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Denise Fox

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Denise Fox
Denise fox
Diane Parish as Denise Johnson in 2010
EastEnders character
Played by Diane Parish
Introducer Kate Harwood
Duration 2006—
Arrival 11 May 2006
Classification Present; regular
Spin-off appearances "East Street" (2010)
Alias Denise Fox (maiden name)
Denise Turner (married name)
Denise Wicks (married name)
Date of birth 29 January 1969[1]
Occupation Post Office assistant (2006–07)
Taxi driver (2008–09)
Shop assistant (2008—)

Denise Celeste Fox (née Johnson; previously Turner and Wicks) is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Diane Parish. She made her first appearance on 11 May 2006. Parish temporarily left EastEnders in early 2008 to give birth to her second child. Her exit coincided with the permanent departures of cast members Phil Daniels (Kevin Wicks), Kellie Shirley (Carly Wicks) and Matt Di Angelo (Deano Wicks). She returned to Walford on 6 June 2008.


On 7 November 2005, the BBC announced that Diane Parish had been cast in EastEnders as a "sassy, strong" character with links to the established Wicks family, who would be "a force to be reckoned with."[2] Parish had previously appeared in the serial as singer Lola Christie in 1998.[2] In January 2006, Parish's character was revealed to be Denise Fox, who would embark on a romance with fellow newcomer Kevin Wicks (Phil Daniels). Tiana Benjamin was cast as Denise's daughter Chelsea, and spoke of her admiration for Parish, eagerly anticipating the opportunity to work with her.[3] Lara Gould of the Sunday Mirror described the new characters as the "feisty Fox family", revealing that Denise would have a second, younger daughter, Elizabeth ["Libby"], played by Belinda Owusu. Gould reported that the family would "arrive in Albert Square with a bang and [...] cause friction from the off", expanding: "The Fox girls don't take any nonsense – they'll be a force to be reckoned with."[4] Lee Ross was later cast as Denise's ex-husband and Libby's father Owen Turner. Kris Green of media and entertainment website Digital Spy described Owen as having had "a disappointing life", revealing that Denise had separated from him as a result of his heavy drinking.[5]

Denise went on to marry Kevin, acting as stepmother to his children Carly (Kellie Shirley) and Deano (Matt Di Angelo). Parish briefly departed from the show to take maternity leave, and when Daniels declined to renew his contract, he, Shirley and Di Angelo were written out permanently, coinciding with Parish's temporary exit.[6] In Denise's absence, Chelsea reunited with her estranged father Lucas Johnson, with Don Gilet cast in the role.[7] Upon Parish's return, Denise and Lucas ultimately reunited, with Gilet commenting: "He's found a woman who's strong-willed, strong-minded, a good mother to their shared child and to Libby and [Lucas' son] Jordan (Michael-Joel David Stuart). It's kind of ideal and he's worked so hard for it. Nothing, but nothing, should stop that - he deserves to have this. It's one of these situations where he likes the idea that he's earned this relationship. That seems to be more of a priority than the pure love he has for her. He loves what he's earned and he's now this respectable person who wants to hold on to what he has by any means necessary."[8]

When Lucas' ex-wife Trina (Sharon Duncan Brewster) began interfering in their relationship, Lucas was instrumental in her death,[9] and went on to kill Owen when he came close to discovering the truth.[10] In May 2010, Green reported that in an upcoming episode, Lucas would be seen to strangle Denise and dispose of her body in a canal. He questioned whether Parish was to be written out of the soap,[11] following the announcements that both Benjamin and Owusu would be leaving EastEnders later in 2010.[12][13] Discussing the storyline, Gilet refused to reveal whether Lucas would kill Denise, but indicated that events may not be as they seemed.[14] Parish commented: "It looks really bad as he gets Denise in a headlock and chokes her. If she survives, it'll be a miracle."[15] Following the episode where Denise appeared to be strangled by Lucas, entertainment journalist Sharon Marshall appeared on This Morning, saying there would be "twists and turns" but would not confirm whether Denise was dead or alive.[16] It ultimately transpired that Lucas had faked Denise's death to hold her hostage in a basement. Parish found it difficult to keep details of the storyline a secret, and struggled to lie when questioned by members of the public.[17]

