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June Brown

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June Brown

June Brown (2009).jpg
Brown in April 2009
June Muriel Brown

(1927-02-16) 16 February 1927 (age 94)
  • Actress
  • author
Years active1952–2020
Known forRole of Dot Cotton in EastEnders (1985–1993, 1997–2020)
John Garley
(m. 1950; died 1957)

Robert Arnold
(m. 1958; died 2003)
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service1944–1945
UnitWomen's Royal Naval Service
Battles/warsSecond World War

June Muriel Brown, MBE (born 16 February 1927) is an English actress and author. She is best known for her role as Dot Cotton on the BBC soap opera EastEnders (1985–1993; 1997–2020). In 2005, she won Best Actress at the Inside Soap Awards and received the Lifetime Achievement award at the British Soap Awards. Brown was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours for services to drama and to charity.[1] In 2009, she was nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress, making her the second performer to receive a BAFTA nomination for their work in a soap opera, after Jean Alexander. It was announced in February 2020 that Brown had decided to leave EastEnders permanently, at the age of 93.[2]

Early life[edit]

Brown was born on 16 February 1927 in Needham Market, Suffolk,[3] the daughter of Louisa Ann (née Butler) and Henry William Melton Brown.[4] She was one of five children, although her younger brother John Peter died of pneumonia in 1932 at 15 days old, and her elder sister Marise died in 1934 aged eight from a meningitis-like illness. She is of Algerian (Sephardic Jewish), Dutch, Irish, Italian, and Scottish descent.[5][6] On her maternal grandmother's side, she is descended from noted Jewish bare-knuckle boxer Isaac Bitton.[7]

Brown was educated at St John's Church of England School in Ipswich and then won a scholarship to Ipswich High School, where she passed the school certificate examinations.[8] During the Second World War, she was evacuated to the Welsh village of Pontyates in Carmarthenshire. During the later years of the war, she served in the Wrens and was classically trained at the Old Vic Theatre School in London's Lambeth area.[9]


Film and television[edit]

Brown has had a long television career, with small roles in Coronation Street as Mrs Parsons (1970–71); the Play for Today, Edna, the Inebriate Woman as Clara (1971); the Doctor Who story The Time Warrior as Lady Eleanor (1973–74); the medical soap Angels; the history-of-Britain Churchill's People; long-running comedy drama Minder; the police drama soap The Bill; and cult sci-fi series Survivors. She had a bigger part as Mrs Leyton in the costume drama The Duchess of Duke Street (1976), and played Mrs Mann in Oliver Twist (1985).

She has also starred in the wartime big band comedy Ain't Misbehavin (1997), and played Nanny Slagg in the BBC's big-budget production of Gormenghast in 2000. She had a number of small roles in several movies, appearing as the grieving mother of an undead biker in British horror flick Psychomania (1971), as well as Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), Sitting Target (1972), The 14 (1973), Murder by Decree (1979), Nijinsky (1980), The Mambo Kings (1992) and the Mr. Bean movie spin-off Bean (1997). She also appeared as Tom Hedden's wife in Straw Dogs (1971), although her scenes were cut from the film. In 1984, she featured in the TV mini-series Lace which starred actress Phoebe Cates.

In 2006, Brown appeared as Aunt Spiker at the Children's Party At The Palace, an all-star event to celebrate the Queen's 80th birthday. In 2010, Brown took part in the annual Christmas special of Strictly Come Dancing. Brown said "I'm terrified and apprehensive about what I've let myself in for, I must be barmy and I'm not sure what's come over me... I just hope I can remember the steps to the routines. I'm looking forward to working with the professional dancers and the other contestants."[10] Her dancing partner was Vincent Simone, with whom she danced the tango.

In July 2012, Brown hosted a documentary for the BBC called Respect Your Elders, which looked at society's treatment and attitudes towards the elderly.[11]


Brown has also been active in British theatre. She directed Pin Money by Malcolm Needs in London, and Double D by Matthew Westwood in Edinburgh and London. She played Mrs Danvers in a touring production of Rebecca. Other plays include An Inspector Calls, The Lion in Winter, A View from the Bridge, and numerous pantomimes. During her early career, she played the roles of Hedda Gabler and Lady Macbeth. In 2009, Brown played Jessie in the West End production of Calendar Girls at the Noël Coward Theatre. Also in the play were former EastEnders stars Anita Dobson (Angie Watts), Jill Halfpenny (Kate Mitchell) and Jack Ryder (Jamie Mitchell).


Brown was recommended to producers for the role of Dot Cotton in EastEnders by one of its original cast members, Leslie Grantham, who played Den Watts. Brown played the role from 1985 to 2020, with a break between 1993 and 1997.

On 31 January 2008, Brown became the first and, as of 2020, only soap actor to carry an entire episode single-handed. The episode, titled "Pretty Baby....", featured a monologue looking back over her character's life, dictated to a cassette machine for her husband Jim to listen to in hospital following a stroke. The fact that co-star and close friend John Bardon (who played Jim) was recovering from a stroke in real life added extra pathos to the episode.[12] In 2009, Brown was nominated for the British Academy Television Award for Best Actress.[13] Brown's nomination came as a result of her "single-hander" episode of EastEnders, the director of which she praised.[14]

On 30 April 2012, it was announced that Brown would take a six-month break from EastEnders and planned to write her autobiography during her time off.[15] In October 2012, it was announced she had returned to filming, and she appeared on screen again from January 2013.[16]

In May 2015, Brown revealed that her eyesight is failing due to macular degeneration.[17] Later, in 2016, a storyline for Dot where her eyesight was deteriorating was introduced. Speaking about the condition in April 2019, Brown said that it had worsened since undergoing surgery in 2017, and that she does not go out socially because of her eyesight: "I never go to soap awards or suchlike now. I don't recognise people that I know and they would think I was snubbing them."[18]

