EASTENDERS actress Scarlett Johnson has announced plans to quit the show amid rumours her character, Vicki Fowler, was to have an internet affair with on-screen dad Dirty Den
Insiders for the top BBC show say the 19 year-old British beauty was repulsed by the prospect of fashion designer Vicki finding love on the net, only to discover her mystery hunk was in fact craggy chain-smoking co-star Leslie Grantham.
It is said lurid tabloid images of a naked Grantham acting out of his skin in front of a webcam in his dressing room were to blame.
In an exclusive interview with Spoof, Johnson revealed she was prepared to embrace the acting wilderness if it meant avoiding controversial on-screen action with the Cockney actor.
"It is possibly the most disgusting concept I have ever heard - how can they even entertain the prospect of Vicki falling for Dirty Den," said Johnson, a graduate of the Eldorado School of Drama, "Eastenders has had some controversial storylines in the past but this idea takes the biscuit - I'd rather have Freddy Krueger's love child".
Johnson's character, the daughter of Michelle Fowler and Den Watts, first arrived in Albert Square in January 2003. Faster than fans could say, "Jerry Springer fathered my quads", her shaky American accent had given way to a Cockney lilt worthy of skiffle king Lonnie Donegan.
Feisty Vicki has since discovered she had a half brother in Den Watts jnr, survived a nightclub fire she became trapped in while stashing bootleg booze and underwent an abortion after a romp with Square sap Spencer Moon.
In recent times, viewers have seen Den pining for some female company after his wife Chrissie unearthed his affair with Geordie beautician Kate Mitchell. Both women kicked the gormless granddad into touch afterwards and, despite an attempt to seduce two brassy punters in his club, he has been loitering in the barren wastelands of enforced chastity ever since.
Vicki on the other hand decided cyberspace is more exciting than a night in the Vic with the drippy Moon lad. She stumbles upon an internet chat room and begins a flirty online romance with "Game Geeza" from E17, unaware her new love is actually her wayward father typing voraciously on his laptop in Ian Beale's cafe.
Johnson went on:
"I suppose it illustrates why you shouldn't take people in chat rooms at face value, but the prospect of being linked romantically with Dirty Den is something no actress should have to face so early on in her career. I do have a couple of pantomimes lined up later in the year but in the meantime I have been asked to become the 21st century face of Cadbury's Flake - at least chocolate is easier to get worked up about."
The Den/Vicki storyline is the latest valiant attempt by Eastenders bosses to claw back armies of viewers from rival ITV Coronation Street and Emmerdale.
Loyal fans have been struggling to come to terms with the quality of storylines of late, which have included Ronny Ferreira and his dodgy kidney, Den Jnr and half sister Sharon fighting a misunderstood passion and pensioner Jim Branning's nightmarish attempts to convince new wife Dot that sharing a double bed on their wedding night will not result in eternal damnation.
Talking of Dot's impending demise, insiders for the show rebuffed accusations that the storyline involving her kidney tumour arose as they've already done a large amount of relevant medical research.
In a statement read out by the show's legal team yesterday, bosses said: "Yes we spent a lot of time researching kidney problems but to suggest we cannot be bothered reading up on other ailments is ludicrous - we are professionals - we're perfectly capable of dreaming up other devastating medical conditions to win back viewers."
It has since emerged that a BBC researcher responsible for soap ailments has been admitted to a London hospital, suffering from kidney related problems. Medics are as yet unsure what the problem is, though they're sure they can drag it out for another five or six weeks before reaching a dramatic conclusion.