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

EastEnders star June Brown saw her face become instantly recognizable with her iconic character Dot Cotton as she left the stage behind her to continue acting with the BBC soap and stayed for an impressive 35 years

Fresh-faced actress June Brown would become one of soap's most recognizable characters when she landed the role of Dot Cotton - a role she held for three decades
Fresh-faced actress June Brown would become one of soap’s most recognizable characters when she landed the role of Dot Cotton – a role she held for three decades

A teenage black and white picture of EastEnders actress June Brown has emerged as a tribute is paid to the woman who played the soap opera matriarch for 35 years.

But for generations of fans who watched the BBC soap, she will be remembered as the character Dot Cotton – one of British television’s longest-serving artists, who died 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 all of EastEnders, her loving warmth, wit and great sense of humor will never be forgotten…

A youthful looking June Brown before becoming a national treasure when she starred as Dot Cotton in EastEnders



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

Now let’s take a look back at her iconic figure and of course her life outside of Albert Square…

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

Back then, aged 60, she was originally recommended by EastEnders star Leslie Grantham for the role, playing Vic Dirty Den’s landlord and becoming a familiar face to viewers back home after being cast as the chain-smoking Dot.

But despite her long presence in Albert Square, she hasn’t had it easy as her son “Nasty” Nick Cotton brought trouble to her door and even plotted to kill her.

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

June as Dot Cotton, the chain-smoking laundress whose iconic character has appeared on the soap opera for over three decades



June had a stage career before taking on the role of Dot at the age of 60


(Getty Images)

Such was her presence that BBC bosses took the bold step of creating an entire episode of the soap that focused solely on Dot’s life.

The episode, entitled Pretty Baby, aired on January 31, 2008 and was seen by 8.86 million viewers and critics at a time when any other actress would have been able to pull off the monologue.

She was also recognized by the BAFTA for Best Actress at the 2009 awards for her performance.

Brown continued to work until her health forced her to take stock, and screenwriters even wrote in her character Dot to reflect her own gradual vision loss before she left the soap opera in early 2020 at the age of 93.

June worked until 2015 and won a number of awards including a BAFTA and an Outstanding Achievement Award at the British Soap Awards


(Getty Images)

Speaking on the Distinct Nostalgia podcast, June spoke to former co-star Rani Singh, who played shopkeeper Sufia Karim, and said: “I don’t want a henchman for EastEnders, I left. I’m gone forever

“I sent her to Ireland, where she will stay. I left EastEnders. I made a limerick. It’s a bit dirty. I went back to make a good story. Oh and woe, when I came back it had gone up in smoke.

“I got a small part, a very small part. And that ended in a big wet fart. Alas, I will never return.”

June was a winner of Best On-Screen Partnership and Lifetime Achievement awards.


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June as Dot in EastEnders with Dr. Legg played by Leonard Fenton



star quality

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

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

Her legendary tours of the Young and Old Vic Schools saw her perform some of her most memorable roles and hone her acting skills.

Her other pieces 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 girl at the Noël Coward Theater.




Away from Albertplatz

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

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

The couple were together for 45 years until his death in 2003.

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

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Fry Electronics Team

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