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Denise van Outen (born Denise Kathleen Outen; 27 May 1974) is an English actress, singer, model, dancer and presenter. She presented The Big Breakfast, played Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago both in the West End and on Broadway and finished as runner-up in the tenth series of the BBC One dancing show Strictly Come Dancing.

Denise van Outen
Denise van Outen Waterloo bridge.jpg
van Outen filming on Waterloo Bridge in 2007
Denise Kathleen Outen

(1974-05-27) 27 May 1974 (age 45)
Basildon, Essex, England
  • Actress
  • singer
  • dancer
  • presenter
Years active1986–present
Height5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
TelevisionThe Big Breakfast
Babes in the Wood
Any Dream Will Do
Who Dares, Sings!
Born to Shine
Strictly Come Dancing
Loose Women
Ireland's Got Talent
Lee Mead
(m. 2009; div. 2013)

She was a judge on Any Dream Will Do in 2007, Born to Shine in 2011, and she had also been a judge on Ireland's Got Talent which ran for two seasons (2018–2019). Van Outen also narrates the ITVBe reality television series The Only Way Is Essex.

Early lifeEdit

Born Denise Kathleen Outen in Basildon, Essex, she has a brother Terry and sister Jackie.[1][2] At the age of seven, she began modelling for knitting patterns,[1] and showed an early flair for performing. This resulted in her attending the Sylvia Young Theatre School. In 1986, she played Éponine in Les Misérables[3] (the role paid her school fees[4]), the Anthony Newley directed production of Stop the World - I Want to Get Off, and A Midsummer Night's Dream with the Royal Shakespeare Company.[1]


Early careerEdit

As a teenager she had brief roles on a number of television dramas including Kappatoo[5] and The Bill.[6] She also sang with Cathy Warwick in "girl group" Those2Girls, by which time she had become Denise van Outen. She also did backing vocals with Melanie Blatt for the band Dreadzone.[3] Van Outen was voted Rear of the Year in 1999, and was top of a poll to find the most desired "bikini body" in a 2007 poll of readers of Grazia magazine.[7]


During her first stint on the Big Breakfast show, she appeared as Jill in ITV1's version of the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk[8] alongside Julie Walters and Neil Morrissey. Wanting to further develop her acting career, she left The Big Breakfast at the end of 1998. In 1999, she appeared on several episodes of The Bill and The Young Person's Guide To Becoming A Rock Star, the BBC's Murder in Mind short series of crime dramas,[9] and on 2 series of Babes in the Wood with Karl Howman and Samantha Janus.[8]

Van Outen has also appeared in film, initially as Maureen in the crime comedy Love, Honour and Obey. In the anthology film Tube Tales, set on the London Underground, she played the lead character of Alex in the "Horny" segment, directed by Stephen Hopkins.[10] Van Outen has played a small role in the romantic comedy Are You Ready For Love?

She first played Roxie Hart on the stage in the hit musical Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre in the West End in April 2001.[11] Her run proved a hit with theatre-goers, selling out for the entire 20 weeks. Unknown in the United States, she reprised her role on Broadway in the spring of 2002, before returning to the show's London version in late April 2002.[12] Late the same year, Van Outen appeared as one of many special guest stars in a performance of The Play What I Wrote once again in London's West End.

In 2003, she returned to the London stage at the Gielgud Theatre in Andrew Lloyd Webber's one-woman show Tell Me on a Sunday,[13][14] which he reworked for her. She was a huge success and the show ran for nearly a year.[15] She then joined the cast of the established ITV sentimental drama Where the Heart Is as one of the lead characters, playing single mother Kim Blakeney, continuing for two series.[16]

Van Outen played Maureen in the 2007 London revival of Rent Remixed directed by William Baker until 22 December.[17] She was forced to cancel some performances owing to a throat infection.[18] In July 2009, van Outen played Mary in Hotel Babylon for the BBC. Her character was at the hotel for a science convention.[19] In August 2009, van Outen made her Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut[20] in Blondes,[21] a show by Jackie Clune.

Van Outen took over the role of Paulette Bonafonté from Jill Halfpenny in the West End production of Legally Blonde on 25 October 2010.[22] She continued in the role for 6 months. In 2012, Van Outen was cast in the film of the Ray Cooney farce Run for Your Wife alongside Danny Dyer, Sarah Harding and Neil Morrissey.[23] In 2013 she co-wrote the one-woman musical play Some Girl I Used To Know with Terry Ronald,[24] which she will tour in from January 2014.[25]

In February 2015, it was announced that Van Outen would be joining the cast of EastEnders.[26] Van Outen plays intelligent businesswoman Karin Smart who gets involved with Max Branning (Jake Wood), and has business history with Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden). In August 2015, Van Outen performed the title role in a concert performance of the musical Sweet Charity at Cadogan Hall,[27] with actor/singer Michael Xavier, ex-Girls Aloud band member Kimberley Walsh and West End star Kerry Ellis.

