Dennis Waterman died after secret two-year battle with lung cancer: Minder star’s second wife Patricia Maynard says he passed away ‘peacefully’ at his home in Spain and ‘did not suffer’ as she pays tribute
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline Patricia, mother of Waterman’s two daughters said: ‘I’m terribly sad that he’s gone but I’m really pleased that he did not suffer and died peacefully.
‘He had lung cancer and was really quite poorly for the last couple of years. The girls are very upset.’
Waterman, 74, passed away over the weekend as he was comforted by his fourth wife, Pam Flint.
Dennis Waterman’s second wife Patricia Maynard paid tribute to the Minder star today. Pictured, Patricia and Dennis with their daughter Hannah in 1978
Patricia added: ‘The years that Dennis and I were together were happy. Obviously, it didn’t work out but lots of marriages don’t work out for whatever reason.
‘But I’m so glad he had found the right woman at the end. I think he was very happy with Pam and she was with him when he passed.’
Tributes poured in for the legendary TV actor after news of his death was revealed by his family on Sunday.
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.
Dennis Waterman, right, was one of the most popular television actors of the 70s and 80s. Pictured here with Minder co-star George Cole
Waterman pictured in character as Terry McCann on location during filming of the television series Minder in London in October 1979
Born in Clapham, North London in 1948, Waterman went on to be married four times
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 but they later divorced.
Waterman then married Patricia in 1977 and had two daughters Hannah and Julia before the couple split and he later married actress Rula Lenska in 1987.
His third marriage fell apart ten years later and he married for a fourth time to Pam in 2011 after they had been friends for many years.
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.
George Cole (left) and Dennis Waterman pictured together in character as Arthur Daley and Terry McCann during filming of Minder
Waterman (left) and George Cole at the Theatre Royal in London in 1982. Waterman’s extensive career also included numerous stints on the stage
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.
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. Superb actor and a great character. Sad news.’
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.’
Dennis Waterman pictured leaving Reading Crematorium for the funeral of Minder co-star George Cole in 2015
Dennis Waterman and his wife Pam Flint arriving at Reading Crematorium for the funeral of George Cole in 2015
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’ Waterman was educated at the Corona Theatre School and began his showbiz career at a young age.
Waterman (centre) pictured with Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams for a special Comic Relief performance in 2006
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. 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.