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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Lisa McLoughlin

EastEnders’ Natalie Cassidy details Dot Cotton’s ‘gentle’ funeral episode: ‘It’s a proper send-off for her’

EastEnders star Natalie Cassidy has spoke about Dot Cotton’s upcoming funeral episode and admitted it’s her “favourite” episode to date.

Cassidy, who plays Sonia Fowler on the BBC soap, described the upcoming poignant instalment as “gentle” and said it’s a real celebration of the character’s life as several former Walford residents comeback to remember her.

As reported by Metro, the actress told media ahead of the episode: “It was one of my most favourite episodes that I’ve ever done, and that’s quite a big statement because I’ve done a lot.

“I feel like the audience is going to feel like they are there and part of it. It’s a slow-moving, gentle episode that’s got time to breathe.

“The audience has got time to think about Dot, and it is a proper send-off for her. The writing is immaculate, and everybody in it is great.

“It will be a real treat for people as it’s celebrating Dot and her life. As much as it’s upsetting, people will shed a tear, but they’ll also smile as it’s a celebration of Dot.

Cassidy’s character Sonia Fowler deliver’s Dot Cotton’s eulogy (BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

“She was the most iconic character of the show, and she’s our Queen of Walford, and that’s what she deserves!”

The soap icon also shared her gratitude to show producer, Chris Clenshaw, for letting her take the lead in the episode as her character delivers Cotton’s eulogy and admitted that it was great to see Sonia “at the heart of the show and have some emotional stuff to do”.

The upcoming funeral scenes come as June Brown, best known for her role as Dot Cotton, died peacefully at her home in Surrey in April at the age of 95.

A statement from Brown’s family read at the time: “We are deeply saddened to announce our beloved mother, June, passed away very peacefully at her home in Surrey on Sunday evening, with her family by her side.

“We would kindly ask that our privacy is respected at this very difficult time.”

The actress was a fan favourite on EastEnders for three decades before she left in 2020.

She arrived on Albert Square shortly after the soap began in 1985. Over the decades, she only had a break between 1993 and 1997 from the show.

Her biggest storylines included tackling issues such as euthanasia, cancer and homophobia.

Brown had starred on Coronation Street, Doctor Who, Minder and The Bill as well as costume dramas The Duchess Of Duke Street and Oliver Twist before she landed her iconic role on EastEnders.

She also served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service at the end of the Second World War.

Then the actress left to train at London’s Old Vic Theatre School in Lambeth before embarking on her successful acting career.

Over the years, she was nominated and bestowed with a number of glittering awards for her role as Dot Cotton including a lifetime achievement honour at the 2005 British Soap Awards.

She was nominated for the Best Actress prize at the TV Baftas for her standalone episode of the soap in 2009.

Recognised for her services to drama and to charity, Brown was made an OBE in the New Year Honours in December 2021.

Previously, she had been made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2008 for services to drama and charity.

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