In September 2018, it was announced that she would be joining the cast of the 2018 London revival of Chicago at the Phoenix Theatre in the West End as Velma Kelly.[28] Due to start rehearsals on September 10, 2018 in preparation for her first performance on September 24, it was discovered that Van Outen had suffered a stress fracture in her heel, postponing her return to the production with her new dates yet to be announced.[29]


In 2007, Van Outen co-presented Who Dares, Sings! with Ben Shephard and in 2008 she fronted Sky1's Hairspray: The School Musical. She currently narrates the ITVBe series The Only Way Is Essex.

Van Outen guest presented This Morning in 2005, The Friday Night Project in 2006, The 5 O'Clock Show in 2010, Lorraine in 2010 and 2012 and Sunday Brunch in 2013. She was a judge on the 2011 series Born to Shine. She was a guest panellist on an episode of Loose Women in 2014 and became a regular panellist on the show in September 2017.

Van Outen has been the presenter of Matalan Presents: The Show since 2016. On 30 August 2017, she was announced as one of the four judges on the first season of Ireland's Got Talent in 2018.[30]


On 4 February 2008 van Outen reunited with her former Big Breakfast partner Johnny Vaughan as co-host of Capital Breakfast on Capital Radio.[31] On 29 July 2008 she quit the show, halfway through her contract, because of TV commitments and the early mornings.[32] However, in April 2011 van Outen said that she left the show because relations between her and Vaughan had soured. She claims Vaughan has not spoken to her since.[33] In spring 2013, van Outen started presenting her own Saturday afternoon radio show on London's Magic 105.4, airing between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm.

Strictly Come DancingEdit

In September 2012, van Outen was announced as one of the celebrities competing on the tenth series of Strictly Come Dancing. She partnered with professional dancer James Jordan. The couple secured top of the leaderboard seven times. However, controversy arose when viewers criticised her participation in the competition because of the advantage of having had previous stage experience.[34] On 20 December 2012, van Outen and Jordan finished as the runners-up alongside Kimberley Walsh & Pasha Kovalev, behind winning couple Louis Smith and Flavia Cacace.[35]

Other workEdit

Van Outen has designed two collections thus far for the website, Very, part of the Shop Direct Group. The first collection was a maternity range launched in March 2010 and the second an autumn/winter collection.[36]

Personal lifeEdit

From 1998 to 2001, she dated Jamiroquai lead singer Jay Kay. The couple were engaged,[37] but split up in 2001. Jamiroquai album A Funk Odyssey is mostly about their break-up.[38]

From 2009 to 2013, she was married to Any Dream Will Do winner Lee Mead.[39] They have a daughter together Betsy, who was born in 2010.

Van Outen has worked with charity. She actively supports Breast Cancer Care[40][41] and Great Ormond Street Hospital. In 2009 Van Outen climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief, and in 2013 took part in a trek across the Great Wall of China for the Royal Marsden Hospital.[42]



Year Title Role Notes
1998 Jack and the Beanstalk Jill Televised pantomime
1999 Tube Tales Alex in segment "Horny"
2000 Love, Honour and Obey Maureen
2007 Are You Ready for Love? Rita
2012 Keith Lemon: The Film Herself Cameo
2012 Run for Your Wife Michelle Smith


Year Title Role
1995–1996 Massive! Presenter
1997–1998, 2000–2001 The Big Breakfast Presenter
1998–2000 The Record of the Year Presenter
1998–1999 Babes in the Wood Leigh Jackson
1999–2000 Something for the Weekend Presenter
2001 Prickly Heat Presenter
2001 Murder in Mind Debra Squires
2004 Passport to Paradise Presenter
2005 This Morning Guest presenter
2006 The National Lottery: Christmas Special Presenter
2007 Any Dream Will Do! Judge
2007 Grease: You're the One that I Want! Presenter
2007 The Friday Night Project Guest presenter
2008 Backstage at the Brits Presenter
2008 Who Dares, Sings! Co-presenter
2008 Hairspray: The School Musical Presenter
2010 The 5 O'Clock Show Guest presenter
2010, 2012 Lorraine Guest presenter
2010—present The Only Way Is Essex Narrator
2011 Born to Shine Judge
2012 Strictly Come Dancing Contestant
2013 Sunday Brunch Guest presenter
2014, 2017–2018 Loose Women Guest panellist (2014)
Regular panellist (2017–18)
2015 EastEnders Karin Smart
2016–present Matalan Presents: The Show[43] Presenter
2018–2019 Ireland's Got Talent Judge
2019 Neighbours Prudence Wallace


All singles, unless otherwise stated:

