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EastEnders: Natalie Cassidy praises emotional farewell for ‘Queen of Walford’ Dot Branning

EastEnders,12-12-2022,6606,***EMBARGOED TILL SATURDAY 3RD DECEMBER 2022***, BBC, Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
EastEnders will give Dot an emotional send-off. (BBC)

Iconic EastEnders character Dot Branning is set to be laid to rest in upcoming scenes. And as star Natalie Cassidy explains, it’s set to be an emotional occasion.

Cassidy, who plays Dot’s step-granddaughter Sonia Fowler, is full of praise for the episode, which will see the return of Sonia's cousin Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa). She promises fans will really connect with the scenes, following the loss of Dot actor June Brown earlier this year.

Speaking about filming the special instalment, the actor says: “It was one of my most favourite episodes that I’ve ever done, and that’s quite a big statement because I’ve done a lot.”

EastEnders,12-12-2022,6606,Sonia Fowler (NATALIE CASSIDY);Lauren Branning (JACQUELINE JOSSA),***EMBARGOED TILL SATURDAY 3RD DECEMBER 2022***, BBC, Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
Jacqueline Jossa returns as Lauren Branning as Dot is laid to rest. (BBC)

Hinting what viewers can expect, Cassidy adds that “the audience is going to feel like they are there and part of it. It’s a slow-moving, gentle episode that’s got time to breathe.”

She also confirms that Dot’s final goodbye will be a fitting farewell for the EastEnders legend.

Read more: EastEnders icon Dot Branning’s most underrated moments

“The audience has got time to think about Dot, and it is a proper send-off for her. The writing is immaculate, and everybody in it is great. It will be a real treat for people as it’s celebrating Dot and her life.

EastEnders,05-12-2022,6602,Sonia Fowler (NATALIE CASSIDY),***EMBARGOED TILL TUESDAY 29TH NOVEMBER 2022***, BBC, Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
Sonia is heartbroken by Dot's passing. (BBC)

“As much as it’s upsetting, people will shed a tear, but they’ll also smile as it’s a celebration of Dot. She was the most iconic character of the show, and she’s our Queen of Walford, and that’s what she deserves!”

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Having grown close to co-star Brown over the years, Cassidy tells us that filming Dot’s funeral was an opportunity to honour both her and the character.

“It was very emotional, I have to say. Obviously, losing June as well makes it very hard. I went to June’s funeral and said my goodbyes there, but it was very emotional to film Dot’s send-off.

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Beloved mainstay Dot will be much missed. (BBC)

“When you are talking about someone, with pictures of her around, those things trigger you, and you miss that person. So doing the eulogy for me was like doing a real eulogy. Hopefully, that will come across on-screen, and you will see it’s all real feelings for Dot and June.”

With Dot having been such a strong presence in the community, could Sonia be on hand to take on that role? Cassidy certainly likes the idea.

Read more: Ex EastEnders stars set to return for emotional Dot Branning funeral scenes

“I would never ever fill anyone’s shoes – let alone Dot’s – but I think out of every character in the Square, Sonia could be the person others come to in times of need.

EastEnders,12-12-2022,6606,Colin (LORD MICHAEL CASHMAN);Sharon Watts (LETITIA DEAN);Zack Hudson (JAMES FARRAR);Ricky Mitchell (FRANKIE DAY);Denise Fox (DIANE PARISH),***EMBARGOED TILL SATURDAY 3RD DECEMBER 2022***, BBC, Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
The star promises a fitting farewell in the upcoming special episode. (BBC)

“Sonia loves a bit of a gossip, but she’s also really kind, and people can come and sit with her for a cup of tea and chat. As a nurse, Sonia has so much heart. It’s hard because she works hard, doesn’t get much money, and represents a lot of people living today.”

The actor concludes that she has always made a conscious effort to keep Sonia ordinary. “I love the fact that Sonia is a normal person. In soap, you must always have your big characters and glamorous icons, but I’ve always tried to keep Sonia just bog standard with her scrunchie in her hair.

“Hopefully, what I bring to that [is] realness. Maybe in thirty-five years, Sonia will be running the laundrette!”

Watch the latest EastEnders spoilers