June Brown dead: Why BBC icon quit EastEnders after 35 years

EastEnders star June Brown dies at the age of 95

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June, who played EastEnders favourite Dot Cotton from 1985 to 2020, sadly died on Monday at the age of 95. She is known for being one of soap’s finest and longest-serving actors, but why did she quit the soap in 2020? Express.co.uk has explored the reasons behind June’s exit and why the stalwart character Dot said goodbye to Walford.

June revealed in 2020 she’d be leaving the soap “for good” after fans noticed she’d been absent from the programme.

Dot’s final message in the soap came in the form of a voicemail to Sonia Fowler (played by Natalie Cassidy), where she informed her she had moved to Ireland.

Tragically, this would become the character’s final words on the show she was such a huge part of.

At the time, the actress explained she had been “disappointed” by recent storylines.

She said: “I don’t want a retainer. I’ve left. I’ve left for good. I’ve sent myself to Ireland and that’s where she’ll stay. I’ve left EastEnders.”

In a podcast interview with co-star Rani Singh, Brown went on to say she felt “bereaved” after leaving the show, which she joined when it first aired in 1985.

She continued: “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.”

God-fearing Dot was a popular resident in Walford both with fellow characters and viewers.

Although she always tried to do the right thing, she suffered greatly at the hands of her trouble-maker son, Nick Cotton (John Altman).

Nick attempted to kill his mother on many occasions, and although he was often in and out of Albert Square for long periods, actor John was extremely close with June.

Following her exit, he reflected: “I spoke to her obviously [and] I don’t want to quote her but I think generally, bless her heart, she’s 93 number one, so she does get very tired these days.

“Number two, I don’t think she was getting the best of storylines.”

Speaking to The Sun in April 2020, he continued: “She’s very much a die-hard professional in the business and she wasn’t getting quite what she was… she wasn’t very impressed by some of the writing she was getting.”

He went on to suggest June wasn’t pleased by her on-screen granddaughter Dotty Cotton’s (Milly Zero) recasting.

“It was a great shame that Molly Conlin wasn’t brought back as Dotty as well,” he added.

“I don’t think she was very happy about that. And nor was I, actually, I didn’t understand why, when they had the original actress who’d grown up, they hadn’t brought her back, but that’s up to the BBC.

“I think all those things [I’ve] mentioned – tired, not delighted with the storylines and a different Dotty.

“She just wasn’t happy anymore so she had to decide to leave, which is a shame.”

Dot has been away from the soap for two years, but her character is still often mentioned by family members the soap who are “in touch” with Dot.

EastEnders continues on Monday at 7.30pm on BBC One.

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