  • 1994: "Wanna Make You Go... Uuh!" (with Those 2 Girls) [UK No. 74]
  • 1995: "All I Want" (with Those 2 Girls) [UK No. 36]
  • 1998: "Especially for You" – shown as Denise & Johnny (a cover of the Kylie Minogue & Jason Donovan song of the same name) [UK No. 3]
  • 1999: "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" – from the ABBAMania compilation album
  • 2002: "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" (With Andy Williams) [UK No. 23]
  • 2003: "Tell Me on a Sunday" (Original cast recording) [UK Album Charts No. 34]
  • 2007: "Baby It's Cold Outside" – duet with Russell Watson on his 2007 album Outside In


  1. ^ a b c A blonde has more fun The Observer – 25 March 2001
  2. ^ "TV Guide biography". 27 May 1974. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  3. ^ a b Biography All Saints A to Z Archived 5 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2 January 2006.
  4. ^ Denise van Outen: Why heartbreak only makes her stronger Sunday Mirror – 6 February 2005
  5. ^ Anita Dobson and Denise Douglas Archived 7 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine – Retrieved 11 August 2007
  6. ^ "Stars who got a break on The Bill". The Guardian. UK: Guardian Media Group. 26 March 2010. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  7. ^ MyVillage – various, from 2007
  8. ^ a b CV at agents PfD Archived 16 November 2007 at the Wayback MachineRetrieved 11 August 2007
  9. ^ "Drama – Murder in Mind". BBC. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  10. ^ "Van Outen's career goes down the Tube" BBC News – 3 December 1998
  11. ^ "Van Outen lights up Chicago" BBC News – 18 April 2001
  12. ^ Ovation for returning Van Outen BBC News – 30 April 2002
  13. ^ Cast List – "Tell Me On a Sunday Archived 8 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine – retrieved 11 August 2007
  14. ^ The Basildon princess and the King of easy melody – united at last in a West End musical – BBCNews, 2003
  15. ^ Denise Van Outen -'I'm getting old and kids think I'm..." Sunday Mirror, 30 November 2003
  16. ^ Van Outen joins Where the Heart Is, 2005 – Retrieved 11 August 2007
  17. ^ "Rent – Denise Van Outen Takes on Maureen" IndieLondon 2007
  18. ^ Denise Van Outen gives costar laryngitis after lesbian kiss Archived 18 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine Now Magazine, 2007
  19. ^ Mueller, Andrew (24 July 2009). "Watch this". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  20. ^ "Denise's laugh at blondes | The Sun |Showbiz|TV". London: The Sun. 9 June 2009. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  21. ^ "Blondes | Edinburgh Festival Guide". Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  22. ^ "Denise Van Outen, Siobhan Dillon and Carley Stenson to Join West End's Legally Blonde". Playbill. 27 August 2010. Archived from the original on 2 October 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  23. ^ "Run For Your Wife". Run For Your Wife. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  24. ^ What's On Stage,
  25. ^ "Some Girl I Used to Know". Some Girl (2013) Ltd. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  26. ^ Daniel Kilkelly (2 February 2015). "EastEnders: Denise Van Outen signs up for guest role". Digital Spy. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  27. ^ "Sweet Charity in concert starring Denise Van Outen". Cadogan Hall. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  28. ^ "DENISE VAN OUTEN to star as Velma Kelly in CHICAGO". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  29. ^ "Following Injury, Denise Van Outen Postpones Return to Chicago in London's West End | Playbill". Playbill. 10 September 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  30. ^ "Ireland's Got Talent is COMING To TV3". TV3. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  31. ^ "Denise van Outen to become Capital Radio Breakfast Co-host". BBC News. 10 January 2008. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
  32. ^ "Van Outen quits Capital Radio a half-year early". Brand Republic. 29 July 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  33. ^ "Denise Reveals Johnny Rift". Sky Living Online. 8 April 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  34. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing 2012: Denise Van Outen: 'The hate has been hard' | Strictly Come Dancing 2013". Telly Mix. 22 December 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  35. ^ Press Association (23 December 2012). "Strictly Come Dancing final watched by 14 million | Television & radio |". London: Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  36. ^ Berwin, Lisa (12 February 2010). "Very launches maternity range with Denise van Outen | News". Retail Week. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  37. ^ Kay Jay Kay Jay: 'I will marry Denise' BBC News – 19 November 1999
  38. ^ Retrieved 11 August 2007.
  39. ^
  40. ^ "". 30 September 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  41. ^ "Virgin Money Giving | Fundraising | Denise & Fearne's Trek for Breast Cancer". 24 September 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  42. ^ "Christine Edwards is fundraising for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity". Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  43. ^ "Denise Van Outen to front ITV-produced fashion show on Matalan platforms". 5 September 2016.

External linksEdit