Letitia Dean

Letitia Dean

Infobox actor television
name=Letitia Dean

birthname= Letitia Jane Dean [" [http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/individual/157976 DEAN, Letita Jane] ", "/ftvdb.bfi.org.u". URL last accessed on 2008-09-22.]
birthdate=birth date and age|1967|11|14
birthplace = Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, England
occupation=Character actor
yearsactive= 1979 - present
height=5' 3½" (162 cm)
status= Separated |spouse=Jason Pethers (2002 - 2007)
credits=Sharon Rickman in "EastEnders"

Letitia Dean (born 14 November, 1967 in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire) is an English actress. She is best known for her role as Sharon Watts (later Rickman) in the popular BBC soap opera "EastEnders", who was one of the serial's original characters. Dean was part of the original cast in 1985 and remained in the series until 1995. She reprised the role in 2001 and appeared on and off, having most recently appeared in January 2006. It is unknown whether Letitia will reprise her role in the future, but she has said in numerous interviews she would 'never say never' to another return and also hinted that she will return to the show one day, saying she would like to make her comeback in a black cab, and that she still had so much love for the show.

Away from "EastEnders" Dean has appeared in various television programmes and on stage. In 2007 she participated in the fifth series of the popular BBC dance competition, "Strictly Come Dancing". Dean married media executive Jason Pethers in 2002, but in 2007 it was announced that they had split.

Early life

Letitia Dean was born in Hertfordshire to parents Leslie (a tailor) and Ellie Dean, in a cottage rented on the grand estate of the late British romantic novelist Barbara Cartland, known as Camfield Place." [http://www.hertfordshirelife.co.uk/?id=480 Back To Square One] ", "Hertfordshirelife.co.uk". URL last accessed on 2006-12-20.] The youngest of three children, Dean has two older brothers, Stephen and Martin." [http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,,492968,00.html Second skin] ", "The Guardian". URL last accessed on 2007-10-10.]

Dean's family moved to a Buckinghamshire village when she was three years old. She picked up a penchant for performing at an early age; both she and her older brother Stephen attended a local dance school, and they also performed a dance act together on stage.cite book |last= Kingsley|first= Hilary|title= The EastEnders Handbook |year=1990|publisher=BBC books|id=ISBN 0685529576 ] This later prompted Dean's successful application to attend the Italia Conti Theatre School at ten years old, and later the Sylvia Young Theatre School in Marylebone, London, which has famously produced some of Britain's most familiar television and musical stars. Dean stayed at the school as a full-time student for several years learning her trades of acting, singing and dancing." [http://www.sylviayoungtheatreschool.co.uk/pages/satsch.html Sylvia Young Theatre School notable Alumni] ", "Sylviayoungtheatreschool.co.uk". URL last accessed on 2006-12-20.]


Early career

Dean has been performing professionally since the age of 12, when she was cast as "Pepper" in the hit stage musical, "Annie", at London's Victoria Palace Theatre. A trained singer, she played the lead female, Sandy, in the stage musical "Grease", and she also sang with a rock group called "The Young Uns", which toured the country supporting stage acts such as Bobby Davro and Tom O'Connor. [" [http://www.freewebs.com/letitiaxdean/spotlight.htm Spotlight] ", "Letitia-Dean.co.uk". URL last accessed on 2007-10-10.]

Between the ages of 13 and 17, Dean appeared in numerous television programmes, including: "Love Story";cite book |last= Lynch|first= Tony|title= EastEnders Special |year=1986|publisher=BBC books|id=ISBN 0-86227-384-6] "Tales Out Of School";. the Matthew Kelly sitcom "Relative Strangers";" [http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/individual/157976?view=credit&page=2 DEAN, Letitia filmography] ", "BFI". URL last accessed on 2007-10-10.] "Grange Hill", playing a student named Lucinda Oliver;" [http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/G/htmlG/grangehill/grangehill.htm Grange Hill cast list] ", "museum.tv". URL last accessed on 2006-12-20.] and the role of Dawn in the Channel 4 soap opera "Brookside"." [http://www.brooksidesoapbox.co.uk/facts_2.htm Brookside facts] ", "Brookesidesoapbox.co.uk". URL last accessed on 2006-12-20.] In 1984, Dean auditioned to play one of the original characters in BBC1's brand new soap opera, "EastEnders"—she was selected for an interview on the strength of a photograph alone.cite book |last=Smith|first= Julia|authorlink= Julia Smith|coauthors=Holland, Tony|title= EastEnders - The Inside Story |year=1987|publisher=Book Club Associates|id=ISBN 0-563-20601-2] The creators of "EastEnders", Tony Holland and Julia Smith, were looking for a "bouncy, attractive, oddly vulnerable young woman" to play the part of Sharon Watts, and out of the various applicants they had seen, only Dean had all of those qualities. Dean lied about her roots to get the part in the soap. As the casting directors were only looking for real 'East End' actors, she falsely claimed that she was born and raised in Hackney, East London." [http://www.freewebs.com/letitiaxdean/womanjuly.htm Letitia Dean interview in Woman] ", "LetitiaDean.co.uk". URL last accessed on 2006-12-20.] The lie paid off and she got the part, clinching the deal because of her laugh, which Holland and Smith have described as "the dirtiest in the world!" [" [http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/3009_come_dancing2_biogs.shtml Meet the Strictly Come Dancing contestants] ", "The Sun". URL last accessed on 2007-10-10.]


