmare to live with. 

And still they seemed unable to exist without each other. After the final split, 11 years into their marriage, Waterman admitted in a defiant TV interview that he had sometimes hit Rula.

‘She certainly wasn’t a beaten wife,’ he told Piers Morgan on ITV’s Life Stories. ‘She was hit and that’s different. It’s not difficult for a woman to make a man hit her.

‘The problem with strong, intelligent women is that they can argue well. And if there is a time when you can’t get a word in… I lashed out. 

‘When frustration builds up and you can’t think of a way out. It happened, and I’m very, very ashamed of it,’ he added.

Waterman’s tempestuous private life seemed part and parcel of his onscreen career.

From 1970s stardom as DS George Carter in The Sweeney, to his best-known role as reformed jailbird Terry McCann in Minder, to his swansong as grouchy ex-copper Gerry Standing investigating cold cases in New Tricks, he always played tough men who were handy with their fists.   

Even his sideline as a singer fitted well with the image. He performed the theme songs for Minder and New Tricks, as well as those for a couple of his lesser sitcoms, Stay Lucky and On The Up. 

Though his singing style always owed more to pub karaoke than the West End stage, the number from Minder (which he co-wrote) gave him a No 3 hit with I Could Be So Good For You in 1980.

With his co-star George Cole (who played wheeler-dealer Arthur Daley) he scraped into the Top 20 three years later with a novelty song called What Are We Gonna Get ‘Er Indoors?

Waterman died in Spain today with his partner Pam Flint, 60, at his side, his family said in a statement

Waterman died in Spain today with his partner Pam Flint, 60, at his side, his family said in a statement

Waterman pictured in character as Terry McCann on location during filming of the television series Minder in London in October 1979

Waterman pictured in character as Terry McCann on location during filming of the television series Minder in London in October 1979

His penchant for a sing-song became a running joke. David Walliams played him in Little Britain, with a cockney catchphrase, ‘Write the feem toon, sing the feem toon’.

Waterman, whose sense of humour sometimes ran dry when he was the butt of jokes, claimed he’d never bothered watching the show – he tuned in once but got fed up of watching ‘some bloke in a dress’.

He was born in 1948, the youngest of nine children by six years. His father, Harry, was a former amateur boxer and a British Railways ticket collector. 

His mother took little notice of him, leaving his oldest sister Joy to bring him up. Most neighbours assumed she was his mum, he said.

Spotting his talent for performance, Joy encouraged him to skip football practice and try amateur dramatics when he was nine. 

Within two years, he had left his primary school in Putney, south-west London, and was learning to act at the Corona Academy in Chiswick.

A year later, the school provided the cast of boys for Lionel Bart’s musical Oliver! at the West End’s Mermaid Theatre – with Dennis, aged 12, in the title role. He was cast as the star, too, in the BBC’s TV series William in 1962, based on Richmal Crompton’s Just William stories.

That led to an extraordinary TV deal in Los Angeles, where Lucille Ball’s Desilu company signed him to a $250,000 contract (about £2million today).

He played Neville Finch in Fair Exchange, a comedy about a boy spending the holidays with an American family.

‘For six months of the year,’ reported the Daily Mail, ‘Dennis will live in a Hollywood apartment, with a chauffeur-driven limousine. For the other six months, he will live in his parents’ council flat in Chartfield Avenue, Putney.’

His father insisted he would not give up his own job – clipping tickets at £9 a week – but he conceded: ‘It seems a lot of money.’

Young Dennis posed for a page of pictures, including one of him threatening the camera with his fist and another pulling a schoolgirl’s plaits. The images might be seen as slightly ominous.

Later, he looked back on the experience with fondness. ‘I loved it. I was spoilt rotten. In the next-door studio, they were doing Bonanza and Gun Law, so I got to mix with the cowboys.’

His biggest role of the next few years was opposite Suzy Kendall in the gritty TV drama Up The Junction, a title later immortalised in song by Squeeze.