On 20 February 2020, Brown announced she had left EastEnders.[2][19]

Personal life[edit]

At the age of 23, Brown met and married actor John Garley; he suffered from depression and took his own life in 1957. In 1958, she married actor Robert Arnold.[20] They had six children in seven years, one of whom died in infancy.[21] The couple were together for 45 years, until he died in 2003 of Lewy-body dementia. Since then, she has lived alone in Surrey.[22]

Brown is a supporter of the Conservative Party and told The Guardian in 2009, "I wouldn't vote Labour, dear, if you paid me. I vote Conservative."[23] Like her EastEnders character, she is a Christian.[24]

Brown was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours for services to Drama and to Charity.[25]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Year Result Award Category Film or series Character
1999 Nominated The National Television Awards Most Popular Actress EastEnders Dot Cotton
2000 Nominated
Nominated The British Soap Awards Best Actress
Nominated Best Single Episode – Ethell's Emotional Death
Nominated Best On Screen Partnership – shared with Gretchen Franklin
Won TV Quick and TV Choice Awards Best Actress
2001 Nominated The National Television Awards Most Popular Actress
Nominated The British Soap Awards Best Actress
Nominated Best Dramatic Performance
Nominated Hero of the Year
Nominated Best Storyline – Dot's Schizophrenia Plot
Won Inside Soap Awards Best Actress
Won Best Storyline – Dot's Schizophrenia Plot
Nominated TV Quick and TV Choice Awards Best Actress
2002 Nominated The National Television Awards Most Popular Actress
Nominated The British Soap Awards Best Actress
Won Best On Screen Partnership – shared with John Bardon
2004 Nominated Best Actress
2005 Nominated The National Television Awards Most Popular Actress
Nominated The British Soap Awards Best Actress
Won Best On Screen Partnership – shared with John Bardon
Won Lifetime Achievement Award
Won Inside Soap Awards Best Actress
Won Best Couple – shared with John Bardon
Nominated TV Quick and TV Choice Awards Best Actress
Nominated Best Soap Storyline – Dot's Cancer
2007 Nominated The National Television Awards Most Popular Actress
2008 Nominated TRIC Awards Best TV Personality
2009 Nominated The National Television Awards Serial Drama Performance
Nominated BAFTA Television Awards Actress in a Leading Role






  • Double D (play)


  • Before the Year Dot (2013)[31]


  1. ^ TV, What's on (4 November 2008). "EastEnders' June Brown honoured with MBE | News | EastEnders". What's on TV. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Dot Cotton: Actress June Brown says she has left EastEnders 'for good'". BBC News. 21 February 2020. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  3. ^ "BBC News – Profile: June Brown". BBC Online. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  4. ^ "June Brown – Family History – Genes Reunited Blog – Genes Reunited". Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Who Do You Think You Are: June Brown".
  6. ^ "June Brown: 'I'm like a mongrel!'". What's on TV. August 2011.
  7. ^ Rajan, Amol (11 August 2011). "Last Night's TV: Who Do You Think You Are?/BBC1 Village SOS/BBC1". The Independent. London.
  8. ^ June Brown Interview in The Independent. Retrieved 3 January 2013
  9. ^ "Since year Dot: EastEnders' June Brown's best moments". Daily Telegraph. 29 February 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  10. ^ "BBC – Press Office – BBC announces Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special". BBC Online. BBC Press Office. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
  11. ^ "BBC One – June Brown: Respect Your Elders". 31 August 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  12. ^ Moreton, Cole (27 January 2008). "June Brown: All alone in Dot's kitchen". The Independent. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  13. ^ "Television Awards Nominations 2009". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Archived from the original on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2009.
  14. ^ Fletcher, Alex (24 March 2009). "Santer hails 'remarkable' June Brown". Digital Spy. Retrieved 24 March 2009.
  15. ^ "'EastEnders' June Brown taking six-month break". Digital Spy. 30 April 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  16. ^ "'EastEnders': Dot Branning makes return in January – EastEnders News – Soaps". Digital Spy. 20 October 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  17. ^ White, Stephen (17 May 2015). "EastEnders legend June Brown is losing her sight but still has to work due to financial crisis". The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  18. ^ "EastEnders' June Brown losing her sight". BBC News. 6 April 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  19. ^ Badshah, Nadeem (21 February 2020). "June Brown says she's played EastEnders' Dot Cotton for last time". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  20. ^ "Robert Arnold". IMDb.
  21. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – Desert Island Discs, June Brown". BBC iPlayer. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  22. ^ Cole Moreton (27 January 2008). "June Brown: All alone in Dot's kitchen". The Independent.
  23. ^ Aitkenhead, Decca (20 April 2009). "Decca Aitkenhead meets June Brown, EastEnders' Dot Cotton". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  24. ^ PM, Cath Martin 23 June 2014 | 1:47. "Eastenders star June Brown says she made the character 'Dot' more Christian".
  25. ^ "BBC News – Des and Dot lead showbiz honours". BBC Online. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  26. ^ "Troma's LGBT horror musical Spidarlings to premiere in July". 14 June 2017.
  27. ^ "The Rough and Ready Lot", Radio Times, London (1871), p. 19, 18 September 1959, retrieved 6 April 2016
  28. ^ "June Brown". British Film Institute. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  29. ^ "June Brown at 90 – a Walford Legend". 30 January 2017.
  30. ^ Owen, Alun (1960). The Rough and Ready Lot: A play in Three Acts. Cover design by Elisabeth Frink (First ed.). London: Encore Publishing Co. Ltd. p. 4.
  31. ^ Before the Year Dot. 24 October 2013. ISBN 978-1-4711-0182-3.

External links[edit]