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Hello Princess!
~ Den Watts' famous catchphrase whenever he speaks to his adopted daughter Sharon.
Oh, you could keep this performance up for a lifetime. Like on the Orient Express. Like in the bar, chatting up the barman. 'Oh, I've told my husband this terrible lie. Not a little white one, but a big black one'. Remember Ange? Because I do, because I was sitting four feet away from you lapping up every word. Six little months to live. Six tragic little months, and poor old Angie's gonna pop off. That has got to be the sickest joke you've ever played, and Den Watts fell for it. Well now the joke's on you. This, my sweet, is a letter from my solicitor telling you that your husband has filed a petition for divorce. It also tells you to get yourself a solicitor pretty damn quick. Happy Christmas, Ange!
~ Dirty Den handing his first wife Angie divorce papers.
You'll never get me out of the Vic!
~ Dirty Den's last words before he is ultimately killed by his second wife Chrissie.

Dennis "Den" Watts, also known by tabloid nickname "Dirty Den", is a fictional character and the premier protagonist villain of the long-running BBC Soap Opera EastEnders. He is also regarded as one of the show's and British television's greatest and most iconic characters of all-time.

He appeared on the show's first ever episode (and also spoke the first ever line) in 19th February 1985 and served as the show's central protagonist villain up until his first exit on 23rd February 1989, wherein he was allegedly killed-off. However, the character later returned on 29th September 2003 and reprised his role as the show's became the show's protagonist villain/central antagonist until he was ultimately killed-off in the show's 20th anniversary special dated 18th February 2005.

He was portrayed by the late Leslie Grantham.


The character Den Watts, also famously known as "Dirty Den", originally appeared as the first landlord of The Queen Victoria public house in Albert Square on the fictional borough of Walford in East London. He was also the estranged husband of his first wife Angie Watts and the adopted father of Sharon Watts at that time.

In his first stint throughout 1985-1989, Den's story arc mostly explored the breakdown of his marriage with Angie - which involved him serving Angie divorce papers in the show's first ever Christmas dated episode watched by over 30 million viewers at the time (thus making it the most watched event in British television history). Other storylines in the 1980s saw Den having an affair with his mistress Jan Hammond; getting Sharon's 16-year-old best-friend Michelle Fowler pregnant with his biological daughter Vicki Fowler; becoming sworn enemies with Michelle's mother Pauline Fowler; clashing with local villain Nick Cotton; and being involved with the square's gangland organization known as The Firm, whose unseen leader Jack Dalton later orders for Den to be killed after he uses one of their members to help take revenge on business rival James Willmott-Brown for raping Kathy Beale - the wife of Den's best-friend Pete Beale. The latter scenario would lead to arguably one of soaps' greatest all-time exits, wherein Den gets shot in the canal and is presumed dead for 14 years.

In his second stint in 2003-2005, Den first returned after being presumed dead for 14 years and saw his relationship with Sharon being rekindled. He also interacted with his other daughter Vicki Fowler and her half-brother Dennis Rickman after it had transpired that the latter is Den's long-lost son who is partly responsible for his father's return after killing Dalton earlier on. Den's storylines in his second stint involved a feud with Sharon's lover Phil Mitchell; waging war against the Mitchell family that leads to him conning Phil's sister Sam from the family's ownership of The Queen Vic; cheating on his second wife Chrissie Watts with Phil's ex-wife Kate Morton; having a conflict with Sam's gangland husband Andy Hunter; and blackmailing Dennis' girlfriend Zoe Slater into sleeping with him. Eventually, Den was killed-off for a second time by Chrissie in the show's 20th anniversary special - also the same episode where Andy gets murdered by fellow crime boss Johnny Allen in coincidental circumstances.

Character development and impact

Despite the controversy surrounding Grantham, the Watts, with Anita Dobson as the newly appointed Angie, were the surprise hit characters of the show. Angie and Den were a live-wire couple whose on/off relationship made the Queen Vic pub exciting and unpredictable and the viewers tuned in their millions to watch the destruction of their relationship on-screen. Den's clashes with Angie brought EastEnders to a peak of popularity and toppled rival soap Coronation Street from the top of the ratings chart.



