Dennis Waterman’s dark past: Actor once told Piers Morgan ‘not hard to hit a woman’

Minder star Dennis Waterman dies aged 74

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Dennis Waterman, the actor known for his roles in shows such as The Sweeney, Minder and New Tricks, has died aged 74. His agent released a statement today which 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”. Dennis is a familiar face on British television screens.

However, as highlighted by a throwback interview with Piers Morgan, his personal life was marred by controversy.

In 2012, Dennis appeared on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, and during the interview, he admitted to hitting his former wife, Rula Lenska, on two occasions.

He added: “She certainly wasn’t a beaten wife, she was hit and that’s different.”

Dennis also discussed the chaotic nature of their marriage, which ended in 1998.

He continued: “We were going through a horrible time and arguing a lot.

“The problem with strong, intelligent women is that they can argue, well. And if there is a time where you can’t get a word in… and I… I lashed out. I couldn’t end the argument.

“Something must have brought it on. When frustration builds up and you can’t think of a way out… It happened and I’m very, very ashamed of it.”

He tried to excuse his behaviour by stating: “It’s not hard for a woman to make a man hit her.”

After the interview, Teresa Parker, from Women’s Aid, said: “Dennis Waterman’s comment that ‘It’s not hard for a woman to make a man hit her’ shows he has completely taken away responsibility for the fact that he made the choice to hit her.

“He could have walked away. Everybody feels frustrated and angry sometimes, but most people do not hit their partners and know that domestic violence is unacceptable.”

Others voiced their disgust online. Fleet Street Fox, an anonymous tabloid journalist who writes a blog and was once a victim of domestic violence, accused Mr Waterman of downplaying the psychological damage caused by physical abuse.

She said: “Physically, I never had more than a bruise. But psychologically it took years to relearn the things everyone else takes for granted.”

After the interview, Rula’s agent and close friend Paul Pearson said she was “relieved” that Dennis had finally admitted what he had done.

He told the Mail at the time: “Rula had no idea Dennis was going to go on this show and talk about this — so it’s quite a shock.

“However, there’s also relief that, after all these years of his denials, he’s finally admitted domestic abuse on Rula. After all, she’s had to live with people thinking she was lying over it for all these years — because of his denials.”

Rula first accused Dennis of being violent in 1997.

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She said: “There were times when he hit me. They were always when he was very, very drunk. I simply couldn’t take it anymore. Even my daughter was repulsed by his behaviour.

“I left Dennis because he is violent when he drinks. In the last few years we were together it became a violent, abusive pattern. I never knew how he was going to be when he came home after he had been drinking. It was like living with two totally different people.

“I became the object of his hate. It got so bad that he became abusive to me and my daughter, and to me in front of my daughter.”

Today, Piers Morgan led tributes to Dennis.

He tweeted: “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.”

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