The soap star died on Friday morning.

Actor Leslie Grantham, who played “Dirty” Den Watts in EastEnders, has died aged 71.

A statement from his representative said: “We formally announce the loss of Leslie Grantham, who passed away at 10.20am on the morning of Friday 15 June 2018.

“His ex-wife and sons have asked for their privacy to be respected at this difficult time, and for there to be no approaches to them for information or comment.

Leslie Grantham
Leslie Grantham shot to fame playing Dirty Den in EastEnders (Yui Mok/PA)

“They will not be making any statements to the media. They also ask that no photographs be taken of them in their grief.

“There will be a private funeral which will be attended by close family and friends only.”

Leslie’s death comes days after he was reported to be in a critical condition in the UK having returned from Bulgaria, where he had been living.

According to The Sun, the screen star had been visited in hospital by close friends in the industry.

He left the UK after splitting with his wife of 31 years, Jane. In 2010, he spent time in Bulgaria filming TV series The English Neighbour.

Leslie shot to fame playing Den – check out ‘Dirty’ Den’s biggest storylines – in EastEnders, originally from 1985 to 1989.

A 1986 Christmas Day episode drew an audience of more than 30 million viewers, who watched as Den handed over divorce papers to on-screen wife Angie.

His character was apparently killed off in 1989 but made a shock return to Albert Square in 2003.