Dean played Sharon Watts, the troubled and spoilt adoptive daughter of landlords 'Dirty' Den (Leslie Grantham) and Angie Watts (Anita Dobson), from the show's inception in 1985 until 1995. Initial storylines centred around the difficulties Sharon faced growing up with an adulterous, over-protective father and an alcoholic, irrational mother. Struggling to grow up in this environment, Sharon was constantly torn between the two. Bombshells such as best friend Michelle's (Susan Tully) confession that she was pregnant with Den's child, as well as her father's alleged murder, helped to make Sharon one of the most popular and long-running characters in the show's history. [" [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_20040502/ai_n12893097 EastEnders In Crisis: I CAN'T GO SHAR ON] ", "Sunday Mirror". URL last accessed on 2007-10-06.]

During her time on the show Dean even managed minor musical chart success with fellow"EastEnders" star Paul Medford (who played Kelvin Carpenter). A song penned for the pair as part of a plotline in the show known as The Banned, prompted them to release a single entitled "Something Outa Nothing", which made number 12 in the UK Singles Chart in November 1986.

In the latter years of her initial stint on "EastEnders", Dean featured in some of the soap's most renowned storylines, including the infamous love triangle with her then on-screen husband Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp) and his brother Phil (Steve McFadden). The plot, nicknamed 'Sharongate', gave the soap one of its highest episode ratings and was watched by over 25.3 million viewers. [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4403694.stm Profiles: EastEnders Kemp and McFadden] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-09-18.] Despite her popularity on the show, a desire to pursue other acting roles and escape press attention prompted Dean to leave the soap in 1995.

Six years after her initial exit, Dean was lured back to "EastEnders" by producer John Yorke, [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/1348913.stm Letitia Dean back in EastEnders] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-09-18.] where she reprised the role of Sharon Watts (landlady of the Queen Vic), from 2001 to 2004, and again from 2005 to 2006. Dean's character was once again the focus of many controversial and popular storylines, including: the 'resurrection' of her infamous father Den Watts, believed to be dead, only to reappear very much alive 14 years later; the unveiling of her father's killer, Chrissie (Tracy-Ann Oberman) — who caused his second demise in 2005; the reappearance of ex-husband Grant Mitchell; and her 'forbidden love' with her adoptive brother Dennis Rickman, played by Nigel Harman—A popular storyline that was nicknamed "Shannis" (a portmanteau ofSha-ron and De-nnis) by "EastEnders" fans and other media. Sharon has been described as one of the soap's most unlucky characters, suffering an unfortunately high number of romance-related and family-related tragedies.

Dean has had several exits or 'extended breaks' from the show in recent years, and each time there has been much press speculation over whether she has quit permanently or whether she is just taking a scheduled break. In December 2004 the "Sunday Mirror" reported that at one time executive producer Kathleen Hutchison offered to double Dean's salary from £150,000 a year to £300,000 a year, in order to persuade her to remain in the show. If true, this would have made Dean one of the highest paid actresses in British soap." [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_20041205/ai_n12913774 ENDERS' PAY RISE TO LURE LETITIA] ", "Sunday Mirror". URL last accessed on 2006-12-20.]

Dean left the series once again in January 2006. An official "EastEnders" press report stated that she was merely taking a scheduled break and was due back on set later in 2006; [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4148146.stm Dennis and Sharon quit EastEnders ] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2008-03-06.] however, this did not happen, and in June 2006 the BBC denied press speculation that there were any immediate plans for her to return to the series. [" [http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/article/ds34077.html Who is returning to 'EastEnders'?] ", "Digital Spy". URL last accessed on 2006-09-18.] Whether Dean will reprise the role in the near future is unknown; however, in an interview with Graham Norton in October 2007, Dean remarked that she would "never say never" to making another comeback. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2007/10_october/18/norton.shtml Graham Norton talks to Letitia Dean and Gabriel Byrne] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2008-01-25.]

