EASTENDERS legend June Brown has died at the age of 95.
The acting icon, best known for her role as Dot Cotton in the much-loved soap, passed away peacefully on Sunday with her family by her side.
The BBC announced the tragic death this afternoon – as EastEnders hailed her the actress behind one of the “most iconic characters.”
A spokesperson for the soap 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 2884 episodes, June’s remarkable performances created some of EastEnders finest moments.”
They added: “We send all our love and deepest sympathies to June’s family and friends.
“A very bright light has gone out at EastEnders today but we shall all be raising a sweet sherry in June’s memory.
“Rest in peace, our dearest June. You will never be forgotten.”
A statement from Brown’s family said: “We are deeply saddened to announce our beloved mother, June, passed away very peacefully at her home in Surrey on Sunday evening, with her family by her side.
“We would kindly ask that our privacy is respected at this very difficult time.”
Chain-smoking Dot, played by Brown since 1985, was recently crowned the greatest soap star of all time.
The actress’ 35-year run on the Albert Square set ended when she left the show in 2020.
In 2008, June made history by becoming the first soap character to appear alone for an entire episode.
In the episode called Pretty Baby, she spoke to a cassette recorder about her life so that her husband could listen to it as he lay in hospital following a stroke.
Brown’s role as larger-than-life Dot was known for her devout Christian faith and hypochondria, as well as her endless cigarette addiction.
The veteran actress, who had a long career in television and theatre, arrived on Albert Square shortly after the soap began in 1985.
And aside from a break between 1993 and 1997, was a regular for more than three decades.
Gillian Taylforth, who plays Kathy Beale in the soap, said: “I’m truly heartbroken by this news.
SOAP STAR DEAD
“June Brown OBE, MBE, was an amazing woman and a truly wonderful actress. I shared many scenes with her over the years and she was always someone I looked up to and learnt from.
“There will never be another June Brown and I’m sending all my love to her family.”
Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian Beale, said: “I’m lost for words, something June never was.
“So many memories, so much fun. Just purely and simply an incredible woman who had the most incredible life and career, I was fortunate to have shared a small part of it.
“They never made you a Dame (we did try), but to me you will always be Dame Brown.”
Brown served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service at the end of the Second World War – and then left to train at London’s Old Vic Theatre School in Lambeth.
Before joining EastEnders she had roles in Coronation Street, Doctor Who, Minder and The Bill, as well as costume dramas The Duchess Of Duke Street and Oliver Twist.
After joining Albert Square she also starred in comedy Ain’t Misbehavin in 1997, and played Nanny Slagg in the BBC’s production of Gormenghast in 2000.
She announced the bombshell news of her exit from EastEnders in 2020 with little fanfare, revealing her decision on a podcast with a former co-star.
Read our June Brown death blog here
Dot had not featured in the soap for a month, when she left a voicemail for Sonia Fowler saying she had moved to Ireland.
At the time an EastEnders’ spokesman said the door remained open for a comeback, appearing to leave the decision in Brown’s hands.
Some of Dot’s biggest storylines explored controversial issues such as euthanasia, cancer and homophobia.
Her marriage to Jim Branning, played by John Bardon, was popular among fans – while she was also mother to the notorious criminal Nick Cotton, played by John Altman.
Brown won several awards for her portrayal of Dot, including a lifetime achievement honour at the 2005 British Soap Awards.
In 2009, she was nominated for the best actress prize at the TV Baftas for her standalone episode of the soap.
In December 2021 Brown was made an OBE in the New Year Honours, as she was recognised for services to drama and to charity.
She was previously made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2008 for services to drama and charity.
Brown married her first husband, John Garley, in 1950.
After his death she married actor Robert Arnold in 1958 and had six children with him.