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Denise van Outen (born Denise Kathleen Outen, 27 May 1974) is an English actress, singer and television presenter. Her most notable roles to date are as a presenter on The Big Breakfast, and as Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago on both the West End and on Broadway.

Early life

Born Denise Kathleen Outen in Basildon, Essex, she is the youngest of Ted and Kathleen Outen's three children and was raised Catholic.[1] She has a brother Terry and sister Jackie.[2][3]

At the age of seven, she began modelling for knitting patterns,[2] and showed an early flair for performing. This resulted in her attending the Sylvia Young Theatre School. In 1986, at age 12,[1] she played Eponine in Les Misérables alongside fellow Sylvia Young student Melanie Blatt[4] (the role paid her school fees[5]), 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.[2]

Early career

As a teenager she had brief roles on a number of television dramas including Kappatoo,[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.[4]

Van Outen has retained her distinct looks gracing the covers of popular men's and Women's titles and being voted both Rear of the Year in 1999, and top of a poll to find the most desired "bikini body" in a 2007 poll of readers of Grazia magazine.[7]


During 1995, van Outen started her television career on Saturday morning ITV show Scratchy and Co's mini youth programme Massive! On October 28, 1995, magician Simon Drake made an appearance on the show, where he performed a horror-themed version of the sawing a woman in half illusion on Van Outen. As Drake sawed through the box containing Van Outen using a large hand saw, she screamed with agony as blood was seen to flow from the bottom of the box, before apparently passing out. Having sawed Van Outen in half, inserted the metal divider blades and separated her halves, Drake then simply walked away, leaving Van Outen still locked inside the illusion and in two pieces as the show cut to a commercial break. When the show returned from the break, a relieved Van Outen had been restored to one piece and released from the illusion. The somewhat gory nature of this performance led to a number of viewer complaints, and the show's producers were warned by the regulators to moderate the show's content. Drake returned to the show on several other occasions, performing a number of other illusions on Van Outen including beheading her with a very realistic guillotine. Van Outen joined The Big Breakfast on Channel 4 as a weather and travel reporter in 1996[8] and landed the main co-presenting role in 1997. It proved to be her big breakthrough, with her cheeky "Essex Girl" personality and sexy clothing playing off well against the quick wit of Johnny Vaughan, and together they recovered audience figures to respectable levels.

She took a break from presenting the show towards the end of 1998 but returned in 2000 for a further year-long stint in an attempt to boost the ratings, which had tailed off following her departure.[9] When the show closed down,[10] van Outen gave Vaughan a present of a set of AMG wheels for his Mercedes Benz CLK - commented on as a "very Essex Girl" by Jeremy Clarkson when the pair appeared on the BBC's Top Gear programme.[11] She presented Something for the Weekend on Channel 4 in 1999.

Van Outen then returned to television, reviving her on screen relationship with Johnny Vaughan in 2004 for one series of the BBC's Saturday night family revival show "Passport to Paradise,"[12] She continued in 2005 co-presenting ITV's This Morning with Richard Bacon.

Van Outen was asked to be a panelist How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? in 2006 for the BBC, a programme searching for a girl to play the role of Maria in The Sound of Music,[13] but was unable to accept the offer due to commitments in the USA co-hosting NBC's Grease: You're the One that I Want!

After her commitments ended on the show she began re-establishing her television career in the UK. In November 2006, she hosted Sky1's The Race - set at Silverstone Circuit - in which a celebrity Girls Team headed by David Coulthard raced against a celebrity Boys Team headed by Eddie Irvine. In December 2006, she hosted the National Lottery Christmas special, and in January 2007 hosted one show of The Friday Night Project. She also guested on The Charlotte Church Show, and was one of the judges at the Miss World pageant in Warsaw, Poland.

