Actor Dennis Waterman has died at the age of 74

Dennis Waterman, who starred in TV shows including The Sweeney, Minder and New Tricks, has died at the age of 74.

“We are deeply saddened to announce that our beloved Dennis, passed away very peacefully in hospital in Spain,” a statement from Waterman’s family disclosed.

He died on Sunday afternoon with his wife Pam at his side, his family added.

Waterman first found fame as one of the leads in ITV cop drama The Sweeney, following two members of Flying Squad, a branch of the Metropolitan Police specialising in tackling armed robbery and violent crime in London. The series starred John Thaw as Detective Inspector Jack Regan, while Waterman played his partner, Detective Sergeant George Carter.

Born on February 24th, 1948, as the youngest of nine children to train Ticket Inspector father Harry and mother Rose in London he first thrived in sport, particularly as a boxer something that was a family tradition. Dennis was educated at the Granard Primary School followed by Corona Stage School where his career as a child actor began. Professional work soon followed with his first role in the Paramount Pictures movie Night Train for Inverness in 1960.

BBC series ‘William’ based on the Just William books.
The Sweeney, Thames Television

There were also stage productions at this time and several television appearances including as William Brown in the BBC series William based on the Just William books of Richmal Crompton. By 1968 he was becoming a name in the industry and was cast in the film Up The Junction as Peter. Across the early to mid-1970s Dennis appeared regularly on television including a memorable appearance in Thames Television’s sitcom Man About The House where he featured as German student, Franz Wasserman.

It would be with Thames Television, and their movie and drama arm Euston Films, that Dennis would feature in some of his best-remembered roles. First as Detective Sergeant George Carter opposite John Thaw’s Detective Inspector Jack Regan in police drama The Sweeney. Paying tribute to Dennis the late John Thaw’s wife, Sheila Hancock today said, John & Dennis were a wonderful screen partnership. Dennis made it look easy but he was a subtle and utterly truthful actor. RIP’. The show ran from 1975 to 1978 and has seen several reruns due to its continued popularity.

Minder, Thames Television/Euston Films
Words on War, ATV Network.

Another partnership was formed for the comedy drama Minder in 1979. Teaming up with George Cole, Dennis starred as former boxer Terry McCann who was hired by Cole’s Arthur Daley, a small-time conman, to be his ‘minder’ due to the dubious business practices Daley involved himself in, and thus often needing some ‘heavy protection’. While Terry is tried his hardest to satisfy his employer’s demands, and putting his own life at risk, Arthur was often busy exploiting Terry for all he is worth. After ten years and seven series Dennis quit the show in 1989 stating that he felt the writers had done ‘all they could’ with Terry, and it was time to move on.

The show however carried on until 1994 with a further three series. For the first seven outings of Minder, the opening and closing featured the track I Could Be So Good For You, sung by Waterman. It reached Number 3 in the charts in 1980,  which saw him perform it live on Top of the Pops. Waterman also recorded a song with George Cole performing as their Arthur and Terry alter-egos with “What Are We Gonna Get For ‘Er Indoors?” this led to another appearance on the BBC One chart show in 1983.

In 1979 he turned to presenting when he joined ATV for a series Words on War, this show saw Dennis look at how war has been recorded over the years in drama and song. Guests included wartime sweetheart Vera Lynn.

The World Cup: A Captain’s Tale, Tyne Tees Television.
Dennis Waterman- with a Little Help from his Friends, an hour long medley of music song and humour from Yorkshire Television.

The 1990s were also a buoyant time for television series – many now also including Dennis performing the theme tune to the programme – such as the Yorkshire Television comedy drama Stay Lucky and BBC One sitcom On The Up. His theme tune singing led to a spoof in BBC Three sketch comedy Little Britain where Dennis was seen, played by David Walliams, always under the impression that any acting role offered would see him ‘write the theme tune, sing the theme tune…’ Little Britain co-star Matt Lucas paid tribute on social media today, noting. 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’.

In recent years Dennis was part of the police drama New Tricks, where once more he performed the theme tune ‘It’s Alright’. The show utilises an ensemble cast, of which Dennis Waterman was the only constant over all twelve series; this cast variously included Alun Armstrong, James Bolam, Amanda Redman, Denis Lawson, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Tamzin Outhwaite, and Larry Lamb. New Tricks ran from 2003 to 2015, with Waterman quitting during the final series following ‘several cast changes’ that he wasn’t keen on.

On the Up, BBC One.
Circles of Deceit II, Yorkshire Television.

Dennis was married four times. First in 1967 to Penny Dixon. They divorced in 1976. Dennis then married Patricia Maynard in 1977. It was Patricia who co-wrote ‘I Could Be So Good For You’ with American singer-songwriter Gerard Kenny. Dennis and Patricia had two daughters, one of whom, Hannah Waterman, is also an actress and appeared as his on-screen daughter in New Tricks. Patricia and Dennis divorced after a decade.

His third marriage was to Rula Lenska from 1987 to 1998 and this became his most controversial union with the revelations the couple parted because of his violent behaviour towards her. In March 2012, he caused controversy with some comments on this issue: “It’s not difficult for a woman to make a man hit her. She certainly wasn’t a beaten wife, she was hit and that’s different.” The comments were broadcast on his appearance on ITV’s Piers Morgan’s Life Stories in 2012.

In 2011 he married for the final time when he tied the knot with Pam Flint, who remained with him until his death. Waterman was a fan of Chelsea F.C. His love of football saw him present BBC Two series Match of the Seventies from 1995 to 1996.

Waterman died at his home in Spain.

New Tricks, BBC One.
Match of the Seventies, BBC Two.
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One thought on “Actor Dennis Waterman has died at the age of 74

  1. PLEASE NO DENNIS WATERMAN HAS DIED AGED 74 AS I REMEMBER HIM IN THAMES THE SWEENY AND MINDER HE WAS A TRUE KEGEND AND HE WILL BE SADKY MISSED REST IN PEACE DENNIS MY FRIEND!

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