Dennis Waterman — the British actor famous for his roles in TV shows The Sweeney, Minder and New Tricks — has died, aged 74.

Waterman, who started acting as a child, became a household name playing Detective Sergeant George Carter in police series The Sweeney in the 1970s, followed by the role

Terry McCann in the hit comedy-drama Minder for a decade from 1979 and then, for 12 years until 2015, he was Gerry Standing in New Tricks.

His family released a statement announcing his death on Sunday.

"We are deeply saddened to announce that our beloved Dennis passed away very peacefully in hospital in Spain on Sunday afternoon with his wife, Pam, by his side," the family's statement read.

The family kindly ask that our privacy is respected at this very difficult time." Former colleagues of Waterman's took to social media to pay their tributes

Comedic actor Matt Lucas remembered Water man's guest appearance in a Little Britain Live show at Hammersmith Apollo as "the absolute highlight of my career".

Born in London in 1948, Waterman was the youngest of nine children. He began his acting career at a young age, and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at the age of 12.

Waterman went on to marry Penny Dixon, a union that lasted nine years, then he married actress Patricia Maynard and their decade-long marriage produced two children, Hannah (an actress) and Julia.

He later married actress Rula Lenska and they stayed wedded for 12 years before his final marriage to Pam Flint in 2011.

He faced criticism after admitting to an incident of domestic violence on his third wife. Waterman leaves behind his fourth wife, Pam, and two daughters from his second marriage.