Suffolk-born TV star leaves EastEnders after 35 years
PUBLISHED: 08:48 21 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:36 21 February 2020
Veteran soap actress June Brown – who grew up in Suffolk – has left EastEnders after 35 years playing Dot Cotton.
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.
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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."
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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.
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.
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On the podcast, Brown said leaving EastEnders felt like a bereavement.
"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.
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They included a lifetime achievement honour at the 2005 British Soap awards and a best actress nomination at the Baftas.
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.