British actor Dennis Waterman - who starred in hit TV shows such as Minder, The Sweeney and New Tricks - has died at the age of 74.

Waterman starred as bodyguard Terry McCann in Minder and he first found fame as tough nut cop George Carter in The Sweeney.

A statement from his family said: "We are deeply saddened to announce that our beloved Dennis, passed away very peacefully in hospital in Spain, on Sunday afternoon, with Pam by his side.

"The family kindly ask that our privacy is respected at this very difficult time."

The Sweeney was a 1970s' police drama focusing on two members of the Flying Squad, a branch of the Metropolitan Police specialising in tackling armed robbery and violent crime in London.

John Thaw and Dennis Waterman in The Sweeney

It starred John Thaw as Detective Inspector Jack Regan, while Dennis Waterman played his partner, Detective Sergeant George Carter.

Minder ran from 1979 to 1994 and starred Waterman as Terry McCann, a Fulham fan, an honest and likeable bodyguard (minder in London slang) and George Cole as Arthur Daley, a highly unscrupulous importer/exporter, wholesaler, used-car salesman and purveyor of anything when there was money to be made.

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Waterman played 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, both for the BBC.

He became well-known for singing the theme songs to many of his shows, and was caricatured by David Walliams in Little Britain as a result.

His last film role was in Never Too Late in 2020, which was filmed in Australia.

Born in London, Waterman was educated at the Corona Theatre School, and began his showbiz career at a young age, and following a role for the Children's Film Foundation, 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.

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

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

"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," he told PA at the time.

His role in 2004’s 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.

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

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.

He had been married several times, including to the actress Rula Lenska until 1998, and his daughter, Hannah, became a TV star in her own right – landing a role in EastEnders as Laura Beale.

Actor and comedian Matt Lucas was among the people paying tribute to Waterman, writing in a tweet: "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."

Waterman’s 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.

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 Friends On Tour, which saw him take to the road alongside the likes of Sheena Easton and Gerard Kenny.