Questioned about the future for Denise following the departure of her daughters, Parish responded: "She is lost without her babies, but then her sister Kim comes along and she's a brilliant distraction. As for men, I think Denise should give them up and get a cat, but I'm sure she'll end up in another destructive relationship."[17] She told Daniel Kilkelly of entertainment website Digital Spy: "I don't think she'll be looking for a new man any time soon. I think she's just going to take it easy on the man front. I think what needs to happen with the family is that everybody just needs to find their own way to find their own peace. I think that's the future really for all of them."[18]



Brought up by her mother Ada, Denise never knew her father; the only clue she had as to his identity was that he played in a band called "The Five Hectors", the members of which were Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker), Aubrey Valentine (Joseph Marcell), Cedric Lucas (Ram John Holder), Dwight and Earl. Denise and Lucas Johnson (Don Gilet) had a relationship when they were teenagers and she fell pregnant with his baby at sixteen. He was a drug addict and constantly let her down. He could not cope with being a father and fled, leaving Denise to bring up their daughter Chelsea (Tiana Benjamin) alone. Denise went on to meet Owen Turner (Lee Ross) in 1989 and after starting a relationship, she fell pregnant in late 1990. Owen and Denise married in a shotgun ceremony a few months later, and Denise gave birth to daughter Libby (Belinda Owusu) in July 1991. Owen was a doting father but later became an alcoholic in 1999 and was abusive to Denise. Denise eventually left him, taking the children with her. Their divorce was finalised a year later, 2000.


Denise as she appeared in 2006

Moving to Walford in May 2006, Denise has a tempestuous encounter with Kevin Wicks (Phil Daniels); however, an attraction develops and they begin dating. Problems arise when Denise's ex-husband Owen tries to reunite with Libby. Denise is opposed to this but with Libby's encouragement, she begins to warm to Owen again. They sleep together, which ends her relationship with Kevin. However, Denise regrets her actions, and when she tells him this, he beats her. Owen apologises when he is sober, but Chelsea persuades Denise to banish him from their lives, after which he turns violent again; he beats Denise and takes Kevin hostage at knife point, until he is arrested. Libby persuades Denise to provide a character witness for Owen at his trial; he is subsequently given a suspended sentence, but upon his release he kidnaps Libby, phoning Denise to tell her that he is going to kill her and commit suicide. Denise rushes to Epping Forest, where Owen is, but this causes him to try and drown Libby and himself. Denise and Kevin find Libby unconscious, but she survives and Owen is imprisoned. In the wake of her family's ordeal, Denise reunites with Kevin and moves her family in with his.

In October 2006, Patrick reveals that he played in "The Five Hectors" during his youth, leading Denise to conclude that he might be her long lost father. Patrick has a paternity test which confirms that he is not Denise's father, but after growing close to Libby, he pretends he is. Denise finally discovers the truth while holidaying with Patrick in Dorset, but despite her upset, she forgives him for lying. When Kevin's ex-wife, Shirley Carter (Linda Henry), arrives in Walford, she causes numerous problems for Denise and Kevin. Shirley reveals Kevin's secret, that he is not the biological father of Shirley's children Deano (Matt Di Angelo) and Carly (Kellie Shirley), and in the wake of this, Kevin flees, abandoning Denise. Upset, Denise threatens to move away, but she is stopped by Kevin, who returns and proposes marriage. Denise initially rejects him, but eventually accepts. Shirley tries to ruin their wedding by turning up at the ceremony to inform Denise about a recent sexual encounter she had with Kevin; however, Kevin has already confessed and Shirley's attempt at stirring only encourages her to go through with the wedding, though she kicks Kevin in the groin before saying "I do".

