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DENISE VAN OUT-EN; Star quits Big Breakfast to catch up on sleep.

Denise Van Outen quit the Big Breakfast yesterday - saying she wanted to catch up on her sleep.

She told stunned viewers she'd leave at Christmas.

Her departure comes amid rumours the on-screen chemistry with co-presenter Johnny Vaughan was fizzling out.

It is a bitter blow for Channel 4, who have seen the show's ratings rise to five million a day since she teamed up with Johnny.

Their telly flirtations sparked an "Are they? Aren't they?" storyline that gripped viewers.

But there were signs things may have cooled in the last few weeks.

When Denise went on holiday recently, Lisa Tarbuck filled her shoes. Insiders close to Johnny claim that, on her return, something had changed.

One said: "Johnny felt he was coming up with the characters and the jokes but, when she flashed her boobs, she got the front page."

Denise, voted the second sexiest woman in the world in a recent magazine poll, has become one of Britain's most sought-after talents.

Her sitcom, Babes in the Wood, is to run for a second series and, last week, she appeared in a TV version of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Although she gets up at 3.30am for the Big Breakfast, she can sometimes be working until 11pm.

Denise, whose partner is pop singer Jay Kay, said: "I am 24 years old and would like to get some sleep as well as pursue other things.

"For two and a half years, I have been in one of the best jobs I have ever done.

"It has been great to work with Johnny and the Big Breakfast team.

"But Denise and Johnny fans don't despair - we will be working together again on other projects."

Denise made an instant impact when she joined the Big Breakfast as a roving travel and weather girl.

When Johnny took over as co-host a year and a half ago, the pair got letters by the sackful asking: "What's going on between you."

She said: "I love him to bits. We have on-screen chemistry and that's something you can't manufacture."

Johnny, who has agreed to stay with the show until 2000, said: "It is hard to imagine presenting it without her by my side.

"But I have to be philosophical. The show was going before we arrived and it will still be going long after we've gone.

"I know whatever she does, she'll be funny, entertaining and, quite simply, Denise. Working with her and having a laugh with her makes doing the show a joy not a chore."

Rumoured projects for Denise include a late-night entertainment show, a re- styled Opportunity Knocks and a Saturday evening show featuring music and gossip.

No decision has been taken on a replacement - but Lisa Tarbuck and the Bigger Breakfast's presenter Melanie Sykes are in the frame.

DAME FOR A LAUGH OFF THE SCREEN

DENISE'S career has been as colourful off the screen as on it.

She hit the headlines this year after stealing an ashtray and tissue box from the QUEEN.

Denise had been invited to Buckingham Palace with 650 young achievers.

But the Queen hurt her feelings by revealing she didn't know who she was.

Denise paraded her booty on the show the next day only to be carpeted by royal aides who demanded she return the goods, which she did after a grovelling apology.

Daredevil Denise also once admitted holding up a kebab shop while drunk.

She put a pal's tights over her head and stormed into the takeway after a night out.

She said: "We were really drunk. We staggered up to the counter and said, `Give us a shish and a doner!'

"The poor Greek guy dropped everything."

Denise told the man she was joking but could not get the tights off.

She said: "I hope he didn't have a security camera or I'll be on Crimewatch."

Even when she's working Denise is causing mayhem.

At just 14 she was appearing in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

But friend Danniella Westbrook, who shot to fame in EastEnders, was having a party so Denise set off fireworks in the theatre to spark a fire scare.

She said: "The fire engines turned up and emptied the whole of the Barbican.

"Everyone had to stand outside and I was dressed as a fairy, and it was all my fault. I got into a lot of trouble."

And, more recently, she's been causing havoc on the set of sitcom Babes in the Wood.

During filming she put Rice Krispies into co-star Natalie Walker's handbag and Samantha Janus's shoes.

Denise said: "When Natalie went to pay for her taxi she opened her purse and it was full of Rice Krispies."
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
Article Details
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Author:Fulton, Rick
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 8, 1998
Words:777
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