June Brown's 10 best EastEnders moments as Dot Cotton


EastEnders legend June Brown, who plays Dot Branning/Cotton, has confirmed she has left the BBC soap.

With her headscarf and a cigarette in hand, Dot has been a fixture in Walford since 1985, the year the show began.

Brown is now 93 and has told a podcast that she has “left for good” after 35 years.

Here are some of her most memorable moments.

1. Dot arrives in Walford

“Give us a tea, Lofty. And a glass of water so I can take a Paracetamol.”

Those were the first words June Brown uttered as Dot Cotton, on 4 July 1985 – five months after the show launched.

“I got a script and it was a series of illnesses,” the actress later recalled, explaining how she made Dot a three-dimensional character.

“I thought, I can’t play a list of illnesses. I thought, what can I do? Well, she is a hypochondriac and she is always worried about her illnesses. I thought, why?

“Because nobody loves her. Her husband comes and goes. Steals her money, her jewellery. Her son the same – threatens her with a knife and all sorts of things, and she has no-one who really loves her.”

2. “Did you get those fig rolls?”

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Dot (left) with Ethel, played by Gretchen Franklin (centre), and Lou, played by Anna Wing

Dot and Ethel (played by Gretchen Franklin) were among the soap’s great double acts, and in 1987 they shared a touching two-hander episode in which they reminisced about their lives during the Second World War while babysitting little Vicki.

After popping out to buy bread and fig rolls, Dot returned to find Ethel asleep in the armchair and thought she had died. The distraught Dot got the shock of her life when Ethel stirred with the immortal words: “Did you get those fig rolls?”

3. Nick’s murder plot

Dot was constantly trying to steer her bad boy son Nick (played by John Altman) onto the straight and narrow, with little success.

In 1990, he even stooped to almost killing his own ma to steal her big bingo winnings, which he wanted to use to buy drugs.

He intended to poison her by cooking a special shepherd’s pie, but changed his mind at the last minute and went out for fish and chips instead.

4. Dot’s herbal brew

After a four-year break from the soap between 1993 and 1997, Dot returned to the Square to be faced with a familiar mix of highs and lows.

A different kind of high came when she dabbled in “alternative therapies”, with viewers seeing Dot stoned when she confused cannabis for herbal tea – and found herself under arrest as a result.

5. Ethel’s death

One of her most gripping – and controversial – moments came in 2000 when terminally ill Ethel asked Dot to help her take an overdose of morphine to end her life.

Dot agreed to go against her strict Christian beliefs and left out pills and a glass of water for her. “You’re the best friend I ever had,” Ethel told her.

The episode was seen by 16.5 million people.

Wracked with guilt, Dot turned to shoplifting in order to get herself arrested, but police didn’t believe her when she told them about Ethel.

6. Love and marriage

After turning him down once, Dot finally agreed to marry neighbour Jim Branning (John Bardon) when he popped the question on the London Eye on Christmas Eve 2001.

“I love you,” said Jim. “I don’t think you’re half bad either,” was her reply.

The pair tied the knot on Valentine’s Day 2002.

7. Dot’s Story

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Dot returned to Wales for the spin-off Dot’s Story

In 2003, a one-off episode titled Dot’s Story showed flashbacks to Dot’s wartime childhood, when she was evacuated from London to Wales.

The couple who took her in welcomed young Dot with open arms, but her arrival soon soured their relationship. Older Dot returned to find the wife on her deathbed and still blaming Dot for running away after the death of her husband.

8. Bafta-nominated monologue

Dot had a whole episode to herself in 2008, the first British soap character to do so.

It was a poignant monologue that showed her hidden depths as she recorded a tape for her husband, who had suffered a stroke (a storyline that arose because Bardon had suffered a stroke in real life).

The performance earned Brown plaudits including a Bafta nomination for best television actress in 2009, although she didn’t win. “I was a bit disappointed. I would have liked to have got it quite honestly,” the actress later said.

But she got a real gong that year, being made an MBE for services to drama and charity.

9. Nick’s death

Dot had always tried to see the good in her wayward son, so viewers were shocked in 2015 to see her let him die.

After hearing him own up to multiple murders, she bought heroin for him and decided not to call the emergency services as he overdosed and lay dying in her arms.

“I ain’t called the ambulance,” she told him. “I prayed to let Jesus decide whether you get better or whether the world was a better place without you.”

She confessed to police and spent four months in jail for manslaughter.

10. Goodbye to the launderette

After coming out of prison, she discovered the launderette where she had worked for all those years was to become a dry cleaner’s, and she was out of a job.

Viewers saw her say a sad farewell by walking around the shop and turning the lights off at Christmas 2016.

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