Other roles were less glamorous, and the early promise of his career seemed to be slipping away by 1970 when he co-starred with Christopher Lee in the woeful Scars Of Dracula.

He had a brief stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company, but did not enjoy it. ‘I was totally surrounded by people who went down the health food shop for lunch and went on talking about the play all day,’ he said. 

Waterman (left) pictured alongside John Thaw (right) during filming for television series The Sweeney, in which he played tough nut cop George Carter

Waterman (left) pictured alongside John Thaw (right) during filming for television series The Sweeney, in which he played tough nut cop George Carter

Waterman pictured alongside Carol Lynley in 1969 film Journey to the Unknown. Waterman played Albert Baker, a young man unlucky in love who becomes attracted to a female mannequin that comes to life in his fantasies

Waterman pictured alongside Carol Lynley in 1969 film Journey to the Unknown. Waterman played Albert Baker, a young man unlucky in love who becomes attracted to a female mannequin that comes to life in his fantasies

‘Nobody wanted to go with me to the pub. I got to be very lonely.’

But his star was rekindled in 1974, thanks to the generosity of John Thaw.

Waterman played a slightly naive but game young detective, learning from his guv’nor in the Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad. 

Thaw was the bruised old warrior, DI Jack Regan, and cockney rhyming slang gave the show its title: Sweeney Todd, Flying Squad.

After filming the first four episodes, Thaw took the writers aside and said he thought Waterman’s character deserved more time on screen. 

The young man had an emotional range they could use, he said.

The result was one of the most memorable episodes of crime TV ever screened. Hit and Run saw DS Carter’s wife (played by Stephanie Turner, later the star of Juliet Bravo) killed by criminals to ensure her silence.

Waterman’s portrayal of grief and fury caused a sensation. It also gave his character the depth Thaw wanted to see, preventing The Sweeney from being a one- man show.

Like Jack Regan keeping an eye on his volatile sergeant, Thaw took Waterman under his wing. ‘A couple of times, at the end of the day, he said, “Let’s go up to the Serpentine and get a boat out”. 

It was a strange thing to do, but great fun.’ The Sweeney became so popular that Waterman and Thaw were invited on to The Morecambe and Wise Show – repaying the compliment by giving Eric and Ernie guest-star cameos, playing themselves.

Waterman was proud of headlines that claimed, when The Sweeney was on, the pubs were empty. ‘We certainly had an impact on the police,’ he said. 

‘When we started, they didn’t want anything to do with us, but then they realised it was quite healthy for the public to see that the police were as tough as the villains.

‘Then they got worried that their wives would realise what they were up to.’

The show’s success was followed, in 1979, with Minder – the programme that made Waterman famous for the rest of his life. 

He played nice guy Terry, one of life’s perpetual losers, who looked after the rough-house jobs for dodgy car dealer Arthur.

In exchange for his muscle, Terry got a used Ford Capri, the occasional ‘pony’ or £25 in used notes, and a lot of aggro.

Waterman pictured with Carol Lynley during filming for Journey to the Unknown in June 1969

Waterman pictured with Carol Lynley during filming for Journey to the Unknown in June 1969

Waterman and Amanda Redman in the show Windy City at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London in 1982

Waterman and Amanda Redman in the show Windy City at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London in 1982

John Thaw and Waterman in The Sweeney. Waterman played rose to stardom as DS George Carter incthe show

John Thaw and Waterman in The Sweeney. Waterman played rose to stardom as DS George Carter incthe show

George Cole was surprised to realise that Waterman was as much a rough diamond in real life as in character.

‘I managed to teach Dennis to do the Times crossword,’ he said. ‘In return, he taught me how to swear in public.’

Cole believed that Minder was created as a vehicle for Waterman. That didn’t stop the older actor from stealing the show, and he continued to play ‘Arfur’ for five years after Waterman quit in 1989.

