Taking to Twitter on Monday, the Minder actor, 56, shared that his mother had passed away ‘peacefully in her sleep’ last Thursday four days after contracting Covid.
Gary also revealed that he is currently battling the virus alongside his son, Jack, 20. He also has younger son – Freddie, 17, with wife and former prime-time TV presenter, Wendy Turner, 53.
Heartbreaking: Former EastEnders star Gary Webster has revealed that his mother has died from coronavirus (pictured with wife Wendy Turner in 2005)
Posting a picture of his late mother sitting with wife Wendy to Twitter, Gary tweeted: ‘Thank so much to everyone for such beautiful support to my son & I as we recover from Covid.
‘Last Sunday my Mum also contracted the virus. 3 generations in a week. I am devastated to say my Mum didn’t make it & passed peacefully in her sleep last Thursday. She was much loved.’
Several of Gary’s celebrity pals and soap stars were quick to share their support and condolences to the star.
Gary played Graham Clark on EastEnders in 1987, he returned to the soap in 2016 to play Neville Peacock.
Sad: Taking to Twitter on Monday, the Minder actor, 56, shared that his mother had passed away ‘peacefully in her sleep’ last Thursday four days after contracting Covid (pictured with his wife and former prime-time TV presenter, Wendy Turner, 53)
He also took over Dennis Waterman’s sidekick role, Arthur Daley, on ITV’s Minder in 1991, where he played character Ray until 1994.
Emmerdale star Laura Norton wrote: ‘So sorry to hear this Gary. Sending love’ followed by a heart emoji.
Heartbeat actor Mark Moraghan put: ‘Sorry for your loss G. Thoughts with you and yours Pal x’.
EastEnders actress Lucy Benjamin said: ‘Omg Gary. I’m so sorry. Sending you all lots of love xxx’, while Kacey Ainsworth, who played Little Mo on the BBC One soap, added: ‘So sorry for you Gary xxx.’
Support: Several of Gary’s celebrity pals and soap stars were quick to share their support and condolences to the star
Broadcaster Jayne Sharp put: ‘Oh Gary, I’m so sorry. Sending you so much love’ followed by a red heart emoji.
Comedian Justin Moorhouse wrote: ‘So sorry. Love to all’ with actor Paul Clayton adding: ‘All love darling man.’
Just days earlier, on 8 January, Gary had told his 6,356 followers that he was ‘strictly isolating’ after testing positive with his son.
He wrote: ‘To all my friends & followers please dont think I’m ignoring anyone recently.
Isolating: Just days earlier, on 8 January, Gary had told his 6,356 followers that he was ‘strictly isolating’ after testing positive with his son
Family: Gary also revealed that he is currently battling the virus alongside his son, Jack, 20. He also has younger son – Freddie, 17, with wife and former prime-time TV presenter, Wendy Turner, 53 (pictured with his family in 2009)
‘It’s been a very sad & tough week part of which was my eldest son testing Covid positive on Tuesday & me testing positive yesterday. So strictly isolating. Please #WearMasks #SocialDistance.’
On Monday, Chris Whitty warned the next few weeks are set to be the worst yet for the NHS as the government begs people not to ‘push the boundaries’ of the lockdown – and threatens to make it even tougher.
The chief medical officer took to the airwaves to highlight the scale of the threat, saying that there are 30,000 people in hospital compared to the peak of 18,000 in April.
Amid a crackdown on stopping to chat in the street and in shops, Prof Whitty urged people to remember that ‘every unnecessary contact’ was an opportunity for the virus to spread.
He insisted that although the situation in the NHS is the ‘most dangerous situation anyone can remember’ vaccines mean the UK can be back to normal in ‘months not years’ – but he cautioned that the situation is a long way from that currently.
Escalation: Chief medical officer Chris Whitty took to the airwaves to highlight the scale of the threat, saying that there are 30,000 people in hospital compared to the peak of 18,000 in April
The intervention came amid fears that the number of daily deaths is on track to rise to 2,000, with Boris Johnson looking at tightening the national lockdown rules even more dramatically if cases keep surging.
The UK had announced a further 573 coronavirus deaths in the highest Sunday rise since April, and the third-deadliest Sunday of the entire pandemic as it emerged as many as one-in-five of all people in England may have had coronavirus.
It could be as high as one in two people in some areas of east London and Essex, the modelling by Edge Health claims.
Infections also continue to be high, with 54,940 announced yesterday – the thirteenth day in a row they have been above the 50,000 mark.
Just last year, Gary’s wife, Wendy, who is the younger sister of Anthea Turner, 60, told the Daily Mail how she and her husband went from TV golden couple to living in a car.
Roles: Gary starred on EastEnders and he also took over Dennis Waterman’s sidekick role, Arthur Daley, on ITV’s Minder in 1991, where he played character Ray until 1994 (pictured)
The couple had earned a fortune but bankruptcy, misfortune and a West African ‘business deal’ left them at one stage homeless.
