Ex 'EastEnders' stars set to return for emotional Dot Branning funeral scenes

June Brown played Dot Branning in EastEnders. (BBC)
June Brown played Dot Branning in EastEnders. (BBC)

Former stars of EastEnders are set to return to Albert Square to pay their last respects to Dot Branning this winter.

The BBC One soap will see Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa), Colin Russell (Lord Michael Cashman CBE), Barry Clark (Gary Hailes) George ‘Lofty’ Holloway (Tom Watt), Mary ‘the punk’ Smith (Linda Davidson) and Disa O’Brien (Jan Graveson) attend Dot's funeral - also giving the actors a chance to mark the passing of their former co-star after June Brown died aged 95 in April.

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Executive producer Chris Clenshaw said: “It’s an honour to invite so many of Walford’s beloved characters back to pay tribute to Dot. Over the years, Dot profoundly impacted the lives of many young people struggling with life’s biggest challenges. Her warmth, heart and compassion changed lives – so we wanted to reunite some of the people she helped the most.

"I’m thrilled these talented and generous actors wanted to share this special experience with us so we can give Dot a fitting send-off.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Jacqueline Jossa attends the National Television Awards 2020 at The O2 Arena on January 28, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Jacqueline Jossa will be back in Albert Square. (WireImage)

Jossa's character Lauren was Dot's step-granddaughter and has been living in New Zealand since 2018, but will be keen to get to know a handsome new resident of Walford.

She said: “Coming back to EastEnders for Dot's funeral was a no-brainer, and it was a real honour to be invited back. I had a lot of fun but, of course, it was bittersweet. It was amazing to be back, but hard to be filming this storyline.

"I can tell the viewers now that Dot gets the beautiful send-off that she deserves. June was the light and joy of EastEnders. I had so much fun working with her, the incredible stories and how infectious and witty she was. June is a legend and I miss her very much.”

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The returning actors are currently filming scenes that will bring viewers up to date with their characters' lives.

EastEnders legend June Brown
June Brown died aged 95. (PA)

Colin last appeared in Walford when he persuaded Dot to attend his same-sex wedding despite her religious beliefs and Lord Cashman who plays him said: “When I was asked back I didn’t even hesitate because I couldn’t have imagined not being there for June, and I know Colin couldn’t have imagined not being there for Dot – they had that amazing, deep friendship that lasted during their years, and it was exactly the same with June and me.

"June was unique, and there are so many incredible stories I could tell, but amongst my favourite moments of Dot was her monologue to Jim – she was a character, and actress, that will last beyond the test of time.”

Colin will appear alongside ex-love Barry for the first time since 1989, giving fans the chance to see how they are in each other's lives since their break-up all those years ago.

June Brown as Dot Branning
Dot's funeral will air this winter. (PA)

Davidson, returning as Mary, said: “I felt honoured to be asked to come back. It’s going to be an emotionally difficult few days, however the script is wonderful and it’s a joyful tribute to an East End legend.

"The highlight of my career was when Dot asked Mary to kneel and pray with her – there wasn’t a dry eye amongst all the crew. June really tutored me on the art of being still and taking my time in the scene, and was such a generous caring actor. I loved her very much.”

Disa's return is set to stir up uncomfortable memories for one Albert Square resident, while Lofty will show his success as a businessman.

Watt said: “June was amazing as Dot. She completely inhabited the character: grew with her, suffered with her and faced life's troubles with her. As soon as Dot appeared on screen, you knew June had all that history lighting up every look and every line in every single scene she was a part of.”

The funeral is due to air in EastEnders this winter.

Watch: Touching tribute to June Brown spotted in London