By then, the headlines from Waterman’s wayward private life threatened to eclipse anything he did on camera.

In 1986 he was pulled over and breathalysed in his BMW on the M25, and found to be almost four times over the legal limit.

He admitted drinking ‘four or five large brandies, a couple of pints of beer and wine with his lunch’, but pleaded that he’d had a nap before driving and thought he’d slept it off. He was fined £500 and banned for three years.

Alcohol played a major part in his rollercoaster marriage to Rula. They were both married to other people when they met – with Waterman on his second marriage, to Patricia Maynard, with whom he had two daughters, then aged three and seven.

Rula also had a two-year-old daughter. She was attracted to Waterman’s ‘aura of danger’, she said in 1995: ‘For me, the danger element was always present with Dennis.

‘Whether it’s the same for him with me, I don’t know. He’s not a great talker.’ That danger spilled over in 1990, three years after their wedding, when Waterman left her for a blonde television production assistant called Fiona, whom he met while filming Stay Lucky.

He returned to Rula 18 months later and she insisted she didn’t worry about him walking out a second time.

But they had no children together, partly because she knew he would leave all the parenting to her. ‘The prospect of Dennis getting up in the middle of the night to feed, wind and nappy change is, after all, remote.

‘I’ve given up the ideal scenario of Dennis being a devoted family man. He isn’t, and never will be. He’s basically a man’s man.’

When they broke up in 1997, Waterman threatened reporters that he might ‘get violent’ if pressed on the rumours.

But it was Rula who confirmed the gossip, telling the Daily Mail: ‘You can’t understand how bloody impossible it is.

This situation is driving me into a nervous state… treading on eggshells to keep your partner happy, to be what they want you to be – but of course you never are. 

‘I’m not saying that Dennis was violent, but there is a pattern of behaviour that one can attribute to Dennis. Bullying is not the same as an abusive relationship.’

After the furious drama of that marriage, Waterman seemed to become a calmer, less self-destructive man. He fell in love again, meeting Pam Flint soon after Rula left him, and marrying her in 2011.

For 12 years from 2003, he played retired detective Gerry Standing in 99 episodes of New Tricks. The character – the last role of his career, bar one cameo in 2020 – was fond of a pint and didn’t mince his words.

But Waterman, who once said he ‘wouldn’t p*** on [Tony Blair] if he was on fire’, insisted Gerry was a softie, compared to himself.

‘I’m much less politically correct than him,’ he said. ‘I hate political correctness. It makes liars out of everyone. I guess that makes me a chauvinist as well, then?’

Like the characters he played, and for which he was so celebrated, Dennis Waterman never steered away from trouble.  

Dennis Waterman died with fourth wife Pam by his side at his home in Spain: Wave of tributes flood in for beloved TV hardman, 74, who retired to the sun seven years ago joking ‘I’m really good at doing f***-all’ 

By Chris Jewers, Stewart Carr and Jamie Phillips for MailOnline

Tributes have poured in for legendary TV actor Dennis Waterman, who died on Sunday at the age of 74 in Spain, with his fourth wife Pam by his side.

Waterman was one of the most popular television actors of the 1970s and 80s. He starred as bodyguard Terry McCann in Minder after first finding fame as tough nut cop George Carter in The Sweeney.

In more recent years, he starred as Gerry Standing in the BBC’s New Tricks, and throughout his career other TV roles included ITV’s Where The Heart Is, The Canterbury Tales and Moses Jones.

Following the news of his death, fellow TV personalities shared tributes to the actor, praising him for his career that began when he was a child and spanned six decades.

Little Britain’s Matt Lucas described the actor as ‘iconic’, presenter Nick Knowles calling him a ‘genuinely lovely guy’, and newscaster Piers Morgan said that Waterman was a ‘superb actor and a great character’.

Born in Clapham, North London in 1948, Waterman went on to be married four times. 

He married his first wife, actress Penny Dixon, in 1967 and divorced in 1976.

