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Suffolk-born TV star leaves EastEnders after 35 years

PUBLISHED: 08:48 21 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:36 21 February 2020

EastEnders actress June Brown - who has left the popular soap - was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Suffolk (then University Campus Suffolk) in 2011 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

EastEnders actress June Brown - who has left the popular soap - was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Suffolk (then University Campus Suffolk) in 2011 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Veteran soap actress June Brown – who grew up in Suffolk – has left EastEnders after 35 years playing Dot Cotton.

June Brown, best known for her portrayal of Dot Cotton from EastEnders, visits her old school Ipswich High School in Woolverstone back in 2007 Picture: ARCHANTJune Brown, best known for her portrayal of Dot Cotton from EastEnders, visits her old school Ipswich High School in Woolverstone back in 2007 Picture: ARCHANT

The 93-year-old, who was born in Needham Market, announced she had left the role as the much-loved character in an interview for podcast Distinct Nostalgia.

Brown, who attended St John's Church of England School in Ipswich then won a scholarship to Ipswich High School, is one of the soap's longest-running and best-known characters.

She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Suffolk, then University Campus Suffolk, in 2011.

Dot had not featured since an episode last month, when she left a voicemail for Sonia Fowler, played by Natalie Cassidy, saying she had moved to Ireland.

EastEnders actress June Brown - who has left the popular soap - was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Suffolk (then University Campus Suffolk) in 2011 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEastEnders actress June Brown - who has left the popular soap - was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Suffolk (then University Campus Suffolk) in 2011 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

MORE: 'I grew up glued to Eastenders - now I'm the new girl on Albert Square'

Speaking on the podcast to former co-star Rani Singh, Brown said: "I don't want a retainer for EastEnders, I've left. I've left for good.

"I've sent her off to Ireland and that's where she'll stay. I've left EastEnders. I did make up a limerick. It's a bit dirty.

"I went back to do a good story. Alas and alack, when I got back it had gone up in smoke.

"Well that is no joke. I got a small part, a very small part. And that ended up as a big wet fart. Alas and alack, I will never go back."

June Brown and co-star Barbara Windsor pictured at the British Academy Television Awards 2009 Picture: ZAK HUSSEIN/PA WIREJune Brown and co-star Barbara Windsor pictured at the British Academy Television Awards 2009 Picture: ZAK HUSSEIN/PA WIRE

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EastEnders bosses said the door "remains open" for Dot to return should she choose to.

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Brown's stint on the soap as chain-smoking Albert Square mainstay Dot began in 1985 - the year it was created.

The 93-year-old is one of EastEnders' best-known stars - arriving on the show shortly after it started.

EastEnders actress June Brown - who has left the popular soap - was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Suffolk (then University Campus Suffolk) in 2011 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEastEnders actress June Brown - who has left the popular soap - was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Suffolk (then University Campus Suffolk) in 2011 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Aside from a break between 1993 and 1997, she has been a regular since.

Some of Dot's biggest storylines have explored controversial issues such as cancer, euthanasia and homophobia.

She was mother to notorious criminal Nick Cotton, played by John Altman, though her marriage to Jim Branning, played by John Bardon, was popular among fans.

MORE: How EastEnders star juggles being a hairdresser with world of television soaps

On the podcast, Brown said leaving EastEnders felt like a bereavement.

June Brown, best known for her portrayal of Dot Cotton from EastEnders, visits her old school Ipswich High School in Woolverstone back in 2007 Picture: ARCHANTJune Brown, best known for her portrayal of Dot Cotton from EastEnders, visits her old school Ipswich High School in Woolverstone back in 2007 Picture: ARCHANT

"I was feeling down a few days ago," she said. "I thought, 'What's the matter? Why do I feel so sad?' It's almost as if I've been bereaved.

"I've played two people simultaneously for 35 years. Really Dot wasn't me, but spiritually she probably was."

Award-winning Brown scooped several of them for her portrayal of Dot.

MORE: June Brown reveals all about her Ipswich upbringing in new book

They included a lifetime achievement honour at the 2005 British Soap awards and a best actress nomination at the Baftas.

June Brown scooped awards for Lifetime Achievement and Best On-Screen Partnership at the British Soap Awards in 2005 Picture: YUI MOK/PA WIREJune Brown scooped awards for Lifetime Achievement and Best On-Screen Partnership at the British Soap Awards in 2005 Picture: YUI MOK/PA WIRE

An Eastenders spokesman said: "We never discuss artists' contracts, however as far as EastEnders are concerned the door remains open for June, as it always has if the story arises and if June wishes to take part."

Brown was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Suffolk, then University Campus Suffolk, in 2011.


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