In 2007, she joined the panel for BBC One's follow up to How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do! which was casting Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.[8] After viewers on 9 June 2007 voted Lee Mead as the winner of Any Dream Will Do! - to play the role of Joseph in a revival at London's Adelphi Theatre of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat van Outen said: "From the very beginning right through to the very end, Lee has been the most consistent out of all the contestants. He has the ability to make even really popular songs his own and he has his own unique style of performing. The next time he lands a role as a leading man, can he put me forward to be the leading lady?"[14]

In July 2007, she appeared in a commercial advertising the rebranding of Morrisons supermarket, with a backing track from revived boy band Take That.[15]

In 2008 Denise presented 'Backstage at the Brit's' for ITV1 and continued with a new Saturday night entertainment series for ITV1, alongside Ben Shephard, called Who Dares Sings. Challenging 100 members of the studio audience to hit the right notes in the largest karaoke competition on TV.[16] Her on screen presence continued with For One Night Only alongside Michael Buble and Hairspray: The School Musical for Sky One. The programme saw Denise mentor a group of regular school kids to put on their own version of Hairspray on the West End Stage. Denise also recently appeared in the BBC One drama Hotel Babylon on 24 July 2009.

In June, Denise presented a week's run of The 5 o'clock show with Melanie Sykes.

Acting career

During her first stint on the Big Breakfast show, she appeared as Jill in ITV1's version of the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk.[17] 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,[18] and on 2 series of Babes in the Wood with Karl Howman and Samantha Janus.[17]

Van Outen has also appeared in film, initially as Maureen in the crime comedy Love, Honour and Obey. She had a cameo tease as red head Alex, in the low-key Tube Tales in one of the four separate short films, based on the London Underground. Other directors included Ewan McGregor, Jude Law and Jarvis Cocker; while her part in "Horny" was directed by Lost In Space director Stephen Hopkins.[19] Most recently, 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.[20] 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.[21] 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,[22][23] which he reworked for her. She was a huge success and the show ran for nearly a year.[24] 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.[25]

Van Outen played Maureen in the 2007 London revival of Rent Remixed directed by William Baker until 22 December.[26] She was forced to cancel some performances due to a throat infection.[27]

In July 2009, Van Outen played Mary in Hotel Babylon for the BBC. Her character was at the hotel for a science convention.[28]

In August 2009 Van Outen made her Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut[29] in Blondes[30] (a show by Jackie Clune).


It was announced on 10 January 2008 that van Outen would be reunited with Johnny Vaughan and become the co-host of the Capital Radio breakfast show, from 4 February 2008.[31]

However, on 29 July 2008 she decided to quit the show half way through her contract due to juggling her extensive TV commitments with the early mornings [32]

Comic Relief climb

In 2009 van Outen climbed Mt Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief. Joining her on the climb were Girls Aloud members Cheryl Cole and Kimberley Walsh, Fearne Cotton, Ben Shephard, Gary Barlow, Ronan Keating, Alesha Dixon and Chris Moyles.

Personal life

Van Outen's personal life has been subjected to the sharp glare of the British tabloid media. In 1991, aged 17, she had a relationship with shamed popstar Gary Glitter.[33][34][35] In 1996 Van Outen dated Dodgy guitarist Andy Miller. From 1998 to 2001, she dated Jamiroquai lead singer Jay Kay. They were engaged and reported to be on the verge of marriage,[36] but split up in 2001; his album A Funk Odyssey is mostly about their break-up, with the song "Little L" expressing his fight against cocaine addiction during their break up.[37]

From 2003 she dated 'Brown's' club owner Richard Traviss, but split up with him in May 2005,[24] moving out of the Marylebone home they shared and back into her own garden flat in North London.[5] After appearing on Channel 4's The Friday Night Project and describing her first real kiss with fellow Sylvia Young student James Lance, he got in touch and they had a short romance in 2007.[38] In November 2007, she began dating Any Dream Will Do winner, Lee Mead. She married Mead in April 2009 in the Seychelles. They have one daughter together named Betsy who was born 1 May 2010.