Waterman had two daughters with second his wife Patricia Maynard, one of whom is former EastEnders actress Hannah Waterman – who later played his daughter in New Tricks. He attracted headlines when he split up with Maynard in 1987 and married actress Rula Lenska, but the marriage fell apart after ten years.

Waterman married his fourth wife Pam Flint in 2011 after being friends for many years, and they remained together until his death. In a statement, his family said he died on Sunday at his home in Spain with Pam at his side.

Speaking after New Tricks concluded in 2015, the actor said that he had downsized homes and moved to Spain to enjoy the sun. He told The Mirror at the time: ‘I’m not rushing about looking for work really – I’ll see how far the money goes. I’ve found out a remarkable thing about myself is that I’m really, really good at doing f***-all.’

He said that while he was not fully retired, he was spending a lot of time ‘lolling in the sun’ and playing golf.

Tributes have poured in for legendary TV actor Dennis Waterman, who died on Sunday at the age of 74 in Spain, with his wife Pam by his side. Pictured: Waterman and Pam Flint pose for a photograph together for the Daily Mail

Tributes have poured in for legendary TV actor Dennis Waterman, who died on Sunday at the age of 74 in Spain, with his wife Pam by his side. Pictured: Waterman and Pam Flint pose for a photograph together for the Daily Mail

Waterman had two daughters with second his wife Patricia Maynard, one of whom is former EastEnders actress Hannah Waterman - who later played his daughter in New Tricks.

He attracted headlines when he split up with Maynard in 1987 and married actress Rula Lenska, but the marriage fell apart after ten years

Waterman had two daughters with second his wife Patricia Maynard (pictured together left), one of whom is former EastEnders actress Hannah Waterman – who later played his daughter in New Tricks. He attracted headlines when he split up with Maynard in 1987 and married actress Rula Lenska (pictured together right), but the marriage fell apart after ten years

Dennis Waterman, right, was one of the most popular television actors of the 70s and 80s. Pictured here with Minder co-star George Cole

Dennis Waterman, right, was one of the most popular television actors of the 70s and 80s. Pictured here with Minder co-star George Cole

Following his death, Waterman’s family said: ‘We are deeply saddened to announce that our beloved Dennis passed away very peacefully at his home in Spain. The family kindly ask that our privacy is respected at this very difficult time.’

Waterman was caricatured on Little Britain by actor David Walliams and made a surprising guest appearance with Walliams and co-star Matt Lucas at the Comic Relief in 2006.

And Lucas was among many sharing tributes to the actor today, tweeting: ‘I grew up watching Dennis Waterman’s iconic performances in The Sweeney and Minder. 

‘His guest appearance in our Little Britain Live show at Hammersmith Apollo – in which he hilariously duetted with David’s absurd impersonation of him – remains the absolute highlight of my career.’

Vicki Michelle, who appeared in an episode of Minder along with Waterman, wrote: ‘So sad to hear Dennis Waterman has passed. Great memory of doing Minder with him Fab actor gone too soon RIP.’

Broadcaster Piers Morgan also took to Twitter to pay tribute. ‘RIP Dennis Waterman, 74. Star of Minder, New Tricks and for me, his finest role – as Detective George Carter in The Sweeney opposite the late, great John Thaw,’ Morgan wrote. ‘Superb actor and a great character. Sad news.’ 

Following the news of his death, fellow TV personalities shared tributes to the actor, praising him for his career that began when he was a child and spanned six decades

Following the news of his death, fellow TV personalities shared tributes to the actor, praising him for his career that began when he was a child and spanned six decades

Producer Jonathan Sothcott tweeted: ‘Dennis Waterman was one of our biggest TV stars throughout the 70s and 80s, an everyman figure who felt like one of us. A naturalistic, nuanced actor. 

‘Terrific in The Sweeney, unforgettable in Minder (helluva song too, lampoonery aside). They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.’