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 best friend Pete Beale, along with their friends Arthur Fowler and Ali Osman, discovered the body of Reg Cox - an old man who had not been seen for days. It secrectly transpired that Reg had been murdered by local villain Nick Cotton, with whom Den and Pete clashed with on multiple occasions.

Soon enough, Arthur's 16-year-old daughter and Sharon's best friend Michelle Fowler is pregnant; the father of her baby is later revealed to be Den. This secrect continues even when Michelle gets married to Den's employee Lofty Holloway, and later gives birth to her and Den's daughter Vicki. Although he wasn't allowed to see his daughter apart from holding her once, Den still supported them financially in secret. This soon caused a long running quarrel 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 later becomes involved with a criminal gang known as The Firm, and eventually gives up tenancy of the Vic in order to serve as manager of the Strokes wine bar, which is used by The Firm as a front for illegal gambling.

By then, Den finds himself involved in a conflict with his business rival James Willmott-Brown. This soon escaltes when James develops a romantic obsession on Pete's wife Kathy before he later rapes her one night. After learning about it and finding Kathy in a traumatic state, Den seeks revenge on Willmott-Brown and achieves this by tricking the Firm's errand boy Brad Williams into burning down Willmott-Brown's wine bar called The Dagmar. However, The Firm are left angry with Den as he had instigated police attention onto their criminal activities following the incident. Den is authorized to take the blame for the arson, but he soon learns that The Firm plans to eliminate him; 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.

However, the Firm still don't trust Den as they believe that he will grass them up to the police - henceforth they decide to kill Den for good. 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; this time they find a body, which is identified as Den and the corpse is subsuqently buried.


14 years later, however, it is revealed that Den is actually alive; in reality he had escaped the Firm and, with the help of ex-mistress Jan, manages to abscond the country and flee to Spain. Once more the body that was buried as Den's was that of The Firm's co-leader Mr. Vinnicombe, who was murdered on the orders of The Firm's leader Jack Dalton after being implicated as a scapegoat in Den's escape. Den lived in Spain for the next 14 years, and in 1999 he married a woman called Chrissie.

In 2003, Den was tracked down by Vicki after her half-brother Dennis Rickman found out that he was alive. It had earlier transpired that Dennis was Den's illegitimate son, as a result of Den's fling with Dennis' late mother Paula. By the time he turned 16, Dennis was groomed by Dalton into working for him for many years. In September 2003, Den returned to the square and surprised Sharon by saying "Hello Princess".

She had mixed emotions when reuniting with her adoptive father; happy that he was alive and not dead, but angry for all the deception he put her through as well as hiding the fact that he slept with Michelle and got her pregnant with Vicki. The two get into an argument that ends with Sharon telling Den that Dennis is his son. Thereafter Den comes face-to-face with Dennis, after which he learns that Dennis killed Dalton when the latter tried to have him murdered. Later on Den gets confronted by two armed gangsters working for The Firm and is taken to meet their current leader, Andy Hunter, at Dalton's nightclub called The Imperial Rooms. There, Andy spares Den and allows him to stay in Walford. Afterwards, Den reconciles with Sharon before reuniting with Vicki and Dennis back in the square.

By the next day, the square learns about Den's return and he reunites with some old faces - including with Pete and Kathy's son Ian as well as both Nick's mother Dot and longtime neighbour Pat Butcher. It is then Den learns that Sharon's ex-boyfriend, Phil Mitchell, is his successor as the square's reigning top-dog as well as the owner of The Queen Vic. Den later meets Phil and they begin a feud when the former attempts to reclaim The Queen Vic from the latter. The two seemingly put their differences aside when they do an armed robbery together, but Den betrays Phil by sabotaging his getaway before revealing that he staged the entire event in an elaborate plan to get Phil banged up - thereby allowing Den to regain his status as the square's undisputed top-dog. Den then escapes with the money, whereas Phil gets arrested and charged for armed robbery. Phil vows to kill Den for this and later manages to escape prison just before Christmas 2003. Then on Christmas Day, Phil confronts and punches Den; the two fight and Den knocks Phil down by hitting him with a chair. Den then offers to let Phil escape with the money they robbed in exchange for calling it quits; Phil is forced to agree in order to escape. In the end, Den celebrates Christmas with his family while Phil manages to escape Walford from the police.