Other work

Away from "EastEnders" Dean has had various theatre and television roles. She starred in two series of the BBC drama "The Hello Girls", set in a Derby telephone exchange in the 1960s; medical dramas "Casualty" and "Doctors"; the ITV police drama "The Bill"; romantic comedy "Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married", and the Channel 4 sitcom "Drop The Dead Donkey" as a weathergirl. She also starred in the 1995 film "England, My England", which told the story of the musician and court composer Henry Purcell.

On stage she starred as Nurse Fay in the Joe Orton comedy play, "Loot", working alongside actor Michael Elphick. She also played a prostitute in the revival of Chris Dyer's 1960s play "Rattle of a Simple Man" at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham.

In 2007, Letitia Dean participated in the fifth series of the BBC celebrity dance contest, "Strictly Come Dancing". She was partnered with the professional dancer, Darren Bennett. [" [http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/strictlycomedancing/a74598/letitia-dean-joining-new-strictly-series.html Letitia Dean joining new 'Strictly' series] ", "Digital spy". URL last accessed on 2007-08-30.] Dean and Bennett were voted out in the quarter-finals (week 10), one week before the semi-final. Commenting on her experience, Dean said "It's been incredible. I've got to thank [Darren Bennett] for all his patience, hard work, all the injuries. It's been wonderful." [" [http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/strictlycomedancing/a81398/letitia-dean-is-voted-off-strictly.html Leititia Dean Voted Off Strictly Come Dancing] ", "Digital spy". URL last accessed on 2007-12-30.] Dean was one of several celebrities who took part in the 2008 "Strictly Come Dancing" UK arena tour. She competed against former "EastEnders" stars, Louisa Lytton (Ruby Allen, 2005-2006), and Matt Di Angelo (Deano Wicks, 2006-2008). The tour began in January 2008 and visited various venues throughout the UK, with all the proceeds going to the "Children in Need" appeal. [" [http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/strictlycomedancing/a77563/letitia-dean-joins-strictly-uk-arena-tour.html Letitia Dean joins 'Strictly' UK arena tour] ", "Digital spy". URL last accessed on 2007-12-30.]

In April 2008, it was announced that Letitia Dean will be starring in the stage show "High School Musical" as Miss Darbus. Dean commented, "It's a lovely opportunity for me [...] It's something completely different to anything I've ever done - doing an American accent and playing this kind of character." The production played at London's Hammersmith Apollo from June 2008 until 31 August 2008. [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/hi/entertainment/newsid_7351000/7351995.stm High School Musical gets new star] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2008-04-26.] Dean claimed she wanted "to rest" after finishing "High School Musical".


As well as television and theatre work, Dean regularly appears in seasonal pantomimes—she and other "EastEnders" stars such as Steve McFadden are rumoured to have a special clause in their contracts that permits them time off from filming to star in a pantomime each year. In 2001 she starred as "Snow White" at The Orchard in Dartford; and in 2004 she starred in "Jack and the Beanstalk" at the Birmingham Hippodrome, alongside British comedians Joe Pasquale and Don Maclean. In 2006, Dean appeared as the wicked witch in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" at The Deco, Northampton, taking over the role from her former "EastEnders" co-star, Gillian Taylforth, who pulled out due to ill health. [" [http://www.thedeco.co.uk/news.asp?id=94 EASTENDERS’ SHARON SAVES THE DAY!] ", "Deco.co.uk". URL last accessed on 2006-09-18.] December 2007 saw Letitia Dean appear as the Fairy Godmother in "Cinderella", at The Regent Theatre Ipswich.


In 2004 Dean was nominated for the Best Actress Award at the British Soap Awards, but lost out to Suranne Jones from "Coronation Street". Fellow "EastEnders" actresses Jessie Wallace and Kacey Ainsworth were also nominated. She was also nominated in the category of Best Dramatic Performance for "Den's Return" but lost out to Mark Charnock of "Emmerdale". [" [http://www.thecustard.tv/linksandlists/soapawards.html 2004 British soap awards] ", "thecustard.Tv". URL last accessed on 2006-09-18.] At the 2005 "Inside Soap" awards, Dean was presented with the coveted award for outstanding achievement as homage to her work in "EastEnders", which she has been in (on and off) for over 20 years, since the age of 17. She was also nominated in the category of Best Couple (shared with Nigel Harman). [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4284104.stm EastEnders on top at soap awards] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-09-18.]