Actor Stuart Anthony said: ‘Dennis Waterman has left us. What a fantastic talent and lovely man. Such a loss to the industry. RIP.’

Newsreader Kay Burley posted: ‘A brilliant actor who was a staple on our screens throughout the 70s and 80s. Loved The Sweeney. Loved Minder more.’

DIY SOS presenter Nick Knowles also today reminisced about a charity golf trip he took alongside Waterman.

Knowles tweeted: ‘I played golf on a tour to Bermuda with Dennis Waterman – I’m not much of a golfer – he was – but it was time spent with him between rounds that were well worth the trip. A genuinely lovely guy. RIP.’ 

And presenter and comedian Paddy McGuinness said he had always wanted to be the character of Waterman’s Terry McCann.

In a tweet, he wrote: ‘Myself and my Phoenix Nights cast mates used to sing the theme tune to Minder on tour and on the Karaoke! 

‘Gutted I never got to meet him, always wanted to be Terry McCann. Another icon from my childhood gone. RIP Dennis Waterman.’

Journalist John Sweeney tweeted: ‘RIP Dennis Waterman. The Sweeney was everything great TV drama should be: gritty, honest, true.’

Actor and writer Reece Shearsmith added: ‘RIP Dennis Waterman. When I worked with him on “New Tricks” he made me the best cups of tea.

‘And of course I just spent the time grilling him about “Scars of Dracula”.’

Former Eastenders and Rise of the Footsoldier actor Craig Fairbrass said: ‘Truly upset & gutted hearing this news. I loved him – my days will never be the same watching ITV4 Sweeney & Minder. Quality classic TV. RIP Dennis x’

Dennis Waterman (right) pictured with fellow London cast members of My Fair Lady, Martine McCutcheon and Jonathan Pryce, making a special appearance at HMV in London's Oxford Street

Dennis Waterman (right) pictured with fellow London cast members of My Fair Lady, Martine McCutcheon and Jonathan Pryce, making a special appearance at HMV in London’s Oxford Street

Dennis Waterman and his wife Pam Flint arriving at Reading Crematorium for the funeral of George Cole in 2015

Dennis Waterman and his wife Pam Flint arriving at Reading Crematorium for the funeral of George Cole in 2015

Dennis Waterman (left) and George Cole (right) with Chris Routh during filming of Minder in 1985

Dennis Waterman (left) and George Cole (right) with Chris Routh during filming of Minder in 1985

Waterman pictured alongside Carol Lynley in 1969 film Journey to the Unknown. Waterman played Albert Baker, a young man unlucky in love who becomes attracted to a female mannequin that comes to life in his fantasies

Waterman pictured alongside Carol Lynley in 1969 film Journey to the Unknown. Waterman played Albert Baker, a young man unlucky in love who becomes attracted to a female mannequin that comes to life in his fantasies

John Thaw and Dennis Waterman on the set of their film Sweeney 2 in December 1977. The film was based on the earlier drama series

John Thaw and Dennis Waterman on the set of their film Sweeney 2 in December 1977. The film was based on the earlier drama series

Waterman (left) and John Thaw (1942-2002) in centre, pictured together in character as George Carter and Jack Regan during production of the spin-off feature film Sweeney 2

Waterman (left) and John Thaw (1942-2002) in centre, pictured together in character as George Carter and Jack Regan during production of the spin-off feature film Sweeney 2

Dennis Waterman (left) and with Minder co-star George Cole at the TV Times magazine's awards ceremony in 1985 at the height of the show's success

Dennis Waterman (left) and with Minder co-star George Cole at the TV Times magazine’s awards ceremony in 1985 at the height of the show’s success

Waterman (centre) pictured with Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams for a special Comic Relief performance in 2006

Waterman (centre) pictured with Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams for a special Comic Relief performance in 2006

Waterman on stage along with David Walliams (left) and Matt Lucas (right) for Little Britain's Big Night charity gala performance in aid of Comic Relief at the Hammersmith Apollo in November 2006

Waterman on stage along with David Walliams (left) and Matt Lucas (right) for Little Britain’s Big Night charity gala performance in aid of Comic Relief at the Hammersmith Apollo in November 2006

Waterman was educated at the Corona Theatre School and began his showbiz career at a young age.

