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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Louise Lavigueur

June Brown as a young woman who changed the world of soaps

A youthful black and white picture of EastEnders actress June Brown has emerged as tributes are paid to the woman who played the Soap matriarch for 35 years.

But for generations of fans who tuned in to watch the BBC soap she will be remembered as the character Dot Cotton - one of British TV’s longest serving artists who passed away on Sunday night aged 95, with her family at her bedside.

EastEnders bosses paid a heartbreaking tribute to June, writing: "We are deeply saddened to announce that our beloved June Brown, OBE, MBE sadly passed away last night. There are not enough words to describe how much June was loved and adored by everyone at EastEnders, her loving warmth, wit and great humour will never be forgotten...

A youthful looking June Brown before she became a national treasure as she appeared as Dot Cotton in EastEnders (ANL/REX/Shutterstock)

"June created one of the most iconic characters in Dot Cotton, not just in soap but in British television, and having appeared in 2884 episodes, June’s remarkable performances created some of EastEnders finest moments…"

Now, we take a look back at her iconic character and of course, her life outside of Albert Square.....

Brown took on the role of Dot Cotton in her later years but it was one which profoundly changed her life forever, as she closed the door on her successful stage career which had gone before.

Then aged 60, she was originally recommended for the role by EastEnders star Leslie Grantham, who played Vic landlord Dirty Den and once cast became a familiar face for viewers back home as chain-smoking Dot.

Dot Branning in EastEnders (Daily Mirror)

But despite her long serving presence in Albert Square she didn't have an easy ride as her son 'Nasty' Nick Cotton would bring trouble to her door and even plot to kill her.

But as if in any doubt, Dot proved she was made of strong stuff and she carried on despite the loss of her many friends from Pauline Fowler to Ethel Skinner, as well as her onscreen husband Jim Branning.

June as Dot Cotton, the chain-smoking laundrette lady whose iconic character appeared in the soap across three decades (BBC)
June had a stage career before landing the role of Dot aged 60 (Getty Images)

Her presence was so great that BBC bosses took the bold move to base an entire episode of the Soap solely focusing on Dot's life.

The episode entitled Pretty Baby aired on 31 January 2008.was watched by 8.86 million viewers and critics sited at the time that any other actress would have been able to pull of the monologue.

She was also acknowledged by BAFTA for Best Actress in the 2009 awards for her performance.

Brown continued to work until her health forced her to take stock and script writers even wrote into her character Dot, to mirror her own gradual sight loss, before she exited the soap in early 2020 aged 93.

June carried on working until 2015 and scooped up a string of awards including a BAFTA and Outstanding Achievement award at the British Soap Awards (Getty Images)

Speaking on the Distinct Nostalgia podcast to former co-star Rani Singh, who played shop owner Sufia Karim, June said: “I don’t want a retainer for EastEnders, I’ve left. I’ve left for good.

“I’ve sent her off to Ireland where she’ll stay. I’ve left EastEnders. I did make up a limerick. It’s a bit dirty.I went back to do a good story. Alas and alack, when I got back it had gone up in smoke.

“I got a small part, a very small part. And that ended up as a big wet fart. Alas and alack, I will never go back.”

June was Winner of Best On-Screen Partnership and Lifetime Achievement Awards (WireImage)
June as Dot in EastEnders with Dr Legg played by Leonard Fenton (PA)

Star quality

Although best known for EastEnders Brown had started out as a classically trained actress.

She was a gifted actress trained by the likes of Laurence Olivier, Michel Saint-Denis and Glen Byam-Shaw.

Her legendary tours of the Young and Old Vic Schools saw her play some of her most memorable parts and cement her acting credentials.

June will be missed by many (PA)
The actress pictured in 2002 (PA)

Her other plays include An Inspector Calls , The Lion in Winter , A View from the Bridge , and numerous pantomimes.

During her early career, she played the roles of Hedda Gabler and Lady Macbeth.

In 2009, Brown played Jessie in the West End production of Calendar Girls at the Noël Coward Theatre.


Away from Albert Square

Brown married in 1950 to John Garley, also an actor but sadly he suffered from depression and took his own life in 1957.

She later married actor Robert Arnold and had six children in seven years, one of whom died in infancy.

The couple were together for 45 years, until he died in 2003.

She continued working until 2015 when she retired from EastEnders due to failing health.

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