Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Original Queen of The Vic - Angie Watts (1985 - 1988)


The original Queen of the vic, Angie Watts was one of the finest characters to have emerged from the cess pit that has become EastEnders. Angela "Angie" Watts played superbly by Anita Dobson from the first episode of the show until 1988 when the actress decided to quit and the character was written out.
Angie was well known for her cheeky banter, her huge shaggy perm and turning to alcohol during her stormy marriage to cheating Den which ended when he handed her divorce papers on Christmas Day, in an episode watched by a record-breaking 30.1 million viewers. Despite being the loud and feisty lady of Walford, and having a close relationship with her beloved adopted daughter Sharon, she didn't have much real happiness during her time in Albert Square and alcoholism finally claimed her life in 2002 when she died of cirrhosis of the liver.
Alcoholic Angie shared a love/hate marriage to her womanising husband, Den Watts, and refused to let him go even during their rockiest times. They had been married since 18 February 1968 - exactly 17 years before the series began - and together they ran and lived in The Queen Victoria pub on Albert Square. Angie and Den doted on their spoilt, teenage, adopted daughter, Sharon, who carried on loving them despite her resentment of Den's affairs and Angie's binge drinking.
Angie was good at putting on a front for the punters, dressing to kill, screeching outrageously with the girls, but inside she was a mess. Despite all her bravado, all she really wanted was a happy marriage with Den, who she never stopped loving, despite the fact that he treated her like dirt.
Den and Angie started 1985 by celebrating their seventeenth wedding anniversary, but it soon became clear that their marriage was a sham. Behind the scenes of their great business partnership, there was not much of a relationship going on. Den had been carrying on with his posh mistress Jan Hammond for a while, a fact that Angie was all too aware of. Early in the year, Den even managed to wangle a holiday to Spain with Jan, under the pretext that he was checking out a possible time-share holiday home purchase. With Den gone, Angie did what she always did in times of trouble, she turned to alcohol to drown her sorrows. She also set about trying to seduce the men of Walford in a bid to get back at her philandering husband. Lofty Holloway, Simon Wicks and even Arthur Fowler all fell victim to Angie's not-so-subtle flirting, but her only successful conquest was local builder, Tony Carpenter. Tony fell for Angie, but she was only using him to get back at Den. The affair was conducted in secret but they were caught in a passionate clinch in the middle of The Vic by Sharon. Angie had to bribe her daughter to ensure her silence, and even informed her about Den's infidelity. Sharon was disgusted that both her parents were guilty of adultery. Upon Den's return from his holiday, Angie called off the affair, but it wasn't long before Sharon gave Den the impression that her mother had been up to no good. Den confronted Angie, and she admitted to the affair, but unfortunately for her, Den wasn't concerned about her infidelity, more about his reputation, which only sought to upset Angie even more.
Although Angie tried to stop drinking, her attempts always failed dismally and by the end of the year she'd even been arrested for drink driving when she crashed Den's car on the way home from a darts match. 1986 would prove to bring more trauma for Angie when Den's mistress, Jan, started to frequent The Vic. The physical arrival of Jan sent Angie's marriage into further decline as she was unable to contain her jealousy and anger. Angie became so depressed that she took a near lethal cocktail of booze and pills in an attempted suicide. By chance, Den returned home early following an argument with Jan, discovered Angie and rushed her to the hospital where she had her stomach pumped. Angie recovered, but was left shaken when she discovered how close to death she actually came. Upon recovering, Angie decided to play Den at his own game and so she began another affair with Andy O'Brien. Den was furious when he discovered them in bed together, but his rage was short-lived as he had more pressing things on his mind, such as the birth of his illegitimate daughter, Vicki Fowler. Angie's affair with Andy only lasted a month, ending when Andy got back with his ex-girlfriend Debbie Wilkins. Andy died in a road accident shortly afterwards.
As the year moved on, Den decided that he wanted to leave Angie so he could settle down and marry Jan. He finally got round to telling Angie his intentions in October, after which Angie became distraught. Desperate to hold on to her husband, announced that she was terminally ill and only had six months to live. Upon hearing this, Den became wracked with guilt, so he begrudgingly decided to revise his plans and stay with Angie. He set about organising a second honeymoon for them in Venice. However their holiday was ruined, when Jan turned up, and upon seeing her and Den together Angie went straight back on the gin that she'd not long given up. On the way home from Venice on the Orient Express a drunk Angie told the barman all about her big lie. Unfortunately for Angie, Den heard every word and from that moment on he reverted to his original plan to leave her, although he decided to wait a while before letting Angie know that he know about her "secret". On Christmas Day that year, Den decided to get his revenge. Thinking that her marriage was safe, Angie was happier than ever, that was until Den informed her that he'd heard her conversation with the barman on the Orient Express and then served her divorce papers as a Christmas present (this episode pulled in the highest amount of viewers the show has ever seen since its 1985 arrival - 30 million). In response, Angie and Sharon packed their bags and walked out of the pub, choosing to take the route through the public area to cause Den the most embarrassment possible.