Following a role for the Children’s Film Foundation, he was invited to join Stratford’s Royal Shakespeare Company.

A role in the BBC’s adaptation of the Just William books followed and the actor would, in his later years, reflect on some of the different roles he undertook.

In 2009, he starred in the BBC’s hard-hitting drama Moses Jones, a role which he said at the time he had enjoyed because it cast him in a different light.

He added: ‘I really enjoyed it, because it was a very different kind of character – and that’s important. 

‘On television in Britain, I’m sort of the cheeky chappie, everybody’s mate, but I’ve never played anything like that in the theatre. It’s strange that you get cast as different things in different parts of the media.’

His role in 2003 drama New Tricks marked his return to a long-running show for the first time in a decade and saw him star alongside acting stalwarts James Bolam and Alun Armstrong. He initially joined the show in 2003 and featured in the role for 11 years until 2014. 

Waterman (left) pictured alongside John Thaw (right) during filming for television series The Sweeney, in which he played tough nut cop George Carter

Waterman (left) pictured alongside John Thaw (right) during filming for television series The Sweeney, in which he played tough nut cop George Carter

Waterman with Amanda Redman (left) and Diane Langton (right) promoting their then new musical Windy City, at the Victoria Palace in 1982

Waterman with Amanda Redman (left) and Diane Langton (right) promoting their then new musical Windy City, at the Victoria Palace in 1982

Waterman married actress Rula Lenska (left) in 1987, but their relationship fell apart ten years later following claims of abuse

Waterman married actress Rula Lenska (left) in 1987, but their relationship fell apart ten years later following claims of abuse

His character Gerry was part of the cold case squad, who were often at odds with their detective boss, played by Amanda Redman.

Minder was later revived by Channel 5 in 2009, but Waterman did not return for the new outing.

His extensive career also included numerous stints on the stage and he played Alfred Doolittle in a Royal National Theatre production of My Fair Lady, as well as starring in a tour production of Don’t Dress For Dinner. 

He also starred in productions of Twelfth Night, Edward Bond’s Saved at the Royal Court Theatre and Sergeant Musgrave’s Dance.

His talents did not end with acting and he had a keen interest in music, having recorded albums and singles, including songs which charted in Australia, New Zealand and Britain.

He was also part of the popular tour, Friends On Tour, which saw him take to the road alongside Sheena Easton and Gerard Kenny.

The final project of his acting career came in 2020 in the form of was Australian drama-comedy film Never Too Late. It followed four former prisoners of war that broke out of their camp during the Vietnam War before becoming residents in the same retirement home. 

Dennis Waterman: An actor and singer whose career spanned more than six decades

Dennis Waterman was a familiar face on British television for more than six decades.

From tough cop George Carter in The Sweeney to good-hearted detective sergeant Gerry Standing in New Tricks, he was known for playing action-packed characters who had more than meets the eye.

Not one to focus on a single role, Waterman was also an accomplished singer, stage actor and film star.

Born in 1948 in Clapham, south-west London, as the youngest of nine children, he was surrounded by arts at a young age thanks to his older sister Joy, who ran her own amateur dramatics society and encouraged the rest of the Waterman children to join.

His mother also dabbled in music by playing the piano in a way which Waterman once described as an ‘East End knees-up job’.

Waterman joined the Corona Theatre School in 1959 following a suggestion from another one of his sisters and soon got work in the industry.

Dennis Waterman, whose acting and singing career spanned six decades, has died aged 74

Dennis Waterman, whose acting and singing career spanned six decades, has died aged 74

His film debut came in 1960 in the Night Train For Inverness. 

