EastEnders cast Silent Witness star Jonny Freeman as Dot Cotton’s great-nephew

British actor Jonny Freeman has landed the role of Dot Cotton’s great-nephew in EastEnders.

Freeman, who has featured on the BBC’s Silent Witness and Channel 4’s Top Boy, will play Reiss Colwell, the grandson of Dot’s uncle Bob Colwell.

His character has always wished for a close relationship with his extended family and, after hearing the news of Dot’s death, he is compelled to attend her funeral in Albert Square.

Things get friendly between him and Natalie Cassidy’s character, Sonia Fowler, after they share a moment of sadness at Dot’s funeral.

Freeman, who also played Frank London on CBBC’s MI High, said: “I am delighted to be joining the cast of EastEnders, especially as part of the iconic Dot Branning’s extended family.

“Everybody has been so welcoming and I’m very lucky to have been working so closely with the lovely Natalie Cassidy, who is not only a fantastic actress but a delightful person.

“She has very kindly helped me navigate my first few weeks.

“I hope I can do Reiss justice. He is kind but socially awkward and seeing how he manages, or doesn’t manage, his early exchanges with Sonia and her nearest and dearest has been quite interesting.”

His arrival in Walford will come as residents of Albert Square say their final farewells to Dot in a special episode honouring the death of EastEnders stalwart June Brown.

June Brown
June Brown as Dot Cotton on EastEnders (BBC/PA)

Brown became a cultural fixture for her long-running turn as the inimitable Dot Branning – best known as Dot Cotton, the character’s previous married name – who was one of Walford’s best loved and most memorable figures.

The actress, who played the chain-smoking hypochondriac for over 30 years, died at her home on April 3 aged 95.

Brown first set foot in Albert Square in 1985 in the soap’s 40th episode.

She took a break between 1993-1997.

In 2008, she became the first EastEnders actress to carry an episode single-handedly.

In it, Cotton dictated her life story to a cassette tape so her husband could listen to it in hospital.

Speaking of Freeman’s casting, EastEnders’ executive producer Chris Clenshaw, said: “Reiss Colwell is a somewhat studious, humble and dependable kind of guy and, like his great-aunt Dot, is incredibly kind hearted.

“Jonny is a wonderful addition to the EastEnders cast. It’s a joy to see him transform into Reiss when he puts on Reiss’s reading glasses and cardigan.

“And we’re all excited for Sonia to have a new squeeze in the Square – it’s been a while.”