EastEnders star Natalie Cassidy says she faced ‘difficult time’ after June Brown’s death

Natalie Cassidy has spoken about the “difficult time” she faced following the death of EastEndersco-star June Brown in 2022.

The actor who first appeared as Sonia Fowler on the BBC soap opera in 1993, led the cast during the emotional funeral storyline of her on-screen grandmother Dot Cotton, played by Brown.

It came after the real-life death of veteran actress Brown in April 2022 at the age of 95.

“It was very, very difficult for me because obviously I’ve lost a dear friend,” Cassidy told The Mirror.

“She taught me a lot and we had a lot of laughs over the years. When she was 82 years old she’d be partying in a nightclub, and she was just so amazing.”

Cassidy said there was “a lot resting on my shoulders” during the funeral scenes, but said she thinks she did Brown “proud”.

Brown’s chain-smoking Dot was perhaps EastEnders’ best-known star, joining the cast in the show’s first year, 1985.

She won several awards for her portrayal of Dot, including a lifetime achievement honour at the 2005 British Soap Awards, and in December 2021 she was made an OBE for services to drama and to charity.

Cassidy will next be seen fronting a new podcast with Gavin & Stacey star Joanna Page, after the pair met last year on ITV’s Loose Women.

Natalie Cassidly, who plays Sonia Fowler in EastEnders, and the late June Brown, who played Dot Cotton (Getty Images / PA)
Natalie Cassidly, who plays Sonia Fowler in EastEnders, and the late June Brown, who played Dot Cotton (Getty Images / PA)

“We clicked immediately,” Welsh star Page said.

The pair are set to launch a new BBC Sounds podcast titled Off The Telly, as they discuss three or four shows each week.

It comes after Gavin & Stacey star Ruth Jones, who co-created the hit BBC sitcom with James Corden, denied rumours of another reunion.

Page said: “It’s all gone absolutely mad with those rumours and it’s so sweet and lovely that everybody still loves the show.

“But cross my heart, I honestly don’t know. I’d never ask Ruth (Jones) or James (Corden) if they’re planning on writing any more. That would look a bit sad, wouldn’t it?

“But would I do the show again? I’d absolutely jump at it. It was a fantastic job with a fabulous cast. We had a right laugh from start to finish. My children recently watched the first Christmas special which they loved.”

With additional reporting from PA.