Christian, chain-smoker, elaborately-becoiffed, and legend of the launderette, there’s not much that happens on the Square that arch-gossip Dot Branning doesn’t know about…
She has a psalm for every occasion, and has certainly needed her faith to cope with good-for-nothing son Nick Cotton. Like the perennial bad penny, her villainous offspring resurfaces again and again, and despite herself Dot always forgives him. You see a man who’d poison his own mother to steal her bingo winnings, an ex-heroin addict and murderer, but to Dot he’s a lost member of the flock, sent for her to guide back into the fold.
The other man in her life is a different kettle of fish entirely. Jim Branning was an unlikely match for Dot, but he’s proven to be both her soulmate and her salvation. His love brought out her more tender side, especially following his stroke in 2008.
As timeless as the Queen Vic, Dot’s seen hundreds of Walford residents come and go, and good friends pass away – Ethel, Pauline. Life hasn’t been easy for Dot, but she’s still standing.
Dot's Life on the SquareEdit
Dot is introduced as the gossiping Christian friend of Ethel Skinner (Gretchen Franklin) and Lou Beale (Anna Wing) who works with Pauline Fowler (Wendy Richard) at the Walford launderette. She has a difficult life with a criminal husband, Charlie (Christopher Hancock), and their son Nick (John Altman), who is even worse. Charlie comes and goes, always treating Dot badly and stealing from her, until he dies in a lorry accident in 1991. Nick is also a criminal; he is involved in drugs, robberies, and murder and tries to cheat Dot out of her money. He attempts to poison her in 1990 to inherit her bingo winnings, but is unsuccessful. Despite Nick's deeds, Dot believes he can be redeemed. In July 1993, Nick arrives in Walford with his wife Zoe, and introduces Dot to their son Ashley. Dot becomes close to Ashley and eventually Zoe asks her to move to Gravesend with them. Dot leaves the Square, and isn’t seen again for nearly 4 years.
Dot returns to Walford on 14 April 1997, revealing that Nick has been arrested for drugs possession and Zoe and Ashley have moved away. Dot is shocked by Nick's surprise return in April 1998. He tries to steal her money again by claiming he has AIDS and needs money to travel to France where Ashley and Zoe live. Dot believes him but later discovers that he was lying and on the run from the police. She contacts the police, and he is arrested a week after his return. Dot later moves in with fellow senior citizen Lilly Mattock (Barbara Keogh), and is arrested for the illegal use of cannabis, which she confuses for herbal tea. Lilly leaves the Square after she is mugged, and Dot moves in with Pauline. Later, her best friend Ethel becomes terminally ill and begs Dot to end her life. Torn between her Christian beliefs against euthanasia and her best friend's wishes, she helps Ethel die, but later she feels that she should be jailed for murder.
In November 2000, Nick and Ashley reappear in Walford. Nick's feud with Mark Fowler (Todd Carty) causes Ashley's death in June 2001, after Nick cuts the brakes on Mark's motorbike and Ashley steals it and crashes it in Bridge Street. Dot finally disowns Nick for good soon after Ashley's funeral. She starts a relationship with neighbour Jim Branning, but when he proposed in 2001, she is overwhelmed and leaves Walford. But Jim perseveres, and when they go on the London Eye on Christmas Eve 2001, he proposes again and she accepts. Dot spends much time before the wedding worrying about the wedding night. The pair eventually decided that they will have a platonic marital relationship.