Two hotels will be forever etched in their memories, the first is London’s luxurious Ritz hotel, where they exchanged wedding vows before a lavish party with ‘250 of their closest friends and family’ some 20 years ago.
The second is a far less salubrious Travelodge in South-West London, where the couple, with their two children, were forced to camp out for ten months after becoming homeless.
‘Knowing we were the price of one night in a hotel room away from finding ourselves on the streets has been unimaginably awful, to the point I’ve felt life is not worth living,’ recalled Wendy.
‘I have a husband and two sons, all of whom I love dearly, so never thought I’d get to a point in my life where I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up the following day. But that’s what happened.
‘I remember sitting alone in our room at the Travelodge, not daring to go out because of what I might do to myself.’
Siblings: Gary’s wife Wendy is pictured with older sister Anthea Turner, 60, in 2004
Today, thankfully, the family has finally found an understanding landlord who has rented them a three-bedroom terraced house, in South-West London.
Having at last achieved the relative security of a short-term tenancy agreement, Gary conceded that, while the couple have faced many challenges during their two decades together — including bankruptcy and ill health — they all pale into insignificance compared with the ‘unrelenting horror’ of the past year.
Back in March 1999, celebrity magazine OK! paid the couple, who met in 1997, tens of thousands of pounds for exclusive rights to cover their wedding.
At the time, Gary was landing regular TV roles — as well as a stint on EastEnders and Channel 5 soap Family Affairs, he famously took over the role of George Cole’s Minder from Dennis Waterman in 1991 — while Wendy presented Channel 4’s afternoon show Pet Rescue.
But while their money was seemingly easily earned, it was easier spent. Close friends and family say they made foolish business decisions — including one scheme with a West African government which, rather appropriately, sounds like something from a bad TV script.
It’s also clear they were poor at managing their finances. Bad luck, too, certainly played a part.
While there were many debts that took their toll, perhaps the worst is the sizeable £150,000 they borrowed from loved ones — among them Anthea — on the strength of £1.4 million they were expecting from that West African business deal.
It led to an estrangement from Anthea and other relatives two years ago.
To which Gary defiantly said: ‘We can’t wait to say to friends, and family on both sides: “If you want the money, here it is — but don’t expect to have us back in your lives, that ain’t ever going to happen.”
‘For some, the money seems to be more important than our wellbeing.’
Wendy, however, admitted that their friendship circle is now ‘very small’, and recognised Anthea, despite their estrangement, has helped them ‘a huge amount’ over the years.
‘Nothing would give me more pleasure than to get Anthea some money back,’ she said.
Indeed, many of their lifelines, famous and otherwise, had been exhausted in autumn 2018 when things came to a head and they were unable to pay their sizeable £2,000-a-month rent on their home in West London. Forced to move out, they were officially homeless.
Hence their move into the Teddington Travelodge, originally meant to be for just a few of nights.
But the days rapidly became months — and still the Turner-Websters struggled to do more than scrape together the nightly funds to pay for two rooms, one for Wendy and Gary, the other for their sons, Freddie and Jack.
Each night that passed meant a bill between £78 and £130 — a considerable burden, given their circumstances.
The hotel fee was scraped together from a mixture of earnings — Wendy produced and presented Crafty Beggars, a creative show on a small satellite channel for a meagre fee.
While Gary had recently filmed episodes for the Dumping Ground, a BBC children’s programme and still gets the occasional royalty cheque for Minder — as well as loans from patient family and friends still willing to help.
But there were terrible nights when ends would just not meet, and the couple had to sleep in their car, while their sons stayed with friends.
‘That really was rock bottom,’ said Wendy. ‘It took a few seconds after waking in the morning to realise it hadn’t been a nightmare, that we were homeless.’
Despite this humiliation, extraordinarily, they don’t look back on their early carefree days and wish they’d been thriftier.
After meeting while performing in pantomimes, they married with considerable fanfare at the Ritz. ‘The magazine was paying us, so we were able to invite everyone we’d ever known,’ recalled Gary.
‘We just wanted a lovely celebration and spent every penny. Our guests still remember it to this day.’
‘As do we,’ chipped in Wendy. ‘So, looking back, I don’t think: “Oh I wish we’d done that differently.”‘
Jack was born in 1999, followed by Freddie three years later.
Talking about their future plans at the time, Wendy said she was aiming to launch several businesses — one selling craft materials online and another linked to veganism (she has eaten a plant-based diet for 27 years) as well as TV work.
Gary, meanwhile, said, in true Only Fools And Horses style: ‘I think this time next year we will be millionaires.
‘Everyone will be paid back and we will have an Indian takeaway on a Saturday night without worrying about the expense or feeling guilty the next day.
‘I’m serious. There has to be a happy ending to this whole experience. We have to be able to inspire people — and look back and laugh.’