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Den Watts

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Dennis 'Den' Watts II was the husband of Angie, father of Dennis and Vicky, adoptive father of Sharon Mitchell (née Watts) and an anti-hero in the BBC Soap Opera EastEnders appeared in the first ever episode (and also speaking the first ever line) in 1985. He left in 1989 when assumed dead, but turned up in 2003 after a 14 year absence, only to meet his end for a second time a year and a half later.


Den Watts was introduced in the first episode in 1985 as the landlord of the Queen Vic pub which he ran with his wife Angie Watts. They also had an adoptive daughter called Sharon. Den and his mates Ali, Arthur and Pete discovered the body of Reg, an old man who had not been seen for days.

Den slept with Sharon's 16 year old friend Michelle Fowler, despite him being married and she gave birth to his daughter Vicky. Although he wasn't allowed to see his daughter apart from holding her once, he still supported them financially in secret. This caused a long running feud with Michelle's mother Pauline.

When Den planned to leave Angie, she made up a story that she had not long to live. Den decides to stay with her for support and tries to build back the relationship. During a trip on the Orient express Den overhears a drunken Angie admit to a barman (unaware of Den listening) that she wasn't really dying. Wanting revenge, he serves her divorce papers on Christmas Day. Den became involved with a criminal gang known as "The Firm" and allowed them to front in the Vic. When Pete's wife Kathy Beale is raped by James Willmott-Brown Den manipulates a firm member to burn down James' bar, which ends up with police attention. The Firm tell Den to take the blame for the arson. However they plot to kill him, but Den escapes and hands himself into the police. He is remanded in custody in September 1988 and builds himself as No. 1 in the prison despite some reluctance among inmates. On the outside the Firm still don't trust Den, feeling he will talk to the police about them.

In February 1989 when Den is being accompanied to a trial, the Firm attempt to kidnap him on route but he escapes and plans to flee the country. He meets Michelle by the canal to say goodbye, unaware that the Firm had followed her. She leaves, and when walking down the canal Den is shot by a man who has concealed a gun in daffodils. A splash is heard indicating Den had fallen into the canal. The police search the canal but don't find anything, but when Sharon finds a signet ring that had belonged to Den on a market stall which was found by the canal the police search once again, and find a body which is identified as Den's and buried.

In reality Den had escaped the Firm and with the help of ex-mistress Jan, managed to escape the country and fled to Spain. The body that was buried as Den's was that of Mr Vinnicombe, a senior member of the Firm who was murdered as punishment for Den's escape. Den lived in Spain for the next 14 years, and in 1999 married a woman called Chrissie, who would play a big part in his end 6 years later.

Den was tracked down by daughter Vicki after his illegitimate son Dennis Rickman (who had also worked for the Firm) found out Den was alive. Den returned in September 2003 shocking Sharon, who had mixed emotions when meeting him. Current acting boss of the firm Andy Hunt spares Den and allows things to drop, meaning Den could return to Walford.

During his return he got into a feud with Sharon's ex-boyfriend Phil Mitchell and set him up for a bank robbery which forced Phil to leave the area and go on the run. Den attempted to break up Dennis and Sharon's relationship and was involved in numerous affairs.

In February 2005 Den is killed by wife Chrissie after she hit him over the head with a doorstop. He is buried under the cellar for several months before being discovered and is given a proper burial.

In November 2015, it was revealed that Den was friends with Sharon's father Gavin Sullivan who gave him and Angie a newly born Sharon in return for a dodgy deal as Gavin didn't see himself as a father to Sharon and he knew that Den and Angie wanted to have children. He also told Den to say Hello Princess to Sharon as his way of saying hello to her.



  • Den Watts was introduced as one of 21 original characters in EastEnders, appearing in the very first episode on the 21st February 1985. Leslie Grantham was cast as the role, although there was controversy when it was revealed he killed a taxi driver in West Germany 20 years prior, in which he served a 10 year sentence. Nonetheless he continued in the role for 4 years and the character proved popular with viewers.
  • Grantham quit the role in 1988, and filmed a set of episodes over a few months which aired over the next year. Den exited the show in February 1989 in which he was shot by a gunman working for a crime organization known as "The Firm". This episode was originally to be Den Watt's death, although a scene which showed his body in a canal was cut out as producers hoped for a possible return in future. A year later a body was found and identified and buried as Den.
  • Since his departure Grantham got numerous offers for a return throughout the 1990s, but he turned them down when not satisfied with the storylines. But in 2003 he accepted a return as Den Watts, 14 years since his departure.
  • In 2004 Leslie Grantham was axed from the show after a webcam scandal. Den was killed off for good in an episode that aired in February 2005 to mark the show's 20th Anniversary. It was also 16 years since Den's original apparent demise. Despite reports that he was axed, an autobiography by Grantham claimed that Den's murder was planned since his 2003 return and that he was contracted for 18 months so his exit would tie with the show's anniversary.
  • In the Doctor Who episode Army of Ghosts which aired in 2006, EastEnders could be seen on TV which showed Peggy Mitchell telling the "ghost" of Den Watts to get out of her pub. Rose Tyler's mother Jackie briefly mentions the plotline, saying it started when Peggy heard a noise in the cellar, a reference to how Den Watts was buried in the cellar after his murder. However, later in the episode that the ghosts were in fact Cybermen.
    • Leslie Grantham actually appeared in Doctor Who in the 1984 story Resurrection of the Daleks as Kiston.
  • Den's well known greeting to Sharon: Hello princess, was used again in EastEnders in an episode broadcast on 30 October 2015 by Gavin Sullivan when revealing to Sharon that he was her father.

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