Den and Angie Watts - everything you need to know about the EastEnders legends

EastEnders Den and Angie
(Image credit: BBC)

Den and Angie Watts have gone down in soap history as EastEnders legends - and here's why as BBC1 screens a classic episode featuring the pair at 7.30pm tonight (Tuesday 23rd June). It originally went out in 1986 and was the first episode of the show to feature only two characters

Den and Angie Watts have forever been cemented in EastEnders history thanks to their turbulent marriage and ability to draw in record-breaking numbers of viewers.

EastEnders fans couldn't get enough of their rocky romance, but if there was one thing they did agree on, it was their shared love for their adopted daughter, Sharon Watts.

Who were Den and Angie Watts?

Angie and Den EastEnders BBC

Angie and Den lived in the Queen Victoria pub with rear adopted daughter, Sharon (Picture: Getty) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Den and Angie were the original landlord and landlady of the Queen Victoria pub in EastEnders.

The pair first appeared on the soap when it first launched in 1985, and spent nearly 19 years married.

Their relationship was plagued by secrets, infidelity and lies, and eventually Den discovered Angie had lied to him about only have six months left to live.

The pair were on a second honeymoon on the Orient Express when Den overheard drunk Angie telling the barman that she had lied about being terminally ill to keep him from leaving her.

Den didn't let on that he'd discovered her lies, instead saving the news for Christmas Day.

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How many people watched Den serve Angie with divorce papers on Christmas Day?

Angie and Den EastEnders BBC

More than half the nation tuned in to watch this now-legendary episode on Christmas Day in 1986 (Picture: BBC YouTube)

Christmas Day in 1986 has gone down in EastEnders history as being the most-watched episode of the soap.

A record-breaking 30.1 million viewers tuned in to watch Den hand Angie their divorce papers.

The episode was watched by more than half of the UK population and marked the beginning of the end for the pair.

Who played Angie Watts?

Angie and Den EastEnders BBC

Angie's life was plagued by her battle with the bottle (Picture: BBC YouTube)

Angie was played by legendary actress Anita Dobson between 1985 and 1988.

Angie will go down in EastEnders history for being the loud, cheeky, landlady who sported an amazing 80s perm whilst drinking the Vic bar dry.

While her marriage to Den might have been doomed, she had a close bond with adoptive daughter, Sharon Watts, and the pair shared some happy times between Angie's battle with booze.

More: Things you didn't know about EastEnders star Kellie Bright 

Who played Den Watts?

Angie and Den EastEnders BBC

Den was given the nickname 'Dirty Den' during his time in Walford (Picture: BBC YouTube)

Den Watts was played by Leslie Grantham from 1985 until 1989.

He then returned in 2003 until his demise in 2005.

Den was hated by many in Albert Square for his cheating and criminal ways, giving the character the legendary nickname 'Dirty Den'.

Is Angie Watts dead?

Angie and Den EastEnders BBC

Angie confessed to a barman that she'd lied about being terminally ill, not realising Den was listening behind her (Picture: BBC YouTube)

Angie left Albert Square back in 1988 to run a bar with her lover, Sonny, in Spain.

Sharon later discovered her mum had moved to America where she remarried in 1991.

But sadly in 2002 news reached Sharon that her mum had died.

In the end drinking got the better of Angie and she died off screen with cirrhosis of the liver after also suffering with alcohol-related dementia.

Sharon brought Angie's body back to Walford so that she could be buried in a local cemetery, believing that she was reuniting her deceased parents at last.

Little did she know, the man in the grave next to Angie was actually Mr Vinnicombe, the very man who had ordered Den's assassination in the first place.

More: Things you didn't know about EastEnders star Danny Dyer 

Is Den Watts dead?

Leslie Grantham as Den Tracy-Ann Oberman as Chrissie Den is killed.jpg

Den died twice on EastEnders, but eventually it was his second wife, Chrissie, who actually killed him (Picture: BBC) (Image credit: BBC)

Legendary character Den Watts will go down in EastEnders history for dying not once, but twice.

He first left the soap in February 1989 when he was apparently killed off after getting involved in criminal organisation, The Firm.

But the character made a shock return 14 years later when, in September 2003, Sharon discovered Den survived the shooting and had moved to Spain.

Den was finally killed off for good on 18th February 2005 during EastEnders' 20th anniversary episode.

During the episode, Den's long-suffering second wife, Chrissie Watts, teamed up with other women he had wronged, Sam Mitchell and Zoe Slater, to get their revenge.

The trio went on the attack, with Zoe hitting Den over the head with Pauline Fowler's doggy doorstop.

Zoe believed she was the one who killed Den, not knowing that Den had regained consciousness afterwards, and it was actually Chrissie who dealt the fatal blow.

The women buried Den's body under the cellar floor in the Queen Vic, but it was found six months later and moved to the grave next to Angie's.

BBC One will air EastEnders: Secrets from the Square, hosted by Stacey Dooley, at 8pm on Mondays, while classic episodes of the soap will air at 7.30pm on Tuesdays.

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.