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Eastenders star June Brown invites Ipswich school choir for hymn performance on Desert Island Discs

PUBLISHED: 16:50 10 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:17 10 February 2017

Ipswich High School for Girls to perform on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. Sunday's guest on the show is June Brown, who plays Dot Cotton in Eastenders, who went to the school as a girl in the 1930s and 1940s. Picture: Gregg Brown

Ipswich High School for Girls to perform on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. Sunday's guest on the show is June Brown, who plays Dot Cotton in Eastenders, who went to the school as a girl in the 1930s and 1940s. Picture: Gregg Brown

Pupils from a high school in Ipswich will be performing on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs after being invited by famed Eastenders actress June Brown.

June Brown (Dot Cotton from Eastenders) and Eve Nussbaum visit their old school, Ipswich School in Woolverstone, to talk to current pupils about their experiences.

 PICTURE: Wendy TurnerJune Brown (Dot Cotton from Eastenders) and Eve Nussbaum visit their old school, Ipswich School in Woolverstone, to talk to current pupils about their experiences. PICTURE: Wendy Turner

The 89-year-old Suffolk local, who is most known for her role as Dot Cotton in the long-running soap, was invited to share her top records for this Sunday’s programme.

In a nod to her roots growing up in Suffolk, June contacted Ipswich High School for Girls in January, having been schooled there in the 1930s and 1940s, and asked whether its choirs would perform.

After combined rehearsals from the school’s Piccolo Choir, Senior Choir and Senior Chamber Choir, the school recorded a number of takes on January 17, which will be featured on Sunday’s show.

Angela Chillingworth, director of music, said: “She was really nice and I was very excited, but at the same time daunted because her daughters said she is a perfectionist, so if she didn’t like the recording she wouldn’t use it!”

Univeristy College Suffolk 2011 graduation ceremony for the School of  Applied Social Sciences at the Ipswich Corn Exchange. 
Actress June Brown was receiving her Honourary Degree.Univeristy College Suffolk 2011 graduation ceremony for the School of Applied Social Sciences at the Ipswich Corn Exchange. Actress June Brown was receiving her Honourary Degree.

As a pupil, June had sung regularly and asked the school to perform a rendition of O Brother Man – a hymn she regularly sung as a schoolgirl that became a favourite into adulthood.

She has continued to be involved in aspects of school life at the prestigious establishment, having previously made visits and met students.

Ipswich High School for Girls to perform on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. Sunday's guest on the show is June Brown, who plays Dot Cotton in Eastenders, who went to the school as a girl in the 1930s and 1940s. Pictured is the School's music director Angela Chillingworth. Picture: Gregg BrownIpswich High School for Girls to perform on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. Sunday's guest on the show is June Brown, who plays Dot Cotton in Eastenders, who went to the school as a girl in the 1930s and 1940s. Pictured is the School's music director Angela Chillingworth. Picture: Gregg Brown

“She seems to have fond memories of the school and she has visited before to celebrate the achievements of the girls,” Mrs Chillingworth said.

June was born in Needham Market in 1927 and joined the high school on a scholarship.

After successfully completing her time in Ipswich she trained at the Old Vic as an actress, going on to star in a host of TV, theatre and film productions, including Doctor Who, Coronation Street, An Inspector Calls and Macbeth.

This weekend’s show is one of a number of programmes the BBC has made to celebrate her upcoming 90th birthday on February 16. Details of her other choices for her Desert Island Discs appearance will not be revealed until Sunday, but the school has shared an exclusive snippet of its performance online on its Soundcloud page.

Ipswich High School for Girls to perform on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. Sunday's guest on the show is June Brown (pictured), who plays Dot Cotton in Eastenders, who went to the school as a girl in the 1930s and 1940s. Picture: Gregg BrownIpswich High School for Girls to perform on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. Sunday's guest on the show is June Brown (pictured), who plays Dot Cotton in Eastenders, who went to the school as a girl in the 1930s and 1940s. Picture: Gregg Brown

Mrs Chillingworth added: “We are really excited to hear it. When I spoke to the producer he said it sounds lovely and it will be on their website forever because they archive it, which is really special.”

Tune in to www.bbc.co.uk from 11.15am on Sunday.

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