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Agonising decision Letitia Dean was forced to make as teen amid vile abuse

Letitia Dean was just 17-years-old when she was thrust into the limelight on EasTEnders.

The legendary actress, who is an original castmember, has played feisty Sharon Watts since the BBC soap started in 1985.

Creators Tony Holland and Julia Smith were looking for a “bouncy, attractive, oddly vulnerable young woman” to play Sharon – and saw all of those qualities in Letitia.

Despite falsely claiming she had been brought up in Hackney as the bosses wanted real East End actors, when in reality it was Hertfordshire, she secured the part of Sharon.

Dirty Den and Angie Watts’ spoilt adopted daughter had a troubled life but quickly became one of the most popular characters.

But while she achieved success on-screen, Letitia struggled to grow up as a teenager in the public eye.



TV Progs Eastenders Angie, Den and Sharon Watts standing outside the Queen "Vic" Victoria pub in Albert Square Anita Dobson, Leslie Grantham and Letitia Dean
Letitia Dean with on-screen parents Anita Dobson and Leslie Grantham in 1985

The young actress lost a lot of confidence due to vile comments from trolls on her appearance.

Nasty comments about her looks and fluctuating weight were deeply upsetting to Letitia, who had been thrust into the celebrity world at a young age.

Letitia was forced to make the agonising decision to undergo a breast reduction procedure while she was still a teenager.

While there were also medical reasons that she chose to go under the knife, Letitia admitted that vile remarks from members of the public contributed to her decision.



The ‘Sharongate’ storyline exploded onto our screens

“Backache had a lot to do with that decision too” she told Hello! magazine in October 2001.

“But I was a lot less secure about myself and there was a lot of focus on how I looked”

“Occasionally, the attention on my appearance still bothers me – it bothers all women, doesn’t it? – but I have those things in perspective nowadays.

“My work is part of my life but it’s not everything and, no matter what you do or how you look, you can’t please everybody.”



Sharon was born to stand behind the Queen Vic bar

After featuring in iconic storylines such as ‘Sharongate’, with her character’s affair with husband Grant Mitchell’s brother Phil being exposed, she left the soap in 1995.

But she was lured back just six years later for another stint, reportedly becoming one of the highest paid actresses in British soap.

She left once again in 2006 and starred in the 2007 series of Strictly Come Dancing, but her confidence struggles never went away.

After years of dieting and self-esteem issues, Letitia decided to embark on an exercise regime with the trainer who had helped Letitia’s fellow EastEnders mates Charlie Brooks and Natalie Cassidy to shed pounds.



Letitia looked sensational on Strictly Come Dancing in 2007

“I just woke up one morning, and I’d had enough,” Letitia told the Daily Record in 2009.

“For years and years – as long as I can remember – my weight had yo-yoed up and down.

“I’d go on fad diets like Atkins or I’d only eat eggs. The effect was great, even if my breath did smell foul. I’d lose a stone in a couple of weeks, but gradually I’d slip back into my old ways and put it all on again.

“I’m five feet two and I’d always drift back over 10 stone. In the end, I just got bored with it. It was time to take myself in hand once and for all.”



Letitia showed of her new slimline figure on This Morning

Over a period of four months, she went from 10 stone 4lbs to 8 stone 3lbs, and in the process she also dropped four dress sizes.

“I used to put on a new dress and be pleased when I looked in the mirror,” she said after making her own fitness DVD.

“But, as soon as anyone paid me a compliment, I’d always put myself down.”

“I don’t mind admitting that I now feel much sexier. If you’re comfortable with your body, you’re going to feel more sensual. I can also see myself in a bikini on a beach this summer – and that will be a first, believe me.

“It’ll scare me to death to begin with, but that’s all to do with making the mental adjustment about my new shape and size.

“I was photographed in a crop top when I made the DVD and it felt so strange. I knew my body looked all right but I hadn’t worn one of those since I was 16 – and, even then, it was only indoors.”



Sharon and Keanu’s love affair got pulses racing

Letitia made a much-welcomed return to Albert in 2012 – with Sharon making an explosive comeback with son Dennis Rickman Junior.

Over the last few years, Letitia has become a sex symbol for a lot of younger men due to her character’s fling with a teenager.

Sharon embarked on a steamy affair with Keanu Taylor behind husband Phil Mitchell’s back, with the pair making love on the kitchen table, the marital bed and in a car in The Arches.

The saucy scenes certainly got viewers’ pulses racing and meant Letitia got a lot of attention.

“Well, sometimes when I pop into my local little OneStop, I get some very strange looks from young boys, but the people that I’ve seen in my little quiet life have really enjoyed it,” she told The Metro.



Letitia will be revealing secrets from the Square

Before filming on EastEnders was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, Letitia filmed the iconic doof doof for the final scene that aired.

It was revealed that Sharon and best pal Ian Beale had swindled the pub out of Phil’s hands in a dramatic climax.

Letitia will be relive some of her most iconic moments on the show, share juicy behind-the-scenes gossip and reveal some of the show’s best kept secrets during this week’s EastEnders: Secrets of the Square.

Alongside fellow original cast member and friend Adam Woodyatt, the pair will reflect on starting out on the show together as teenagers, revisit classic scenes (and classic hair dos) and share their best backstage stories.



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Written by Angle News

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