EastEnders recreates June Brown scene in nod to her first episode

EastEnders actress Natalie Cassidy has recreated late star June Brown’s first appearance in the soap, to mark its 37th anniversary.

Brown, best known for her role as chain-smoking Dot Cotton, died on April 3 at the age 95 with her family by her side.

The actress’s run as the Albert Square mainstay began on July 4 1985, when she burst into the Walford cafe asking for a glass of water and a paracetamol.

June Brown (BBC/PA)

In Monday’s episode, Cassidy replicated the scene, with her character Sonia Fowler sporting a trench coat and floral dress similar to the one Brown wore in the episode 37 years ago.

Speaking to Kathy Beale, played by Gillian Taylforth, Cassidy said: “Give us a tea Kath, and a glass of water so I can take a paracetamol.

“That early shift was a nightmare, I called on the Lord so many times I think I’m turning into Dot.”

Brown was perhaps EastEnders’ best-known star and larger-than-life Dot was known for her devout Christian faith and hypochondria, as well as her cigarette addiction.

The veteran actress, who had a long career in television and theatre, arrived in Albert Square shortly after the soap began, and aside from a break between 1993 and 1997, was a regular for more than three decades.

Kathy Beale and Sonia Fowler (Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron/PA)

She announced her exit from EastEnders in 2020 with little fanfare, revealing her decision on a podcast with a former co-star.

Dot had not featured in the soap for a month, when she left a voicemail for Sonia Fowler saying she had moved to Ireland.

Brown won several awards for her portrayal of Dot, including a lifetime achievement honour at the 2005 British Soap Awards.

In 2009 she was nominated for the best actress prize at the TV Baftas for her standalone episode called Pretty Baby, in which she spoke to a cassette recorder about her life so that her husband could listen to it as he lay in hospital following a stroke.

In December 2021 Brown was made an OBE in the New Year Honours, as she was recognised for services to drama and to charity.

She was previously made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2008 for services to drama and charity.