EastEnders and Hazell actor Nicholas Ball dies aged 78

Actor Nicholas Ball has died aged 78, his agent announced.

The star played gang lord Terry Bates in BBC soap EastEnders, who attacked Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor) while smashing up the Queen Victoria pub, and in the drama Footballers’ Wives took on the role of the chairman of the club and ex-rock star Garry Ryan.

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”.

Entertainment – Nicholas Ball and Pamela Stephenson – Heathrow Airport
Actor Nicholas Ball with actress Pamela Stephenson (PA)

He was 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.

Ball 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 adaptation The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous.

A statement on the social media page of EastEnders said: “We are saddened to hear that Nicholas Ball has passed away. Our thoughts are with Nicholas’s family and friends.”

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

He is survived by his widow Ayda.

Ball was previously married to comedian Sir Billy Connolly’s second wife, the comedy actress turned therapist Pamela Stephenson following them meeting on the set of Not The Nine O’Clock News.