Leslie Grantham is ‘fighting for his life’ in hospital.

The Sun reports that the 71-year-old actor, who is best known for his role as Den Watts in the soap, has returned to the UK from his home in Bulgaria to receive medical attention and is not in a good way.

The exact nature of his illness is as yet unknown, but showbiz pals are said to be fearing the worst.

“He remains poorly and is being taken care of by medical staff.” – A representative today confirms

Grantham played scheming womaniser Den, the Queen Vic’s first on-screen landlord, from EastEnders‘ opening episode in 1985 until 1989. Viewers were gripped by Den’s stormy marriage to wife Angie (Anita Dobson), who he cheated on with his long-term mistress Jan Hammond (Jane How) and schoolgirl Michelle Fowler (Susan Tully).

Den’s dalliance with Michelle, his daughter Sharon’s (Letitia Dean) best friend, only became known to the audience after Michelle announced she was pregnant and met up with the man responsible. An early ratings success for EastEnders, the reveal of Den as the father of Michelle’s baby in October 1985 saw the character dubbed ‘Dirty Den’ by the popular press.

After getting in over his head with a local criminal outfit, Den was seemingly bumped off as part of a contract killing – falling into a local canal after being shot. However, despite what was believed to be his body later being recovered from the water, the character made a sensational comeback to the saga in 2003.

Den was ratings gold for EastEnders with a record-breaking 30.1m viewers witnessing him serve alcoholic Angie divorce papers on Christmas Day 1986 after discovering that she had faked a terminal illness to deter him from leaving her whilst 17m saw his return to the beeb serial in September 2003.

After framing Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) for armed robbery, repeatedly cheating on second wife Chrissie (Tracy-Ann Oberman) and acquiring the Queen Vic from Sam Mitchell (Kim Medcalf) by dubious means, he was killed off for good in 2005 when a scorned Chrissie clobbered him with an iron doorstop.

Between his two stints in EastEnders Grantham also appeared in several dramas such as BBC One’s The Paradise Club, 99-1 for Carlton on ITV and was a personality in his own right making appearances on Central Television’s star quiz Celebrity Squares for ITV, BBC One’s The Les Dawson Show, Cluedo from Granada for ITV and as a regular feature on Channel 5’s Fort Boyard where, as expected, he played the ‘baddie’ Master of the Fort who wanted the contestants to fail and not win ‘his money’.

Before ‘Enders he had also made a number of notable appearances in programmes such as drama The Jewel In The Crown and sci-fi series Doctor Who.

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