The Queen Vic is up for sale and fans are waiting to see who will take over EastEnders‘ iconic pub now the Carters are selling up for the sake of Linda’s sobriety – but surely Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) is the only choice?
She’s as synonymous with the place as the bust of the monarch itself, or Tracey the silent barmaid, inextricably linked to a location that has hosted many of her defining moments. Isn’t it high time she returned?
When we first met Shazzer as a fluffy pink jumper-wearing teenager in episode one in 1985 the Vic was her home – Dirty Den’s precious princess grew up in the famous boozer dodging the mud being slung between her warring parents, and trying to support her sozzled mum Angie through her alcoholism.
By the early 1990s she was all grown up and running it herself, with first husband grunting Grant Mitchell at her side. His older brother Phil Mitchell also lived with the newly-weds, but the honeymoon was well and truly over just months into the marriage when Sharon thought she’d keep it in the family and slept with her hubby’s more sensitive sibling (as he was back then, strange as that now sounds).
It was years before the affair was sensationally exposed in one of EastEnders’ most memorable moments – the 1994 ‘Sharongate’ reveal in which her recorded confession of the fling was played through the speakers to a packed pub celebrating Phil and Kathy Beale’s engagement (the irony).
The shame drove Sharon out of Walford until 2001, when she made a surprise return and sneakily purchased the public house from under the nose of former mother-in-law Peggy Mitchell, forced into a quick sale due to debts wracked up by ex-husband Frank Butcher.
Has there been a more quotable comeback than Sharon appearing behind the bar for the first time in years purring the words: “‘Allo Peggy – bet you never thought you’d see me again…”?
With Grant gone, Sharon and Phil fell back into each other’s arms and reigned over the Vic as a fully-fledged couple for the first time, not the naughty secret their relationship started out as.
Sadly that didn’t last and Shaz went off to run a nightclub named after her parents (remember when E20 was ‘Angie’s Den’?), but the Watts name was reinstated above the Vic’s door in 2003 when Den came back from the dead and seized control of the Walford watering hole from the Mitchells. Actually, the less said about that whole era the better…
Kat and Alfie, Peggy and Archie and, since 2013, Mick and Linda are among those who’ve been privileged to call the pub theirs since the last time Ms Watts was in charge. Now it’s up for grabs again and Sharon is in desperate need of a fresh start following the tragic death of son Dennis Rickman.
Phil’s thoughtful expression when he heard the Carters were jacking it in suggests he may be considering buying it back as a peace offering for his wife, perhaps as a way of drawing a line under a traumatic few months following her affair with Keanu Taylor and birth of their baby boy Kayden, topped off by Denny’s drowning demise.
Yes it’s full of ghosts and some sad memories (isn’t everywhere in Albert Square?), but Sharon works best as a drama magnet, a tragic heroine constantly fighting off whatever life throws at her. She’d be guaranteed strong storylines and emotional turmoil if she was landlady again – just the way we like it.
And there’s a sense she’d be going full circle and coming back to her childhood home at the age of 50, older, tougher, if not necessarily wiser – especially if she gets back with Phil.
It seems a bit soon to reunite with her estranged ex after everything that happened, and we’d prefer to see her going it alone behind the bar and not relying on a fella – some of Corrie’s most effective eras in the Rovers, Weatherfield’s Queen Vic equivalent, were with strong, independent and defiantly single women ruling the roost – Bet Lynch, Liz McDonald, Natalie Barnes.
For the sense of nostalgia and heritage, the chance to be back at the heart of the community she loves, and the potential for her to revive Peggy’s immortal “Gerroutta my pub!” catchphrase – but with more pouting – please put Sharon back where she belongs…