Afterwards, Den goes away for a few months before returning in March 2004. He is startled to learn that Dennis and Sharon have started romancing with each other. Den resolves to break them up, declaring it to be incest despite the fact that the two of ther weren't related. He seemingly achieves this, and for the next few weeks continues to settle in the square until Chrissie reappears. They patch things up and she stays to support his family. However, Den cannot remain faithful and he starts an affair with Phil's wife Kate Morton. He also supports Pat over her feud with her stepdaughter Janine Butcher for killing fellow steprelative Barry Evans and tormenting Ian's wife Laura Beale before the latter died. Eventually, Chrissie discovers Den's affair with Kate and leaves him. Den soon contracts Chrissie for a reconcilation, but she refuses and he decides to leave the square on his own to recoup his thoughts.

In November 2004, Den returns and manages to reconcile with Chrissie; she threatens to kil him if he cheats on her again. He also reconciles with his children and forces Vicki's boyfriend, Tommy Grant, to leave Walford in retribution for cheating on her. It is then Den manages to successfully reclaim ownership of The Queen Vic by conducting an elaborate scheme to financially bankrupt Phil's empire, which is now managed by his sister Sam. First he blackmails the Mitchell's family lawyer Marcus Christie into collaborating with his scheme by tricking Sam into selling all of her family assets under the guise of Phil needing money for a getaway to escape police trouble. This works successfully and Den, having conned Sam out of her family's ownership of the pub, becomes the landlord of The Queen Victoria public house once more.

Den attempts to celebrate Christmas in the pub with his family, only to learn that Dennis and Sharon have resumed their romance and plan to elope from Walford. He manages to split them up again by making Dennis' girlfriend, Zoe Slater, fabricate a lie that she is pregnant with Dennis' baby. Den then expects Dennis and Zoe to leave the country, but this backfires when Sharon decides to go instead. While he attempts to convince Sharon otherwise, Den admits that he doesn't love Vicki as much as he loves Sharon - not knowing that Vicki has overheard this. Vicki, shocked to learn what he father had just said, disowns him before leaving the coutry with Sharon.

In 2005, Zoe confronts Den over the lie when she fears that Dennis may discover the truth because he will not have sex with her. Den then forces Zoe to have sex with him in order to maintain his lie, only for Dennis to later discover the truth about their lie after catching them in bed. Dennis also disowns his father before telling Chrissie that her husband has slept with his girlfriend. Chrissie thereupon vows revenge on Den. She assembles Zoe and Sam to confront Den for his actions towards them. This happens on the night of Den and Angie's 37th wedding anniversary, when Chrissie attempts to blackmail Den into relinquishing ownership of the pub to her in exchange for not revealing his crimes. Den dismisses the threat before openly revealing all his faults, not knowing that Sharon has overheard him; Sharon had been tricked by Chrissie into coming back to Walford under the guise that her father is dying. Sharon thereupon disowns Den and, despite his pleas for her to stay, leaves the square once more.

With Sharon having finally turned on him, Den appears defeated and heads back into the pub where Chrissie begins taunting him. Den then flies into a rage and attacks Chrissie, which prompts Zoe to knock him down with Pauline's doggy doorstop. Zoe checks his pulse and confirms he is dead. Chrissie then orders Sam and Zoe to make sure nobody comes in to see what has happened. When alone, Chrissie taunts Den again before she starts to leave - only for Den to suddenly reemerge and grab her ankle. He tells her "You'll never get me out of the Vic" before she manages to pick up the doorstop and hit Den on the head with it, finally killing him as he dies instantly from the blow.

