Nicholas Ball, known for playing Terry Bates in BBC’s EastEnders, has died aged 78, his agent has announced.

The star played the gang lord Terry Bates in the popular soap opera, who attacked Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor) while smashing up the Queen Victoria pub.

He also took on the role of the chairman of the club and ex-rock star Garry Ryan in the drama Footballers’ Wives.

In a statement, Ball’s agent said he “passed away following a short illness” and that his “successful acting career on stage and screen spanned an impressive six decades”.

Ball also played the lead in private detective show Hazell as the main character, James “Jim” Hazell, who is a cockney former policeman originally created by Gordon Williams and footballer Terry Venables, who wrote books under the name PB Yuill.

He also appeared in episodes of crime shows Jonathan Creek, Hustle, Heartbeat and Bergerac along with comedies Red Dwarf and The Young Ones and drama The Crezz.

He also had roles in small and big screen films including war drama Overlord, thriller Rogue Male, crime drama The Krays: Dead Man Walking and Jilly Cooper's adaptation The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous.

Recommended reading:

Ball recently filmed the 2024 rural-set drama The Kingdom By The Sea, opposite Coronation Street actress Rula Lenska.

Ball is survived by his widow Ayda.

He was previously married to comedian Sir Billy Connolly’s second wife, the comedy actress turned therapist Pamela Stephenson after they met on the set of Not The Nine O’Clock News.