June Brown: when will EastEnders Dot Cotton tribute episode air - when was actress’ death?

The actress first appeared on the soap back in it’s very first season, in 1985

Residents of EastEnders’ Albert Square will bid their final farewell to the character of Dot Cotton in a special episode set to honour the death of actress June Brown, the BBC have said.

Brown became a cultural fixture for her long-running turn as the inimitable Dot Branning – best known as Dot Cotton, the character’s previous married name – providing Walford with one of its best-loved and most memorable figures.

She first set foot in Walford’s Albert Square as Cotton in 1985, during the soap’s 40th episode in a role that would come to define her, taking a break between 1993 and 1997.

This is what you need to know.

When did June Brown pass away?

Brown passed away earlier this year, on 3 April at the age of 95, and was best known for playing the chain-smoking hypochondriac Dot Cotton for more than 30 years on the BBC soap.

In February 2020, Brown announced that she had left the role of Cotton behind “for good” in an interview with the podcast Distinct Nostalgia.

In the last episode that she appeared in, her character had left a voicemail for Sonia Fowler saying that she had moved to Ireland.

June Brown poses backstage during the “Inside Soap Awards Party” at La Rascasse, Cafe Grand Prix, September 27, 2004 in London (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

At the time of her death, an EastEnders spokesperson said: “There are not enough words to describe how much June was loved and adored by everyone at EastEnders, her loving warmth, wit and great humour will never be forgotten.

"June created one of the most iconic characters in Dot Cotton, not just in soap but in British television, and having appeared in 2,884 episodes, June’s remarkable performances created some of EastEnders finest moments.”

A number of her EastEnders co-stars paid tribute to the actress, including Adam Woodyatt, Letita Dean, Gillian Taylforth, Emma Barton and Natalie Cassidy.

June Brown as Dot Cotton (Photo: BBC)

In 2008, Brown became the first EastEnders actress to carry an entire episode single-handed, when Cotton dictated her life story to a cassette so her husband could listen to it in hospital following a stroke.

In December 2021, she was made an OBE in the New Year Honours, as she was recognised for services to drama and to charity, and was previously made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2008, also for her services to drama and charity.

What’s going on with the EastEnders tribute episode?

The BBC have said that while Brown’s character has been residing in Ireland, as per Dot’s wishes, her funeral will be held in Walford, with her family and friends giving her the send off that she deserves.

Executive producer Chris Clenshaw said: “Everyone at EastEnders was truly heartbroken when June passed away earlier this year and, for quite a while, no-one could even think about saying goodbye to Dot; an iconic character who will go down in television history and be cherished forever.

Executive producer Chris Clenshaw said that the ‘time had come’ to say farewell (Photo: BBC)

“June was always adamant that she never wanted Dot’s time to end while she was still with us, but she also knew that EastEnders would rightly say their farewells to Dot when the time was right.

“Sadly that time has come and we are determined to give the audience, who treasured Dot for so many years, the fitting tribute that she so deeply deserves.

“So whilst it will be a very, very sad day in Walford, we will be giving Dot the send-off that she and June would want and rightly deserve.”

When will it air?

A set date for the episode has not yet been announced, however it has been confirmed that it will air in winter 2022.