In that moment, however, Sam witnessed Chrissie deliver the killing blow. A feud erupts between the two women when Chrissie makes Zoe believe that she killed Den. But when Zoe learns the truth and flees the country, Chrissie frames Sam for the crime. The square then discovers the truth about Den on the day Dennis and Sharon get married. Later on, Sam's mother Peggy returns before Den's funeral to exonerate Sam and expose Chrissie as his real killer. Peggy's campaign continues until both Phil and his brother, Grant Mitchell, return to help convince Sharon and Dennis the truth about their father. This works successfully and, together with the help from cousin Billy Mitchell, they all succeed in bringing Chrissie to justice; as she ultimately gets arrested and is later jailed for Den's murder, despite the efforts from her boyfriend Jake Moon to escape her the country.

On New Year's Eve 2005, Dennis is killed by Jake's brother Danny Moon under the orders of their crime boss Johnny Allen. Later on Phil and Grant work together to avenge Dennis' death by bringing Johnny to justice, which they succeed in doing after Johnny is forced by his daughter Ruby Allen to turn himself into the police for ordering Dennis' death as well as killing Andy on the night Den died. A few months later, Dennis' death is avenged when Johnny dies of a heart attack caused by Ruby's boyfriend Sean Slater. That same day, Ruby and Jake argue over the fact that he killed Danny on the day Johnny was arrested to stop him from executing the Mitchell Brothers; Ruby brings up Den's murder in the ensuing argument, and Jake responds that Chrissie never meant to kill Den in the first place.

In November 2015, it was revealed that Den was friends with Sharon's biological father Gavin Sullivan in the past; Gavin had given Sharon to both Den and Angie in exchange for Den doing a criminal job with him, as Gavin didn't see himself as a father and also knew that Den and Angie wanted to have children. Gavin also told Den to say 'Hello Princess' to Sharon as his way of greeting her. 

"Dirty Den"

In 1985, Den was the first person to speak on the first episode of EastEnders: "Stinks in here dunnit?" just before he found out that Reg Cox had been murdered. Early on in the series, the character of Den became central to the programme and was the focus of a controversial storyline involving the teenage pregnancy of Michelle Fowler. Press interest in the show escalated as journalists continuously tried to predict who had fathered Michelle's baby. In true whodunnit fashion, the audience had been kept in the dark as to the real identity of the father and were given teasers implicating several residents on the Square. The audience finally discovered the culprit in episode 66 of the programme, October 1985. The episode was written by series co-creator/script editor Tony Holland and directed by co-creator/producer Julia Smith, and was considered to be a landmark episode in the show's history. Four possible suspects were seen leaving the Square in the early half of the episode: Tony Carpenter, Ali Osman, Andy O'Brien and Den Watts. As Michelle waited by their rendezvous point a car pulled up and finally the fluffy white legs of Roly the poodle bounded out of the car, and gave it all away: Den Watts was the man meeting Michelle and it was he who had fathered her baby. It was when Den was revealed as the father that his famous nickname "Dirty Den" was created by the British press. The rest of the episode consisted of just one long scene, where Den and Michelle discussed whether or not to keep the baby. Up to that time it was the longest scene ever done in a soap-opera, lasting fifteen minutes. For a series that in its first eight months of existence had established a reputation for being fast-moving and rapidly cut, this was a bold experiment. It relied on just the one story and two actors to hold the audience for over half an episode. Tony Holland's handling of the awkward scene between a teenage girl and the father of her best friend is deemed as one of the highlights of EastEnders first year. The finishing touch was the use of an alternative end title music, a variation of the normal one which replaced the dramatic drum beats with a longer, gentler piano solo introduction.

After this storyline the programme started to appear in newspaper cartoons as it moved more and more into the public mainstream. One such cartoon showed the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, telling her cabinet that the best way to alert the country to the dangers of AIDS was to give the disease to Den.