Van Outen has lent her support to design limited edition T-shirts or vests for the 'Little Tee Campaign' for Breast Cancer Care which donates money for breast cancer research.[39] She continues to support Breast Cancer Charities and Great Ormond Street Hospital.


All singles, unless otherwise stated:

  • 1994: "Wanna Make You Go... Uuh!" (with Those 2 Girls) [UK #74]
  • 1995: "All I Want" (with Those 2 Girls) [UK #36]
  • 1998: "Especially for You" - shown as Denise & Johnny (a cover of the Kylie Minogue & Jason Donovan song of the same name) [UK #3]
  • 1999: "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" - from the ABBAMania compilation album
  • 2002: "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" (With Andy Williams) [UK #23]
  • 2003: "Tell Me On A Sunday" (Original cast recording) [UK Album Charts #34]


  1. 1.0 1.1 It was either quit my job or lose my man, says Denise Van Outen as she quits radio show
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 A blonde has more fun The Observer - 25 March 2001
  3. TV Guide biography
  4. 4.0 4.1 Biography All Saints A to Z Accessed 2 January 2006
  5. 5.0 5.1 van Outen: Why heartbreak only makes her stronger Sunday Mirror - 6 February 2005
  6. Anita Dobson and Denise Douglas anitadobsonfanclub.com - retrieved 11th August 2007
  7. MyVillage - various, from 2007
  8. 8.0 8.1 Bio at BBC Joseph BBC.com - retrieved 11th August 2007
  9. Van Outen's Breakfast return BBC News - 4 August, 2000
  10. Breakfast over for Denise and Johnny BBC News - 12 January 2001
  11. "Top Gear" Series4, episode5 bbc.co.uk/topgear - retrieved 11th August 2007
  12. Johnny and Denise lose Passport BBC News - 30 November 2004
  13. Denise Van Outen - Unreality TV
  14. BBC - Press Office - Public vote says West End in need of Lee Mead
  15. Denise Van Outen Is New Face Of Morrisons LSE.com - 23rd July 2007
  16. "Denise Van Outen to present Who Dares Sings". ITV.com. 30 May 2008. http://www.itv.com/Entertainment/Music/WhoDaresSings/default.html. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 CV at agents PfD - retrieved 11th August 2007
  18. BBC - Drama - Murder in Mind
  19. "Van Outen's career goes down the Tube" BBC News - 3 December 1998
  20. "Van Outen lights up Chicago" BBC News - 18 April 2001
  21. Ovation for returning Van Outen BBC News - 30 April 2002
  22. Cast List - "Tell Me On a Sunday - reallyuseful.com: retrieved 11th August 2007
  23. The Basildon princess and the King of easy melody - united at last in a West End musical - BBCNews, 2003
  24. 24.0 24.1 Denise Van Outen -'I'm getting old and kids think I'm..." Sunday Mirror, 30 November 2003
  25. Van Outen joins Where the Heart Is RTE.ie, 2005 - retrieved 11th August 2007
  26. "Rent - Denise Van Outen Takes on Maureen" IndieLondon 2007
  27. Denise Van Outen gives costar laryngitis after lesbian kiss Now Magazine, 2007
  28. Mueller, Andrew (24 July 2009). "Watch this". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2009/jul/24/proms-2009. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  29. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/2471293/Denises-laugh-at-blondes.html
  30. http://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/event/10001831-blondes/
  31. "Denise van Outen to become Capital Radio Breakfast Co-host". BBC News. 2008-01-10. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7181875.stm. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  32. Template:Citeweb
  33. Gary Glitter 'seduced girl, 14' BBC News - 9 November 1999
  34. Ten Things You Never Knew About Denise Van Outen Digitalspy, 2008
  35. why are they famous?: Denise Van Outen The Independent - 20 July 1997
  36. Jay Kay: 'I will marry Denise' BBC News - 19 November 1999
  37. contactmusic.com. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
  38. Denise dumps first-kiss guy - Sunday Mirror
  39. newkerala.com