Denise van Outen (born Denise Kathleen Outen on 27 May 1974) is an English actress, singer, dancer and presenter. She is best known for presenting The Big Breakfast, for playing Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago both in the West End and on Broadway and for finishing as runner-up in the tenth series of the BBC One dancing show Strictly Come Dancing.Born Denise Kathleen Outen in Basildon, Essex, she is the youngest of Ted and Kathleen Outen’s three children and was brought up a Catholic. She has a brother Terry and sister Jackie.At the age of seven, she began modelling for knitting patterns, and showed an early flair for performing. This resulted in her attending the Sylvia Young Theatre School. In 1986, at the age of 12, she played Éponine in Les Misérables alongside fellow Sylvia Young student Melanie Blatt (the role paid her school fees), 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.Among her earliest roles was that of Dorothy in a little seen version of The Wizard of Oz set in the present day made for British Channel Five in 1995. During her first stint on the Big Breakfast show, she appeared as Jill in ITV1’s version of the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk 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, and on 2 series of Babes in the Wood with Karl Howman and Samantha Janus.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. 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. 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. 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, which he reworked for her. She was a huge success and the show ran for nearly a year. 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.Van Outen played Maureen in the 2007 London revival of Rent Remixed directed by William Baker until 22 December. She was forced to cancel some performances owing to a throat infection.In July 2009, van Outen played Mary in Hotel Babylon for the BBC. Her character was at the hotel for a science convention.In August 2009, van Outen made her Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut in Blondes, 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. 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.In 2013 she co-wrote the one-woman musical play Some Girl I Used To Know with Terry Ronald, which she will tour in from January 2014.In February 2015, it was announced that Van Outen would be joining the cast of EastEnders. 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 performs the title role in a concert performance of the musical Sweet Charity at Cadogan Hall, with actor/singer Michael Xavier, ex-Girls Aloud band member Kimberley Walsh and West End star Kerry Ellis.