‘EastEnders’ icon Dot Branning’s most underrated moments

EastEnders' Dot was the heart of the community. (BBC)
EastEnders' Dot was the heart of the community. (BBC)

News of EastEnders legend Dot Branning’s (June Brown) death reaches Walford on Thursday night on BBC One, with the show airing a double bill from 7pm.

From the moment Dot’s son Nick Cotton (John Altman) tried to poison her, to that BAFTA-nominated monologue to husband Jim (John Bardon), the put-upon character was at the centre of some powerful storylines.

But how about those times that the beloved Walford mainstay stole the show in quieter, subtler fashion? Dot was the local listening ear, the wise voice of reason and queen of the laundrette.

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Let’s look back on Dot’s most underrated moments as we pay tribute to the heart of Albert Square.

Dot fights for the laundrette

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Dot was Queen of the laundrette. (BBC)

Mr Papadopolous (Lee Warner), the laundrette boss whose name Dot famously struggled to pronounce, intended to close up for good.

So Dot set up a new business strategy, and impressed Mr P enough for him to offer her a promotion.

Dot’s job cemented her within the community, and it was a sad day when she finally left the laundrette.

Dot vs Pat

When Dot’s feckless first husband, Charlie Cotton (Christopher Hancock), announced he was leaving her again for his mistress, Dot was devastated that her perfect Christmas had been ruined.

Pat Wicks (Pam St Clements) pointed out that Dot was unlikely to keep Charlie, and criticised her ‘skills’ as a wife. Dot dished out an almighty slap, leaving mouthy Pat wishing she’d held her tongue.

Dot reveals a secret

Dot Cotton shares a secret with Sonia on EastEnders. (BBC)
Dot Cotton shares a secret with Sonia on EastEnders. (BBC)

Dot’s step-granddaughter Sonia Jackson (Natalie Cassidy) kidnapped her young daughter Rebecca, who she had given up for adoption. When Dot stepped in to talk to troubled Sonia, the teen claimed that Dot had no idea what it was like to lose a child.

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Dot revealed that in fact, she once lost a daughter of her own. That heartbreaking bombshell stopped Sonia in her tracks, and she eventually handed the child back.

Killer confrontation

Pauline Fowler (Wendy Richard) collapsed and died following a violent altercation with daughter-in-law Sonia. But Dot discovered that Pauline’s widower, Joe Macer (Ray Brooks) was the real killer. Dot condemned him and, as Joe restrained her, she called out for help.

Jim was on hand to rescue his wife, and guilty Joe fell through a window to his death. But thanks to Dot, the truth was exposed and Sonia was vindicated.

Computer says no

Dot Branning spooked herself with Bradley's computer on EastEnders. (BBC)
Dot Branning spooked herself with Bradley's computer on EastEnders. (BBC)

Left alone with a computer, a nervous Dot was curious after step-grandson Bradley Branning (Charlie Clements) told her all about the wonders of instant messaging. She was soon sending loving messages to Sonia, but was spooked when she accidentally set the device to record herself.

"Oh my Lord!" Dot exclaimed, staring wildly at the computer screen in a comical scene.

'I ain’t fluent in gibberish'

Having taken in many waifs and strays across the decades, Dot kept up the tradition by offering Arthur ‘Fatboy’ Chubb (Ricky Norwood) a roof over his head.

But it was their very first meeting that led to one of EastEnders’ most iconic partnerships. Cheeky Fatboy wandered into the laundrette hoping to win Dot round, only for her to respond in classic style that she had no idea what his street slang actually meant.

The world according to Dot

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It was Dot who talked grandson Charlie through Ronnie's past. (BBC)

EastEnders aired one of its most controversial plots in 2010, when Ronnie Mitchell (Samantha Womack) lost her baby son to cot death and ended up swapping him with Kat Slater’s (Jessie Wallace) newborn baby.

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Years later, Ronnie was set to marry Dot’s grandson, Charlie Junior (Declan Bennett). When Charlie heard about his bride’s past, Dot sat him down and explained what had caused a traumatised Ronnie to react the way she did. The poignant scene helped make sense of the situation, and cleverly acknowledged the nation’s confusion over such a shocking storyline.

Dot uses reverse psychology on Phil

Dot Cotton with Phil Mitchell on EastEnders. (BBC)
Dot Cotton with Phil Mitchell on EastEnders. (BBC)

Not one to be fazed by the glare of the Square’s local hard man, Dot tackled Phil Mitchell’s (Steve McFadden) vulnerability with some clever tactics. Phil had liver failure caused by his alcoholism, and had accepted he was dying.

Dot suggested that Phil wasn’t brave enough to keep fighting — clearly hoping to motivate him into doing just that. And despite numerous other brushes with death, Phil lives on to this day.

EastEnders airs a double bill tonight from 7pm on BBC One, with Dot's death confirmed during the 7.30 episode.

Watch the tributes for late EastEnders star June Brown