Personal life

Growing up in the public eye was hard for Dean, and the constant media attention on her appearance (particularly her fluctuating weight) was especially tough, given her young and susceptible age." [http://www.geocities.com/jostokes1104/engagement.html Letitia announces plans to wed Jason Pethers] ", "Hello!". URL last accessed on 2006-12-20.] Dean has since stated that her self-confidence was damaged during this time, and this, as well as back pain, contributed to her decision to get a breast reduction in her teens. Dean has since stated that she is a lot more comfortable in her own skin, and far more relaxed about public interest than she used to be as a teenager, commenting: "I have stopped pleasing people - and I`m calmer and more self assured than I`ve ever been."

Dean is known to have dated the Irish comedian Ed Byrne;" [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_20010916/ai_n14536971 The Diary: LETITIA TO WED] ", "Sunday Mirror". URL last accessed on 2006-12-20.] Niel McLintock, the son of Arsenal hero Frank McLintock; Martin Ball, the one time star of the Nescafé adverts to whom she was also engaged; and the musician Chris Taggart, whom she met in panto at Liverpool." [http://www.freewebs.com/letitiaxdean/lostherbottle.htm Lost her Bottle] ", "LetitiaDean.co.uk". URL last accessed on 2006-12-20.] In 2001 Dean got engaged to media executive Jason Pethers after knowing him for only a few months. They married in September 2002 at The All Saints Church in Marylebone. Her close friend and "EastEnders" co-star, Susan Tully, was a bridesmaid at the wedding. Many of Dean's fellow cast-mates from "EastEnders" (past and present) attended the wedding including: Wendy Richard, Barbara Windsor, Pam St Clement, Steve McFadden, Gillian Taylforth, June Brown, Lucy Benjamin, Adam Woodyatt, Anna Wing, Todd Carty, Ricky Groves, Hannah Waterman, Laila Morse and on-screen mum Anita Dobson, also, former Queer as Folk actor Antony Cotton. [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/2288599.stm EastEnders' Dean weds] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-09-18.] However, after five years of marriage, it was announced in 2007 that Dean and Pethers had separated. [" [http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/strictlycomedancing/a76230/letitia-dean-hopes-to-get-over-break-up.html Letitia Dean hopes to get over break-up] ", "Digital spy". URL last accessed on 2007-09-23.]

Her older brother, Stephen J. Dean, is also a performer; they have appeared together on stage in several pantomimes. [" [http://www.its-behind-you.com/diary20012002.html Performance Diary] ", "www.its-behind-you.com". URL last accessed on 2007-10-10.] As well as acting, Dean is a keen singer (with a mezzo-soprano voice) and tap dancer. [" [http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/backstage/cast/cast_content/cast_letitia_d.shtml BBC profiles - Letitia Dean] ", "BBC". URL last accessed on 2006-09-18.] Since 2007, she has also been Patron of "Razzle Dazzles Stage School" based in Northampton. Run by Yvette Fielding , Dean developed a close relationship with the principle having worked with her in "Snow White" at The Deco during December 2006. The school has over 150 registered students and is one of the biggest in Northamptonshire.

Charity work

In 1997 Dean along with her close friend, actress Susan Tully, were involved with the third world charity, "Plan International", and were sent to a remote village in Senegal to help highlight one of the organisation's aid projects — designed to bring running water to drought hit areas." [http://www.freewebs.com/letitiaxdean/lifeaftersharon.htm Life After Sharon] ", "LetitiaDean.co.uk". URL last accessed on 2006-12-20.]


*"Grange Hill" (1984)
*"Brookside" (1984)
*"Relative Strangers" (1985)
*"EastEnders" (1985–95, 2001–2004, 2005–2006)
*"Dimensions in Time" (1993)
*"Casualty" (1995)
*"The Bill" (1997)
*"The Hello Girls" (1996; 1998)
*"Drop the Dead Donkey" (1998)
*"England, My England" (1995)
*"Doctors" (2000)
*"Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married" (1999; 2001)


External links

* [http://www.letitiadean.co.uk Official website]
* [http://www.razzledazzles.co.uk Razzle Dazzles Stage school with Letitia Dean as Patron]
* [http://www.unrealitytv.co.uk/tag/letitia-dean/ News And Gossip Of Letitia On Strictly Come Dancing]

*imdb|name=Letitia Dean|id=0212853

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