Angie began 1987 by securing herself a job as the manageress of The Vic's rival drinking establishment, The Dagmar. Owner, James Willmott-Brown, was only too happy to have Angie's expertise on board for his new, suave wine bar. Angie and Den continued to row constantly and in a bid for revenge, Angie vowed to take Den 'to the cleaners' for her divorce settlement. In retaliation Den installed his mistress, Jan, as the new land lady of The Vic, which only sought to infuriate Angie even more. However, Den and Jan's cohabitation eventually led to the end of their relationship, when Den decided that Jan was too posh for him and so by the summer of that year he had given her her marching orders.
The Vic was floundering without Angie, a fact that she seemed to delight over, and the sheer pleasure of watching Den suffer was all she needed to make her 'grin and bear' The Dagmar's yuppie clientele. However, behind her front, Angie was a wreck, drinking more heavily than ever and going on 'over the top' shopping sprees. By May of that year the divorce papers finally came through, but it seemed that neither Den nor Angie were coping without each other, and although they both professed to be pleased about the divorce, it was obvious to everyone else that they were far from happy. Seeing her parents' misery, Sharon decided to intervene by setting up a dinner date between them, which ended with them in bed together again. Angie and Den decided to keep their reconciliation quiet for a while, but by the end of the year, Angie finally lost her patience with The Dagmar clientele, and after slapping one of the customers in the face, she marched over to The Vic and offered to come back to work, but only as a business partner this time and not a wife.
Angie began 1988 with a health scare when she was rushed to hospital with kidney-failure; brought on by her excessive alcohol abuse. Upon her recovery Angie decided to take a well-earned holiday to Spain with her friends, Sonny and Ree. This led to Angie and Sonny falling in love and embarking on an affair. Sonny made arrangements for them to start a new life together, running a bar in Spain.
Angie returned to Walford (with her plans still secret) and tried to show interest in Den's plan to move the location of The Vic, but it was plain to see that her mind was elsewhere. Den soon 'cottoned on' that she was seeing someone else, and although he didn't care that she was with another man, he was concerned for the state of his business. Den visited a solicitor and returned with papers protecting himself and his business should Angie decide to leave him again. Angie did decide to leave in May of that year, still under a cloak of secrecy and only divulging her plan to leave on the night of her departure. Unfortunately for Angie, Den had already 'second guessed' her and when she attempted to leave he cruelly informed her that he'd sorted things so she wouldn't be able to get a penny out of him. After their final showdown Angie got into her taxicab and left Walford.
This was Angie's last appearance. Later that year, while Den was in prison, Sharon decided to join Angie in Spain and arrived unannounced, only to learn from Sonny that Angie had eft him and moved to the United States. It was subsequently revealed that she moved to Miami where she remarried in February 1991. Sharon joined Angie in 1995 after the breakdown of her marriage to Grant Mitchell.
In 2001 Sharon returned to Walford, and in April 2002, news reached London that years of heavy drinking had finally caught up with Angie and she had died from cirrhosis of the liver, at the age of 52. Despite having remarried, Angie had requested to be buried next to Den, which Sharon did for her when she returned her body to London in order to reunite her two 'dead' parents. Sharon's new club was re-named Angie's Den in her and Den's honour.
In fact, the body thought to be Den's was actually that of the mysterious Mr. Vinnicombe, the boss of The Firm - who had ordered Den's assassination. 14 years after Den's disappearance, it turned out that he had not died after all, and had faked his own death in order to get away from the gangsters who had been employed to kill him. However, Den eventually met his demise at the hands of second wife Chrissie in February 2005. A body found under the basement of the Queen Vic six months later was quickly identified as Den's, and buried in his 'original' grave next to Angie.
In February 2011 Anita Dobson said that she had no regrets being in EastEnders, as it propelled her to fame, and said she believed that people were drawn to Angie because she is a survivor and funny—qualities that drew Dobson herself to Angie. She said "[Angie] could be on the floor, drunk, weeping buckets, mascara everywhere, then drag herself up the next morning in that old blue dressing gown, tidy herself up and be in the bar that night telling jokes and looking a million dollars."
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