AceShowbiz - EastEnders' show bosses have led tributes to Leslie Grantham, who has died aged 71.
The news comes days after it was reported the actor, who played "Dirty" Den Watts in the British soap, was fighting for his life in hospital after returning to the U.K. from Bulgaria where he had been living.
According to editors at The Evening Standard, his representative confirmed his passing in a statement on Friday, June 15. The cause of death has not been announced.
"We formally announce the loss of Leslie Grantham, who passed away at 10.20am on the morning of Friday 15th June 2018," the statement reads. "His ex-wife and sons have asked for their privacy to be respected at this difficult time. There will be a private funeral which will be attended by close family and friends only."
John Yorke, executive consultant on "EastEnders", has led tributes to the actor.
"Everyone at EastEnders is deeply saddened to hear that Leslie has passed away," he said. "We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and friends at this extremely difficult time."
While his former co-star Tracy-Ann Oberman who played Chrissie Watts, the second wife of the Queen Vic landlord in the BBC soap from 2004 to 2005, tweeted: "Really sorry to hear about Leslie Grantham. A very very good actor and one who created an iconic character with Dirty Den #RIPLeslieG".
Really sorry to hear about Leslie Grantham. A very very good actor and one who created an iconic character with Dirty Den #RIPLeslieG— Tracy Ann Oberman (@TracyAnnO) June 15, 2018
Former co-stars also shared their memories, as actor Jay Grainger said: "Sad to hear today of the passing of Leslie Grantham - was a pleasure to have known and worked with. Thanks for your wisdom. R.I.P."
Sad to hear today of the passing of Leslie Grantham - was a pleasure to have known and worked with. Thanks for your wisdom. R.I.P. pic.twitter.com/92UBLQPSPh— Jay grainger (@jaygrainger) June 15, 2018
And Vas Blackwood added: "R I P Leslie Grantham. I had the pleasure of working with him once. Condolences to his family."
R I P Leslie Grantham. I had the pleasure of working with him once. Condolences to his Family.— Vas Blackwood (@VasBlackwood) June 15, 2018
Grantham shot to fame while playing Watts in the BBC soap opera, originally from 1985 to 1989.
A 1986 Christmas Day episode of the soap drew in an audience of more than 30 million viewers, who watched as Watts handed over divorce papers to his onscreen wife, Angie (Anita Dobson).
The character was killed off in 1989 but made a shock return to Albert Square in 2003.
Former soldier Grantham divorced his wife of 31 years, Jane Laurie, in 2013 and is survived by his three adult children.