In 2004, Dot is diagnosed with cancer of the kidney and decides not to tell anyone except her friend Dennis Rickman (Nigel Harman). She refuses treatment and plans to die quietly. However, after an argument with Den Watts (Leslie Grantham), Dot confides in Jim, and decides to undergo chemotherapy after being persuaded by Dennis. This is a success, and she makes a full recovery. In May 2006, Jim receives a call from Nick, who is in a prison hospital, suffering from throat cancer. Jim tries to keep this a secret from Dot, but she finds out. She goes to visit Nick to care for him, fearing he will soon die. However, Nick makes a full recovery and Dot returns to the Square within weeks. On Christmas Day 2006, Dot's oldest remaining friend, Pauline Fowler dies. Dot discovers that Pauline's husband, Joe Macer (Ray Brooks), murdered her, and tries to call the police. A scuffle ensues, and ends with Joe losing his footing and falling from a first floor window to his death. Dot keeps Pauline's ashes for several months, until Jim refuses to "share" Dot with Pauline any more and orders her to dispose of them. Dot buries her ashes at the grave of Pauline's first husband, Arthur (Bill Treacher), bidding her friend farewell.
In April 2007, Dot finds an abandoned baby in a church. She takes the baby, Tomas, home, leaving her contact details at the church. Tomas's mother Anya (Olga Fedori) arrives in Walford, revealing she is an illegal immigrant. Jim anonymously reports her, and when she is deported, Dot hides Tomas from the authorities, vowing to take care of him. Dot and Jim struggle to look after the baby, and after talking to the local vicar and her old friend Dr. Legg (Leonard Fenton), Dot decides to hand him over to social services in June 2007. In August 2007, Jim goes to stay with his daughter, Carol (Lindsey Coulson). In October 2007, Dot learns that Jim had had a stroke and is seriously ill. She later asks Jim's friends to record messages for him, and when she records her own, decides that she could not cope with looking after Jim at home and that he will have to go into a nursing home.
Around Christmas 2008, there are numerous Good Samaritan deeds done around the Square, including paying for new decorations for the vandalised communal Christmas tree, and a large donation to the church roof fund. Heather Trott (Cheryl Fergison) discovers Dot has given large amounts of money to good causes and decided to tell the local paper. On Christmas Day, Nick returns after a seven year absence. He tells Dot he has changed, and is now a plumber, introducing her to his six-year-old daughter Dotty. Dot soon discovers, however, that Nick does not have a job and is only there for her money. With Dot refusing to give in to his demands, Nick gives her an ultimatum – the money or her granddaughter. Dot decides to give Nick the money, and in exchange, looks after Dotty. It is later revealed Dotty and Nick are planning to kill Dot for her life insurance. They convince her that she has symptoms of dementia, but their plan backfires when Dotty exposes the plot and in a rage, Nick holds various members of the community hostage, resulting in an explosion. Nick survives and after being disowned by Dot, he informs her that Dotty had masterminded the murder plot before fleeing. Dotty is retrieved by her mother in 2010 following various devious deeds, such as accusing Dot of beating her, which leads to Dot being questioned by the police for child abuse. Nevertheless, Dot is sorry to see Dotty go; she concentrates on caring for Jim following his return home, but finds being a full-time carer tiring.
Feeling lonely, she meets Grace Olubunmi (Ellen Thomas) and after some persuading, allows her to work at the launderette. She and Grace attend Edward Bishop's (Frank Barrie) choir group and Dot grows close to Edward. Dot fractures her wrist after a fall, and struggles to look after Jim. Jim goes into respite care, and Dot hires a carer, Marta Demboski (Magdalena Kurek). Dot and Edward develop a relationship, and Jim returns home. Dot feels guilty when Edward holds her hand so she asks him to leave and never come back. She sacks Marta when she thinks she stole some cash, and later returns home to find the dinner is burning in the oven and she becomes stressed by the sound of Jim's buzzer. She finds the cash she accused Marta of taking, and things become too much, so she tells Jim she cannot cope, and asks Carol why she had to "meet him so near the end". Dot then gains her young friend Fatboy (Ricky Norwood) as a lodger.
When Dot suffers the worst migraines she has ever had, she fears she is dying and decides to start a list of things to do before she dies, one of them being to make amends with her sister, Rose (Polly Perkins). She finds Rose in Southend on Sea where they bond, and Dot asks Rose to live with her as they are both lonely. Dot then allows Cora Cross (Ann Mitchell) to move in as well.
