What happened to Dirty Den in EastEnders and who killed him?

23 June 2020, 18:30 | Updated: 23 June 2020, 18:31

Dirty Den was killed twice
Dirty Den was killed twice. Picture: BBC

Who killed Dirty Den and did he return to EastEnders? Find out everything…

Dirty Den Watts became one EastEnders' biggest villains after he manipulated half the Square, slept with his son’s girlfriend and even came back from the dead.

The character broke viewing records on Christmas day in 1986, when he handed wife of 19 years Angie divorce papers.

This episode was watched by more than half of the UK population at the time (30 million people) and has gone down in soap history.

But as we relive this iconic moment, what happened to Dirty Den (Leslie Grantham) on the soap and who played him? Here’s everything you need to know…

Who killed Dirty Den in EastEnders?

Dirty Den was such an iconic character that he actually suffered two deaths on the soap.

Back in 1989, he ran away from Albert Square after four years, when a criminal gang called The Firm tried to kill him.

Read More: Where is Zoe Slater from EastEnders now?

In dramatic EastEnders fashion, he was shot with a gun hidden in a bunch of daffodils and adopted daughter Sharon was left to identify his body.

Despite this, Den returned from the dead in 2003 after it turned out he had been living in Spain.

Following a very intense reunion with Sharon, Den moved back to the square with his new wife Chrissie Watts.

Den Watts was on EastEnders at the very beginning in 1985
Den Watts was on EastEnders at the very beginning in 1985. Picture: PA Images

Unfortunately for Den, he was on borrowed time and wife Chrissie actually ended up killing him off for good.

After uncovering he had slept with his son Dennis’ girlfriend Zoe Slater, Chrissie found out Zoe is pregnant and persuaded her to abort his baby.

Read More: When will EastEnders be back on after the final pre-lockdown episode airs?

She then teamed up with Zoe and Den’s other ex lover Sam Mitchell and the three women confronted the landlord after closing time in the Queen Vic.

When his daughter Sharon came round, she overheard them all arguing and found out what her dad was really like.

After Sharon disowned Den, he became furious and attacked the women, before Zoe hit him over the head.

Dirty Den was murdered by his estranged wife Chrissie
Dirty Den was murdered by his estranged wife Chrissie. Picture: BBC

But while Zoe thought she had killed him and later fled Walford for Ibiza, it was actually Chrissie who dealt the killer blow.

The 20th-anniversary episode of EastEnders was watched by over 17 million viewers in February 2005.

Chrissie later pleaded guilty to murder and went to jail, while Den was buried in his first grave next to wife Angie.

Who played Dirty Den in EastEnders?

Dirty Den was played by actor Leslie Grantham who passed away in June 2018 aged 71.

Leslie had the opening line in the first episode of EastEnders in 1985 and was an integral part of the show.

Tributes were paid to the star at the time, with Anita Dobson, who played his on-screen wife Angie Watts in EastEnders, telling BBC News that her former co-star was "the archetypal charming rogue".

Leslie Grantham and Letitia Dean in 2003
Leslie Grantham and Letitia Dean in 2003. Picture: PA Images

She said: "He was a good-looking guy, he was a charmer, he was funny, he was a good actor. And he was fun to be around, we were good mates.

"But I think there's always that kind of look about him that you just didn't know what he was going to do next, and that was his ace in the hole, there was always that bit about him that was slightly unpredictable, which I liked and what gave him the edge on TV."

Letitia Dean, who played Den's daughter Sharon, also released a statement saying: "I have very special memories of working with Leslie and will cherish them always. He and Anita looked after me in my early days and showed me the ropes, always with care and kindness.

"He never failed to make me laugh and I will remember him with love, affection and gratitude forever. See you up there Leslie!"

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