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Hello Princess..; RETURN OF DIRTY DEN TO WALFORD.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE by NICOLA METHVEN, TV Editor

THIS is the moment EastEnders' Dirty Den walks back into daughter Sharon's life after 14 years with the words: "Hello Princess".

Dennis Watts, the original soap tough guy, breaks down and cries as she tells him she's wished him back every day since his funeral.

"I've made such a mess of my life," she sobs. But her dad, played by Leslie Grantham, doesn't think she's done too badly. "You're talking to the king of the cock-ups," he tells her.

Den, supposedly shot dead beside a canal in 1989, makes his return on Monday night. Sharon's joy quickly turns to rage when he tells her he saw her at his funeral - then did nothing to let her know he was still alive. "A postcard would have done," she storms, rushing out of the room to be sick.

Den meets all his children in four highly-charged episodes next week.

Dennis, actor Nigel Harman, is crushed to learn his long-lost father did not even know he existed.

At first Den laughs when Sharon, played by Letitia Dean, mentions Dennis, calling her "sad" for having a boyfriend with his name. But she fires back: "He's not my boyfriend, he's your son". This stuns him.

When they meet Dennis tells his dad he killed Jack Dalton, the man Den had been hiding from for years.

His boast fails to impress, however, because Den is furious his two beloved daughters - Sharon and Vicki - have been put in danger. "I did it for you," poor Dennis bleats.

But turning on his trademark sarcasm, Den sneers: "Oh, that makes all the difference. Come and give your dear old dad a hug."

Dennis blames half-sister Vicki for not telling Den he had a son when she flew to Spain to find him.

She apologises and says it's because she wanted to have her dad to herself for a while.

Grantham, 56, set conditions for his return and said he "didn't want to be a clone of Phil Mitchell".

He added: "I don't care what the critics think - the only thing that matters is the audience. If they think I'm crap, then I'll leave."

Grantham quit after four years because of other actors' moaning. All have now left, he stresses.

CAPTION(S):

SHOCKING: Sharon can't believe dad Den is back
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 27, 2003
Words:387
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