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Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 19:03 GMT 20:03 UK
Letitia Dean back in EastEnders
Sharon (left) with new-look long hair
Sharon (left) will be "at daggers drawn" with Peggy
EastEnders fans saw Sharon Mitchell revealed as the new owner of the Queen Vic pub in Thursday's episode of the soap.

Sharon - played by Letitia Dean - was one of the series' longest-serving characters before leaving the show in 1995.

But now she is back and taking over from her former mother-in-law Peggy Mitchell as boss of the show's pub.

She returned at the end of Thursday's episode with the words: "Hello, Peggy. Bet you never thought you'd see me again."

Sharon (right) with Den, Angie and Roly
Sharon was in the show for 10 years from 1985
Dean was one of the founding members of the cast, beginning as the teenage daughter of original Queen Vic landlords Angie and "Dirty" Den Watts.

Sharon married Peggy's son Grant in 1991 but then had a fling with his brother Phil - an event that eventually led to her exit from the show in July 1995.

Dean said Sharon and Peggy would be at "daggers drawn from the word go", but that she would not be falling back into bed with Phil.

She told the Radio Times magazine that executive producer John Yorke first floated the idea of Sharon's return last November.

"He outlined some juicy storylines, and I couldn't really say no," she said.

Sharon with her brother-in-law Phil
Sharon with her brother-in-law Phil
She is now contracted to stay in the show until this November, but added: "Who knows what the next year will bring?"

Dean said her character has always felt at home at the Queen Vic.

"She's past 30 now and wants to get back to her roots and rediscover herself," she said.

A spokeswoman for the show said Sharon's return was simply a storyline desicion.

"It's the producer's job to decide how the storylines are going to go, and he decided to bring Sharon back. And Letitia said she would love to come back."

It is not the first time Sharon has been landlady of the legendary drinking hole - she took over in 1991 after Eddie Royle was brutally murdered.

Since leaving, Dean has starred in television shows including The Hello Girls and Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, and on stage in Loot and Rattle of a Simple Man.

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