EastEnders actor Nicholas Ball, who played Terry Bates, dies aged 78 after ‘short illness’

EastEnders star Nicholas Ball has died aged 78 after suffering from a short illness.

Ball was best known for playing Terry Bates on the long-running BBC soap. His character was a gang lord and leader of a football firm that was notorious for causing trouble, including the attack of pub proprietor Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor).

The actor, who hailed from Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, also appeared as club chairman Garry Ryan on season five of Footballers’ Wives in 2006, and as the lead detective James “Jim” Hazell in the crime series, Hazell.

In a statement announcing the news, Ball’s agent said the actor “passed away following a short illness”.

The official account for EastEnders shared a tribute to the late star, stating: “We are saddened to hear that Nicholas Ball has passed away. Our thoughts are with Nicholas’s family and friends.”

Ball played Terry on EastEnders between 2007 and 2009, before his character was arrested and found guilty of the murder of Jase Dyer (played by Stephen Lord) in one of the show’s biggest storylines.

Terry had taken Jase under his wing at a young age, but things turned sour when Jase, a former gang member who said he no longer wanted to be part of the group’s criminal activities, ended up stealing money from Terry. His character was written out of EastEnders and revealed to have died in 2019.

Shortly before his death, Ball had completed filming for countryside drama The Kingdom by the Sea in which he plays the lead role alongside Coronation Street actor Rula Lenska.

Nicholas Ball has died aged 78 (Steve Patriquen/PA)
Nicholas Ball has died aged 78 (Steve Patriquen/PA)

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

His roles on the big screen include war drama Overlord, thriller Rogue Male, crime drama The Krays: Dead Man Walking, and the Jilly Cooper adaptation The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous.

Fans reacted to the news of his death on social media, as they paid tribute to the star.

“Nicholas Ball was absolutely brilliant as Terry Bates in EastEnders. One of the show’s more underrated villains,” wrote one person on X/Twitter.

Another added: “Sorry to hear of the passing of Nicholas Ball. More commonly seen in our house in the TV series Hazell for me he will always be that conniving trickster (to put it mildly) in the Hammer House TV episode ‘The House That Bled to Death.’”

 (BBC/ EastEnders)
(BBC/ EastEnders)

Some may recognise the star’s voice from a number of audiobooks, which he narrated. Among the books to which Ball lent his voice are those by Christopher Hitchens and James Maybrick.

Ball is survived by his wife Ayda. The actor was previously married to Pamela Stephenson, Sir Billy Connolly’s second wife.