Den and Angie mania

During 1986 the series became dominated by Den and Angie's storylines and the focus of the programme was very much concentrated on their combustible relationship. The emphasis began early in 1986 with the arrival of Den's mistress Jan Hammond. Jan had been a powerful off-screen presence for the first year, a menacing voice at the end of the telephone, which severely affected the mood of both Den and Angie and kept the audience on edge every time the phone rang. Jan's physical arrival at the Vic in January 1986 was one of the show's dramatic highlights. Her invasion of Angie's territory was a springboard to future emotional fireworks and a precursor to Angie's further dependence on alcohol and her attempted suicide.

Den and Angie's traumatic two-hander episode in October 1986 was another risky experiment for EastEnders — A thirty-minute episode with only two people in it had never been attempted in a soap before. Holland and Smith feared that the episode would not hold up, however press and audience alike were in agreement that it did. Once it was done, it set a precedent and the programme has featured two-handers ever since. The episode was structured like a "tennis match" between Angie and Den, with a non-speaking window-cleaner forever strolling innocently into the action. It began with Den trying to tell Angie that he wanted a divorce. Angie was shocked and for a moment defeated, but she then dropped her bombshell and told Den that she only had six months to live. At first Den didn't believe her, but eventually Angie's hysterical performance convinced him. He crumbled and promised to stay with her and only after he left did Angie smile in triumph, letting the audience in on her secret that it was all a big lie. Written by Jane Hollowood and directed by Antonia Bird, this episode is considered to be one of the finest episodes in EastEnders' catalogue.

The Den/Angie/Jan triangle was to continue for many months. The climax was a trip to Venice when Angie — convinced that Den had finished with his mistress — was taken there for a second honeymoon, returning to London on the Orient Express. This gave the writers and producers an opportunity to open the show up from the confines of Albert Square. However the trip to Venice was fraught with problems and Dobson, Grantham and Jane How were hounded by the press at all times. Their photographs appeared in British newspapers, thus ruining the shock surprise that Tony Holland had created, by including Den's mistress in the episode.[3] Despite huge efforts from all involved the Venice episodes were only moderately successful, although the revelations discovered by Den in the episode set the scene for one of EastEnders' most renowned episodes, which aired on Christmas Day that year. After over-hearing his wife confess that her illness was fabricated, Den filed for divorce. 30.1 million viewers tuned in on Christmas Day in 1986, to witness Den handing Angie her divorce papers, giving the soap its highest ever episode rating, which has yet to be beaten by any other plotline from any other soap in the UK.

This storyline saw the separation of Den and Angie. Holland and Smith had anticipated that Den and Angie would be popular, but they had not guessed how hysterical the reaction to them would be. It was decided that Den and Angie would have to be played down for a while so that other characters would have the opportunity to shine through. The next few years saw Den and Angie struggle to get by without each other and eventually they reunited as business partners.

Arrest and demise

However, at the beginning of 1988 Anita Dobson decided that she wanted to move on after three years playing Angie. She made her final appearance in May that year. Leslie Grantham had also decided that he wanted to move on, but Julia Smith didn't want the programme to suffer the double blow of losing both Den and Angie so close together. The solution to the problem was one of the soap's most complex and creative exercises, that required intricate planning. The idea was to enable Den to stay as an on-screen presence until 1989, while keeping Grantham working for EastEnders only until the autumn of 1988. Tony Holland and writer/editor Bill Lyons came up with a story to put Den in prison for a year, intending that material recorded in a block of intensive filming would then be included in the programme for the rest of the year. The programme didn't want to make Den into a criminal, however, so he had to be put in prison for doing something that could be justified to the viewing public — otherwise there would be no sympathy for him. The answer lay in a storyline that was running with another character — the rape of Kathy Beale. After simultaneously getting in way over his head with a criminal organisation (The Firm), Den torched Kathy's rapist's winebar in retaliation, and was then made to take the blame for the deed by the firm. After he refused, went on the run, and was nearly killed by the firm's heavies, Den turned himself into the police and was put on remand at Dickens Hill prison in September 1988. For the next five months he was seen, in the company of a small group of new characters also confined in the prison, on a regular basis in EastEnders. This material was shot in less than a month at Dartmoor Prison, Devon. When these segments were written and recorded, they were done so entirely in isolation and in advance - the production team had no real idea of other material that would have to fit around it.

