Call The Midwife’s trailblazing Down’s Syndrome star Daniel Laurie’s famous father is revealed as Leslie Grantham who played ‘Dirty Den’ Watts in EastEnders
- The actor, 25, has played Reggie Jackson on the 1960s drama since 2017, and also starred in popular shows such as Vera, Stella and Finding Alice
- Actor Leslie married Jane Laurie in 1981 and had three sons – Daniel, Spike and Jake – before they divorced in 2013
- In a 2006 interview with the Daily Mail, Jane praised Leslie as a ‘fantastic’ dad
- During a 2014 interview, Daniel spoke about having Down’s syndrome, saying: ‘Basically having Down’s syndrome is kinda cool. To me it’s absolutely cool’
- Leslie played ‘Dirty Den’ on EastEnders from 1985 to 1989, before returning to the soap from 2003 to 2005, when his character was killed off
- He sadly passed away in 2018 after a battle with lung cancer at the age of 71
He has played the role of Reggie Jackson in Call The Midwife since 2017.
And trailblazing Down’s Syndrome star Daniel Laurie comes from an acting family, as his late father has been revealed as Leslie Grantham who played ‘Dirty Den’ Watts in EastEnders.
Actor Daniel, 25, has also starred in popular shows such as Vera, Stella and Finding Alice.
Family: Call the Midwife star Daniel Laurie’s famous father has been revealed as Leslie Grantham who played ‘Dirty Den’ Watts in EastEnders (Daniel is pictured)
All together: Leslie married Jane Laurie in 1981 and had three sons – Daniel (centre), Spike (right) and Jake (left)- before they divorced in 2013, with Daniel choosing to use his mother’s surname
Leslie married Jane Laurie in 1981 and had three sons – Daniel, Spike and Jake – before they divorced in 2013, with Daniel choosing to use his mother’s surname.
Talking about when she found out she was pregnant with him, Jane explained: ‘I told him [Leslie] I was expecting another baby – and that I was sure it had Down’s Syndrome.
‘He was shocked, because a third child had simply never been on the agenda, but when I suggested perhaps we should have a test to find out about the Down’s Syndrome, Leslie shook his head and said firmly: ‘Whatever we get, it’s our baby’.’
In a 2006 interview with the Daily Mail, Jane praised Leslie as a ‘fantastic’ dad, saying: ‘When he was just a few days old, Leslie looked down at the baby and said ‘you know, there are some hard things in life, but this isn’t one of them’.’
Although Leslie himself was notoriously private when it came to his family life, the late actor did speak about his son occasionally.
Speaking about Daniel having Down’s syndrome during an interview with The Guardian in 2003, Leslie hailed his son as ‘fantastic’, saying: ‘We didn’t know [he had Down’s syndrome] before he was born, but it wouldn’t have made a difference. He’s fantastic.’
Seven years earlier during an interview with The Mirror, he said he is ‘proud and very lucky to have been given Daniel’.
Leslie added: ‘He’s obviously got some problems, but they’re negligible compared with other people’s. My philosophy is that even a blind man knows when the sun’s shining. Measured by that, Danny’s got no problems at all.’
He continued: ‘I have three of the best kids around. They drive me mad, but I’m also lucky to have a wife who is a superb mother.’
After Danny was born, Leslie became a fund-raiser for the Down’s Syndrome Association.
‘It’s adults who need to realise how special these children are,’ the EastEnders star said. ‘His brothers are fantastic with him – a lot better than most adults.’
Tragic: Leslie (pictured) sadly passed away in 2018 after a battle with lung cancer at the age of 71
During Call the Midwife’s sixth season, Daniel joined playing the part of Reggie who goes to live with his uncle Fred Buckle after his mother’s death.
His time on the show explored the taboos and stigma attached to the arrival of a child with Down’s syndrome in the 1960s, with fans praising the ‘powerful’ and ‘sensitive’ story line.
During a 2014 interview, Daniel spoke about having Down’s syndrome, saying: ‘Basically having Down’s syndrome is kinda cool. To me it’s absolutely cool. I so yeah, that’s how I’ve got Down’s syndrome… and you absolutely crack me up.’
Leslie sadly passed away in 2018 after a battle with lung cancer at the age of 71.
The TV star had just before his death returned to the UK for treatment after living for some time in Bulgaria.
Marriage: Leslie and Jane are pictured together in 1989 eight years after tying the knot
Unit: Jane is pictured with her three sons L-R Spike, Daniel and Jake in 2007 who she shares with Leslie
A statement from his representative announcing his death said: ‘We formally announce the loss of Leslie Grantham, who passed away at 10.20am on the morning of Friday 15th June 2018.’
Grantham had been visited by close friends from TV in the weeks before his death and he told some he had terminal cancer.
Grantham became famous playing Watts in EastEnders, originally from 1985 to 1989.
A 1986 Christmas Day episode drew an audience of more than 30 million viewers, who watched as Watts handed over divorce papers to on-screen wife Angie.
Love: Leslie is seen off by his wife Jane as he leaves his home in Wimbledon in 2004 before their divorce
Role: Grantham became famous playing Watts in EastEnders, originally from 1985 to 1989 (pictured with on-screen wife Angie)
Smile: Jane is pictured with two of her three sons Daniel and Spike on a family holiday in 2018
His character was apparently killed off in 1989 but made a shock return to Albert Square in 2003.
Grantham had originally been a soldier, having enlisted in the British Army in 1965 and being sent to West Germany with the Royal Fusiliers.
In 1966, however, he was involved in a struggle with a taxi driver he was attempting to rob in Osnabruck, Lower Saxony.
The driver, Felix Reese, was shot in the head and died and, in 1967, Grantham was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
It was during his time behind bars – he spent ten years in British jails – that he first took to acting.
Speaking about his past in 2016, Grantham said: ‘Life isn’t a straight line. It’s like travelling the motorway. Every now and then, you have to take a diversion. Unfortunately, some of my diversions have been quite catastrophic. But I’m safe in the knowledge that what I do now is good.
Story: Grantham had originally been a soldier, having enlisted in the British Army in 1965 and being sent to West Germany with the Royal Fusiliers (pictured in 2016)
‘Of course I have regrets, but you can’t go round wearing a hair shirt all your life, otherwise you’ll never get out of bed in the morning. I f***** up, now I’m going to move on.’
In 2004, Grantham was exposed by a Sunday newspaper after he took part in webcam chats while performing a sex act.
He apologised to his family for the embarrassment but later said he was ‘set up’.
Grantham said he was so devastated after the scandal that he attempted suicide.
Success: Daniel (centre) has played the role of Reggie Jackson in Call the Midwife since 2017
Versatile: Daniel has starred in several shows in his 20s and is pictured in the 2021 ITV drama Finding Alice
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