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'EastEnders' Letitia Dean as Sharon Watts - Soap Icon

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As soap fans anticipate the return of one of EastEnders' biggest stars, Digital Spy unlocks the archive to bring you the history of Sharon Watts.

Sharon is an EastEnders original, having appeared in a pink packet jacket during the soap's first ever episode on February 19, 1985.

Only a schoolgirl then, Sharon was the adopted daughter of the Queen Vic's first owners Den and Angie Watts, and became stuck in the middle of her parents' tempestuous relationship. Early in her time on Albert Square, she had teenage romances with Wicksy and - of all people - Ian Beale.

Letitia Dean had already made a small appearance in Brookside, as well as a more memorable role as Pogo's mystery girlfriend in Grange Hill.

Watch Sharon bump into Ethel's dog Willy in an early scene below:



But it was Sharon who made Letitia Dean one of TV's most recognised women in the 1990s, as her character was involved in EastEnders' most popular love triangle of all time, dubbed 'Sharongate' by the tabloid press.

As Peggy's old soap proverb goes, 'No-one ever messes with the Mitchells'. Her relationship with Grant Mitchell soured when he discovered she was taking contraceptive pills to secretly delay his dream of starting a family.

After Grant smashed up the pub and disappeared in a fit of anger, Sharon began to get close to his older brother Phil, leading to a full-blown affair which would last until 1993. Despite opportunities to start afresh, Sharon never left Grant - until it was too late...



Her best friend Michelle, while recording an interview for her boyfriend's book, forgot to turn the machine off as Sharon opened her heart about her affair with Phil. A distraught Grant - not only ending their marriage - drove Sharon out of Albert Square.

Sharon never recovered from the public shame and left Walford for America in 1995, where she lived with mum Angie until after the millennium.

The blonde bombshell made a dramatic return in 2001, being unveiled as the anonymous buyer of the Queen Vic. Despite receiving news of her mother's death, the next couple of years were to mark Sharon's happiest period on the Square.



She reunited with Irish charmer and old school friend Tom Banks, romancing one of the nicest men to ever grace the Square. Their relationship survived the jealousy of Tom's mad ex-wife Sadie, but not an incurable brain tumour which would have taken his life - if not for an act of heroism in late 2002 which saw Tom run into a burning building to save a dying Little Mo.

Dirty Den's stunning resurrection ("Hello, princess") in 2003 marked a confusing new chapter for Sharon, as a clan of Watts' filled Walford. She fell for adopted brother Dennis Rickman, to the disgust of her father. By the end of 2005, both her lover and doting dad had been murdered.

Sharon Rickman went back to America in 2006 while pregnant with Dennis's baby. Pauline Fowler announced later that year that she had given birth to a son, who she named Dennis Rickman Jr after his late dad.

Letitia Dean returns to Eastenders as Sharon.

© BBC



When Sharon reappears in Albert Square next month, she desperately needs the help of old flame Phil Mitchell, himself troubled with the burden of protecting his son from being caught for killing Heather Trott.

Her dramatic arrival comes after her young son is kidnapped, with the drama taking place on her wedding day to fiancée John.

With Shirley about to find out about Phil's deceit over the murder of her best friend, could Sharon and Phil possibly reunite again? Could she reclaim the Queen Vic? And will she ever find happiness in Walford? Whatever happens, Sharon Watts - a true soap icon - is back in her rightful home. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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