'EastEnders' star John Altman reveals June Brown helped save daughter from drowning

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June Brown and John Altman shared the screen in 'EastEnders' as Dot Cotton and her son Nick. (Getty)
June Brown and John Altman shared the screen in 'EastEnders' as Dot Cotton and her son Nick. (Getty)

EastEnders actor John Altman has revealed that on-screen mum June Brown once helped to save his daughter from drowning while they were by a pool in Gibraltar.

Brown, who famously played Dot Cotton on the BBC soap and was one of Britain's most beloved telly stars, passed away earlier this week at the age of 95.

Read more: Tributes pour in for soap legend June Brown

Altman portrayed Dot's evil son Nick Cotton in numerous stints from 1985 until the character's death in 2015, and remained a close friend of Brown's until her final days.

He told the Mirror that Brown helped to save his young daughter in 1992 when they were in Gibraltar for a charity cricket tournament in 1992.

Watch: John Altman pays tribute to his screen mother June Brown

Altman said he had warned six-year-old Rosana not to run beside the pool in case she fell over, before turning back to talk to other guests.

He added: "A little later we were interrupted by a splash and June, who was facing the pool, said: ‘I think that was Rosanna, dear’.

Read more: Clip of June Brown meeting Lady Gaga resurfaces online

"I leapt to my feet. Rosanna was nowhere to be seen. She’d fallen in, sunk straight to the bottom, then bobbed up and was struggling. I took her in my arms and got her out, thanking June profusely.

"I dried off my daughter and I couldn’t be cross with her. I was just so glad she was safe and sound. God bless June. I’ll always feel indebted to her."

John Altman and June Brown first shared the screen when 'EastEnders' began in the 1980s. (Mirrorpix/Getty)
John Altman and June Brown first shared the screen when 'EastEnders' began in the 1980s. (Mirrorpix/Getty)

Altman has spoken in recent days about his closeness with Brown, who he referred to as a "second mother" off-screen, as well as their familial link in Albert Square.

He said he "felt very grateful" to have been one of the few people invited to visit Brown in February after her 95th birthday.

Read more: June Brown sent EastEnders set photos to fan

Altman said: "June was tucked up under blankets in a wheelchair in her living room, with a lovely view of her garden. I kind of knew she was near the end of her life.

"I told her I loved her and held her warm, frail hand. I managed to make her laugh a few times. And she, as always, made me laugh."

John Altman played Nasty Nick in 'EastEnders' multiple times over the course of 30 years. (Mirrorpix/Getty)
John Altman played Nasty Nick in 'EastEnders' multiple times over the course of 30 years. (Mirrorpix/Getty)

Both Brown and Altman first appeared in EastEnders in its early days in 1985 and made frequent appearances over the years, with Brown serving as a core cast member until she departed Walford in 2020.

In 2008, she took part in the first ever single-hander episode in soap history, carrying an entire half-hour in a monologue watched by almost nine million viewers.

Read more: June Brown recalls final conversation with Barbara Windsor

Brown was nominated for a Bafta award for Best Actress, which marked the first time since 1988 that a soap actress had been recognised in the category.

The star was made an MBE in 2008 and was awarded an OBE earlier this year.

Watch: Graffiti tribute to June Brown appears in London

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