Also at the age of 12, Waterman was invited to join the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon.

He followed with the television series Just William, and spent a year in the West End playing Winthrop Parroo in The Music Man.

At 16, he starred on the West End in Carving A Statue, which marked the beginning of a recording career and a three-year engagement at the Royal Court.

During that time, his versatility as an actor was stretched in productions ranging from Edward Bond’s Saved, through to Twelfth Night and Sergeant Musgrave’s Dance.

Further stints on television and in the theatre led to him landing a role in Nell Dunn’s Up The Junction in 1967, playing Pete, a man from his native Clapham, who meets an upper class girl from Chelsea, west London, and begins dating her.

Waterman became a household name after playing the role of DS George Carter in crime series The Sweeney, in which he co-starred with John Thaw. The worldwide popularity led to two film box office smashes, Sweeney I and Sweeney II.

He later reflected fondly on his time in the show, stating in his Life And Times documentary: ‘We knew we were doing something really quite special and very different from British television.

‘There was no worry then, which I think was a help. There was no great panic about whether it was going to be a success in the ratings.

‘We just knew we had very good scripts, we had great directors, and we thought we weren’t that shabby. John [Thaw] and I were great mates and, it sounds horrible, but it was just a joy to go to work every day.’

His Sweeney success was later topped with critically acclaimed television series The Minder, where Waterman played bodyguard, or ‘minder’, Terry McCann for 10 years from 1979. He demonstrated his vocal talents by singing the theme song, I Could Be So Good for You, which peaked at number three in the UK charts in 1980.

His passion for singing led Waterman to release music with record companies EMI and DJM.

He released three albums – Down Wind Of Angels, Waterman and So Good For You – in the 1970s and 1980s and performed around the UK on a tour, dubbed Friends On Tour, with Sheena Easton and Gerard Kenny.

Waterman pictured on set for The Sweeney, in which he first found fame playing the role of tough nut cop George Carter. The series launched his career on British television

Waterman pictured on set for The Sweeney, in which he first found fame playing the role of tough nut cop George Carter. The series launched his career on British television

Waterman pictured during filming for Piers Morgan's Life Stories. He is urvived by his wife, Pam, and two daughters, Julia and Hannah

Waterman pictured during filming for Piers Morgan’s Life Stories. He is urvived by his wife, Pam, and two daughters, Julia and Hannah

Echoing the success of Sweeney, Minder was adapted into a film based on the TV series entitled Minder On The Orient Express, which was broadcast on Christmas Day in 1985.

After leaving Minder, Waterman returned to the stage for several years, starring in shows including Jeffrey Bernard in Unwell in Australia, Ireland and the UK, and My Fair Lady in the West End.

In the latter part of his career, he played Gerry Standing in the show New Tricks from 2003 to 2014.

Afterwards he semi-retired, splitting his time between his homes in Berkshire and Spain. His final film role was in the Australian comedy drama Never Too Late in 2020.

Waterman is survived by his wife, Pam, and two daughters, Julia and Hannah, who were born following his marriage to actress Patricia Maynard. 

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Florida is outpacing the nation economically, seeing an increased rate of job…

‘We Were Not Prepared’ for Immigration Problems, I Hope Title 42 Stays for ‘Three or Four Months’ So We Can Prepare

During a portion of an interview with NBC News Correspondent Sam Brock…

Boris Johnson wants Sue Gray to publish Partygate photos to dispel ‘Ibiza on a Saturday night’ claim

Boris Johnson wants Sue Gray to publish Partygate photos to help dispel…

Rising Monkeypox Cases Suggest It’s Spread ‘Pretty Wide’

Appearing Friday on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Pfizer board member and former FDA Commissioner…

Jill Biden visits same Children’s Hospital in Costa Rica that John F. Kennedy visited in 1963

Jill Biden visits same Children’s Hospital in Costa Rica that John F.…