Throughout the remainder of 2007, Denise weathers various problems, including Chelsea and Deano's imprisonment for framing Sean Slater (Robert Kazinsky), Kevin's dishonesty when he attempts to cover their crime, and a feud with her boss at the post office, Zainab Masood (Nina Wadia), which causes Denise to lose her job and get reinstated several times. In December 2007, Kevin starts selling cars for Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden), but later discovers they are cut-and-shuts; he tries to destroy the cars but has a fatal motor accident on New Year's Eve 2007 whilst doing this. Denise is devastated to receive the news of Kevin's death and following his funeral in January 2008, she decides to travel the world with Carly and scatter his ashes.


Denise returns to Walford in June 2008, but is angry to discover Chelsea is using drugs and is in contact with her father, Lucas Johnson. Denise is initially hostile to Lucas, but she warms to him when she sees he has changed and they eventually reunite. Despite some hitches, Denise proposes to Lucas and they make plans to marry, although their plans are thwarted when it is revealed that Lucas is still married to a woman named Trina (Sharon Duncan Brewster), the mother of his son Jordan (Michael-Joel David Stuart). Trina turns up in Walford and reveals that she and Lucas had a fling at Christmas. Denise forgives Lucas but Trina continues to interfere in their relationship. Unknown to Denise, Lucas and Trina have sex again. Trina tries to seduce Lucas in a shed but he pushes her away and her throat is impaled on a rake. He manipulates the situation to make it seem Trina suffered a drugs-related death, and the police come to the conclusion that Trina's demise was accidental. Owen, however, suspects Lucas' involvement in her death, and attempts to dissuade Denise from marrying him. When Owen threatens to go to the police, Lucas murders him by strangulation, and the wedding goes ahead.

Owen's body is discovered eight months later. Lucas confesses to Denise, claiming he killed him in self defence. Denise is initially horrified, but urges Lucas not to tell the police. He later confesses to her that he could have saved Trina's life but chose not to, then says he will go to the police and tell them everything. Instead, he takes Denise to a canal, intending to baptise her. When Denise refuses to submit to God, he strangles her until she goes limp. He fakes Denise's suicide, implicating her in Trina and Owen's murders, while keeping Denise prisoner in the basement of the empty house next door. Lucas gradually comes to the realisation that his actions were wrong, and allows Denise to escape. She returns home to her shocked family, and as she explains events to them, but Lucas arrives and holds them hostage. When Jordan returns home, everyone manages to escape from the house, and Lucas is arrested. After a spell in hospital, Denise returns home to hear that Chelsea is planning to move to Spain with Owen's mother Liz (Kate Williams) to start a new life. Realising that her daughters will continue to be haunted by their past if they stay in Walford, Denise encourages Libby to leave with her sister and grandmother for a holiday before returning to university. After waving her daughters goodbye Denise breaks down, telling Patrick that she has lost her girls. The next day they both attend the funeral of the prostitute, Gemma (Rita Balogun), that Lucas murdered. When they return home, Denise's sister Kim (Tameka Empson) arrives saying that she has left her boyfriend Dexter (Robbie Gee), and asks to move in with them.

Jane Beale (Laurie Brett) confides to Denise that she is sick of her husband, Ian's (Adam Woodyatt) lies, and intends to leave him. Jane also explains that she plans to take some of Ian's money, and asks Denise to open a bank account for her to transfer funds. Denise refuses, and tries to persuade Jane to reconsider her plans. Denise then gives Ian hints that he has to treat Jane better, which leads to Ian allowing Jane to adopt his son Bobby. Denise hopes that this will make Jane change her mind, but Jane still wants to leave Ian, and tells Denise that once she has adopted Bobby, she can fight for access to him.

In December, Lucas's sister, Gloria MacDonald (Michele Austin) comes to the house to see Jordan. Denise demands that she leaves, and she does so. Jordan then says he thought his dad was supposed to be locked up, not him.


