The actor who played one of the most iconic characters of 'EastEnders' has sadly passed away today following a short illness.

Leslie Grantham was famous for his role of 'Dirty' Den Watts on the BBC soap, playing the character from 1985-1989 and again from 2003 to 2005.

The episode where Den famously handed divorce papers to his wife Angie on Christmas Day in 1987 is still the soap's most watched episode.

A statement released by a representative said: "We formally announce the loss of Leslie Grantham, who passed away at 10.20am on the morning of Friday, June 15, 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. 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."

Since 'EastEnders', Grantham had worked on the Bulgarian TV series 'The English Neighbour' and had recently returned to the UK to film a low-budget movie about the Kray Twins.