He treated Dot badly, leaving her when Nick was only two. She didn't mourn him for long after he died in a motorway crash.
Dot found her soulmate in Jim but was unable to care for him at home after he suffered a stroke.
(27 Jun 1989)Edit
Discovering that her husband Charlie was a bigamist.
(22 May 1990)Edit
Realising that her son Nick was trying to poison her.
(07 Sep 2000)Edit
Helping her friend Ethel to die in a euthanasia pact.
(07 Dec 2000)Edit
Going to prison for shoplifting.
(14 Jun 2001)Edit
The death of her grandson Ashley.
(28 Jun 2001)Edit
Being hospitalised for a breakdown.
(08 Nov 2001)Edit
Jim proposing for the first time.
(21 Dec 2001)Edit
Accepting Jim's second proposal on the London Eye.
(14 Feb 2002)Edit
Marrying Jim on Valentine’s Day.
Being robbed and beaten by a bogus charity collector.
(12 Aug 2004)Edit
Being diagnosed with kidney cancer but recovering after chemotherapy.
(25 Dec 2006)Edit
Finding Pauline lying dead in the snow in the Square Gardens.
(09 Apr 2007)Edit
Finding baby Tomas abandoned in a church and taking him in.
(08 Jun 2007)Edit
Handing Tomas over to Social Services after seeking Dr Legg's advice.
(25 Oct 2007)Edit
Learning that Jim had suffered a stroke.
(31 Jan 2008)Edit
Recording a message for Jim, explaining that she wasn't able to care for him at home.
(09 Jan 2009)Edit
Paying Nick so that he would leave her granddaughter Dotty in her care.
(18 Aug 2009)Edit
Handcuffing herself to a shelf in demonstration of Mr Papadopolous hinting that she should retire from the launderette.
(09 Feb 2010)Edit
Smacking Dotty after being told that Dotty wished Nick had killed her.
(11 Feb 2010)Edit
Celebrating her 8th wedding anniversary with Jim.
(12 Feb 2010)Edit
Being arrested for smacking Dotty but released without charge.
(22 Feb 2010)Edit
Putting Dotty in touch with her long-lost mother Sandy.
(08 March 2010)Edit
Being told by Ian that Lucy is pregnant.
(30 April 2010)Edit
Revealing to Peggy and Pat that Harvey is cheating on them both.
(25 March 2011)Edit
Breaks down after inadvertently discovering that Whitney is missing.
(31 March 2011)Edit
Falls down the stairs and breaks her arm whilst rushing around looking after Jim.
(03 May 2011)Edit
Agrees to have a carer but is determined to choose one herself.
(24 May 2011)Edit
Informing Jim she can't continue caring for him.
About June BrownEdit
June directed Double D at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden, the Edinburgh Festival and Kings Head Theatre in Islington.
June is president of the Michael Elliot Trust, which runs a donkey sanctuary in Derbyshire called Freshfields. It partners children with special needs with donkeys.
Although June now wears a wig to play Dot, originally it was her own hair re-styled.
Lesley Grantham (Den Watts) recommended June for the role of Dot Cotton.
Star sign: Aquarius
Eye colour: Hazel
First appearance: 04.07.1985
Before finding fame as Dot Cotton, June's long career in TV included appearances in Coronation Street, Doctor Who, Angels, Churchill's People and The Duchess of Duke Street.
June appeared alongside ex-EastEnder Leslie Schofield (Brian Wicks & Jeff Healy) in the BBC's 1985 production of Oliver Twist.
June played Gladys in the ITV drama, Margery and Gladys. She starred alongside Penelope Keith who played Margery.
In 2000, during a break from EastEnders, June starred as Nanny Slagg in the BBC's drama Gormenghast
Her many theatre credits include The Lion In Winter, An Inspector Calls, Nightshade and Calendar Girls.
On the big screen, she's appeared in Bean: The Movie, Straw Dogs, Nijinski and Sunday Bloody Sunday, among others.