The character was eventually to bow out on 23 February 1989 in one of the programme's most famous episodes which attracted more than 20 million viewers. After escaping from custody, Den returned to the famous canal (in Alperton) for one last rendezvous with Michelle. The episode ended with Den being shot by a member of the firm (who was carrying a gun concealed in a bunch of daffodils) and then falling into the canal. The scene where Den actually hit the water had to be taped at the BBC's Ealing Film Studios using a water tank, because the waters of the Grand Union Canal were deemed unsafe. When the episode was finished, however, Jonathan Powell, controller of BBC1, requested that the final shot be removed to allow for the possibility of Den returning at a later date. In protest, Tony Holland and Julia Smith had their names taken off the episode's credits. Den's exit ended up being the creators' final contribution to the show.

Controversial return

However, after 14 years presumed dead, executive-producer Louise Berridge made the highly controversial decision to reintroduce the character to the series and reunite him with his daughter Sharon, played by Letitia Dean. Grantham has alleged that the producers of EastEnders asked him to reprise the role many times since 1991, but he turned each offer down as he was unhappy with the returning storylines. Subsequent offers between 1995 and 2001 were also rejected because Den's screen family were no longer in the show and Grantham felt that a return at this time would have been little more than a publicity stunt. However, he accepted Berridge's offer to return in 2002 as he approved of the storyline and because Den had family ties within the cast - his adoptive daughter Sharon had returned after six years away, his other daughter Vicki was due to return, and Dennis Rickman (Nigel Harman) - the son Den hadn't known existed - was also due to join.

The reintroduction of Den was part of a plan by scriptwriters to fight back against the continued success of ITV's long-running soap, Coronation Street. The character made his "dramatic return" in an episode that aired on 29 September 2003. On-screen, Den walked into Sharon's nightclub, Angie's Den, and greeted his stunned daughter with the words "Hello, princess." More than 16 million viewers watched his long-awaited homecoming, attracting 62% of the viewing public; it has been voted as the favourite TV soap comeback in an AOL online poll of over 23,000 viewers, taking over a third of the vote (37%).

Despite claims from the British press that the plot was unrealistic and that it questioned the show's credibility, Den's return sparked a huge increase in ratings for the last few months of 2003. After a successful Christmas storyline, Grantham took a short break from the show after securing a lengthy contract. However, a severe press backlash followed after actor Grantham was outed in an internet sex scandal in May 2004, which coincided with a swift decline in EastEnders ratings. Grantham was subsequently suspended for two months and his character departed on 30 August, before returning on the episode broadcast on 11 November. Newly appointed executive-producer Kathleen Hutchison then made the decision to axe the character and he was killed off in a high-profile storyline, which saw his body buried in the cellar of The Queen Vic.

Grantham has denied that he was dismissed from the show as punishment for the internet sex scandal. He has claimed in his autobiography that he only ever intended to return to the soap for 18 months so his character's second demise would tie in with the show's 20th anniversary.

In 2006, EastEnders' scriptwriter Tony Jordan revealed how it was his idea to bring Den back in 2003. Jordan had started working at EastEnders in 1989, after Den had already left the series. Jordan had always wanted to write material for Den and Angie and so he campaigned for the return of Den for many years. He told the Daily Mirror, "At story conferences I'd say, 'How do we know he's dead? They never found a body'. Eventually, just to shut me up, they made me write an episode where Den's body was found and identified by his ring."




  • Den Watts was introduced as one of 24 original characters in EastEnders, appearing in the very first episode on the February 21, 1985. The late 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 the square's local gangland 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 July 1, 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 October 30, 2015 by Gavin Sullivan when revealing to Sharon that he was her father.
  • The Christmas episode in 1986 in which he divorced Angie achieved the highest single program audience in the U.K of 30.5 million. That meant that around 54% of the U.K population at that time watched the episode live.
  • In 1986, the duo Whisky and Sofa released a single called "Dirty Den" - with lyrics making direct references to the character.