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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 23:46 GMT 00:46 UK
Dirty Den returns to EastEnders
Dirty Den in his prime
Dirty Den was a 1980s icon

Dennis Watts - aka Dirty Den - is to return to BBC One soap EastEnders after a 14-year absence.

Actor Leslie Grantham, who played the iconic villain from 1985 to 1989, will be back in Walford after a year of talks with the BBC.

Viewers might have assumed Den was dead after he made his exit from the show after being shot at next to a canal.

His body was not seen falling into the water but a year after the shooting a body was fished out of the canal and buried as Den.

The Sun reported Grantham, 57, had signed a six-month deal and said the storyline would reveal he faked his death to escape gangland villains.

He's been in the Salvation Army with Harold Bishop
Matt Everest, UK

Grantham is likely to be back on the show by September, The Sun said.

Den and his alcoholic wife Angie remain fresh in many people's minds, having been involved in some of the most colourful storylines in the show's history.

Den had a long-term mistress and also made 16-year-old Michelle Fowler pregnant.

In a particularly villainous moment, he served Angie with divorce papers on Christmas Day, after she pretended to have a fatal illness.

Den's flirtations with the underworld provided his comeuppance when he fell foul of local gangsters.

After he refused to take the blame for setting fire to the Dagmar wine bar, as revenge for the rape of his best friend's wife Kathy Beale, they decided to end his time in the square.

Den's daughter by Michelle, Vicki, recently made a return to the soap after leaving with her mother for a new life in America.

And Dennis Rickman, Den's secret son, has also entered the show after being tracked down by half-sisters Sharon and Vicki.

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