Parish has been nominated for several awards for her portrayal of Denise. In 2007, she was nominated for the "Best Actress" award at the British Soap Awards,[19] while Denise was nominated in the "I'm A Survivor" category at the All About Soap Bubble Awards.[20] In 2009, Parish was nominated for the "Best Actress" award at the Inside Soap Awards,[21] and in 2010, she received a nomination for the "Best Soap Actress" award at the TV Choice awards.[22]

In 2009, Ruth Deller of entertainment website Lowculture—who runs a monthly feature chronicling the most popular and unpopular soap opera characters—profiled Denise, stating: "The Foxes are one of the strongest families on EastEnders at the moment, and that's pretty much all down to Denise, who is a-mazing. We also love her frenemy-ness with Zainab."[23] Jim Shelley of the Daily Mirror questioned the credulity of the storyline which saw Lucas hold Denise hostage having faked her suicide. He quoted Denise's line: "Another thing I don't get. Why am I supposed to have killed myself? What 'reason' did I have?!" observing: "NO REASON of course. The writers hadn't even made one up - although that didn't stop Walford CID quickly deciding Denise had killed Owen and Trina even though they had no evidence and she had a watertight alibi."[24] Nathan Bevan of the Wales on Sunday also deemed the storyline far-fetched, commenting: "she'd been kept prisoner in the basement of the abandoned house next door [...] and no one heard her screaming for help through the walls? What part of the East End is this?"[25] Inside Soap stated in January 2011 that whilst Denise headed up the Fox family, they were "a right bunch of miseries" and opined they would party with lively sister Kim and only let Denise come if she "promises to crack a smile".[26]

See alsoEdit


  1. In the episode broadcast on 4 November, Denise's driving licence is seen, showing her date of birth as 29-01-1969.
  2. 2.0 2.1 BBC (7 November 2005). "Kellie Shirley and Diane Parish to join EastEnders". Press release. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  3. BBC (30 June 2010). "Harry Potter star to join EastEnders". Press release. Retrieved 12 January 2006. 
  4. Gould, Lara (12 March 2006). "New foxy family hit Walford". Sunday Mirror (Trinity Mirror).;col1. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  5. Green, Kris (9 May 2006). "Lee Ross heads to 'EastEnders'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  6. Green, Kris (18 August 2007). "'Kevin Wicks' quits 'EastEnders'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 20 June 2010. 
  7. Hilton, Beth (29 January 2008). "'Babyfather' star joins 'EastEnders'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  8. Green, Kris (17 November 2009). "Don Gilet (Lucas Johnson, 'EastEnders')". Digital Spy. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  9. Kilkelly, Daniel (4 September 2009). "Don Gilet: 'EastEnders will get darker'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  10. "A quick chat with EastEnders badman Don Gilet". What's on TV. IPC Media. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  11. Green, Kris (5 May 2010). "Pics: Lucas to kill loved one in 'EastEnders'?". Digital Spy. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  12. Green, Kris (2 April 2010). "Tiana Benjamin quits 'EastEnders'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  13. Green, Kris (17 April 2010). "Six characters to leave 'EastEnders'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  14. Green, Kris (10 May 2010). "'EastEnders' Lucas: The camera can lie..." (video). Digital Spy. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  15. "Denise Johnson needs Enders miracle". The List. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  16. "". This Morning. ITV1. ITV. 9 July 2010.
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Diane Parish: 'I can breathe a sigh of relief'". What's on TV. IPC Media. 27 July 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  18. Kilkelly, Daniel (23 July 2010). "Exclusive: Diane Parish (Denise Johnson, 'EastEnders')". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  19. Green, Kris (27 May 2007). "The British Soap Awards 2007: The Winners". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  20. "Bubble Awards 2007". BBC Online. 1 March 2007. Archived from the original on 1 March 2007. Retrieved 31 March 2009. 
  21. Wightman, Catriona (13 July 2010). "In Full: Inside Soap Awards 2010 Nominees". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  22. "TV Choice Awards!". BBC Online. 18 May 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  23. Deller, Ruth (28 February 2009). "Soapstar Superstars: February". Lowculture. Retrieved 30 June 2010. 
  24. Shelley, Jim (2 August 2010). "EastEnders story of Lucas murder plot is not the bee's Denise". Daily Mirror. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  25. Bevan, Nathan (1 August 2010). "Lucas a pastor master of delusion on EastEnders". Wales on Sunday. Western Mail. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  26. "What a difference a year makes!". Inside Soap (Hachette Filipacchi UK) (52): 43. 1 January 2011. 

External linksEdit

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