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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Rosaleen Fenton

How June Brown clinched EastEnders role after chance suggestion from another soap legend

It is impossible to separate chain-smoking, hypochondriac launderette worker Dot Cotton from June Brown.

The iconic EastEnders role was perfect for June - and millions of us tuned in every night to watch the going-ons in Albert Square.

The actress died at her home in Surrey on Sunday with her family by her side - and now tributes have flooded into praising the EastEnder's stalwart.

Years later, the soapland icon revealed how she clinched the role after a series of small appearances in Coronation Street, Minder, The Bill and Doctor Who.

But it was thanks to Leslie Grantham - Dirty Den - who saw her in Minder and suggested her for Dot Cotton.

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Dot Cotton, played by June Brown, was one of the soap's most-loved characters (Mirrorpix)

In 2012, June told the Guardian: "The show had been running for 20 weeks when I joined. Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler) had been keen to create a family atmosphere so I felt like a spare prick at a wedding.

"I'd sit in a corridor, worried that everyone was thinking, "What's she doing here?" I'd seen an early episode but there was a lot of shouting so I'd switched it off.

"I wasn't into soaps. In those days, it could ruin your career because you'd be typecast.

"Leslie Grantham (Den Watts) suggested me for the part of Dot Cotton after seeing me in Minder.

"I'm sure I got the job because, during my interview with the show's co-creator Julia Smith, I told her I had to leave to be in time for another rehearsal. She valued punctuality and commitment."

Eastenders 1985 cast set up in the Queen Vic L (BBC)

She continued the part for eight years, before leaving in 1993 to pursue other interests, but returned in 1997 and remained there until 2020.

In an interview in 2013, June told how she initially thought she would appear on the soap for three months, enabling her to pay her sister back.

And it dashed her hopes of treading the boards with other esteemed actors.

In her autobiography, she wrote: "By the time I joined EastEnders I'd done some films, I'd done Sunday Bloody Sunday, I'd worked for Sam Peckinpah and John Schlesinger and I'd done some television.

"Suddenly my salary dropped from £14,000 a year down to £3,300 with the dole included.

"I thought I was going to be in EastEnders for three months, which would enable me to pay back my sister, who'd lent me money to survive."

But she never regretted joining the famous soap, adding that she felt like her career "was vanishing in the year before I went into it."

She added: "EastEnders was a marvellous lifesaver."

EastEnders executive producer Chris Clenshaw said: “When you join EastEnders, there are some characters both on and off screen that are just iconic and June Brown, OBE, MBE is at the top of that list.

“Her creation and portrayal of Dot Cotton made a huge impact in British television, she created iconic moments that not only entertained the nation but at times changed it a little for the better.

“I had the pleasure of working with June when I was the story producer and when you have the talent such as June Brown to work with, you always knew it was going to be magic.

“I speak for us all at EastEnders when I say that today is a very sad day as June Brown was a truly special and unforgettable woman. We send our deepest sympathies to June’s family.”

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