EastEnders classic characters return to bid farewell to Dot Branning

EastEnders star June Brown dies at the age of 95

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Dot was a staple in the BBC soap from 1985 until 2020, and she became a soap icon over the years. However, to mark the death of popular actress June, EastEnders will soon run a storyline of Dot’s death, with some of Walford’s most loved and classic characters returning to bid farewell to the laundrette assistant who touched many lives.

The soap has announced Dot’s funeral is currently being filmed, and that some of the biggest Albert Square names will be reprised for the special episode.

Old friends including Colin Russell (played by Lord Michael Cashman CBE), Barry Clark (Gary Hailes) George ‘Lofty’ Holloway (Tom Watt), Mary ‘the punk’ Smith (Linda Davidson) and Disa O’Brien (Jan Graveson) will join Dot’s step-granddaughter Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa) to say goodbye.

The returning cast is currently filming scenes which will bring viewers up to date with their lives as they share their cherished memories of Dot.

The episode also serves as a chance for the actors to honour their former co-star, who died in April at the age of 95.

Executive Producer Chris Clenshaw said it was important to bring back significant people from Dot’s life to join her Walford loved ones for her final farewell.

He stated: “It’s an honour to invite so many of Walford’s beloved characters back to pay tribute to Dot.

“Over the years, Dot profoundly impacted the lives of many young people struggling with life’s biggest challenges.

“Her warmth, heart and compassion changed lives – so we wanted to reunite some of the people she helped the most.

“I’m thrilled these talented and generous actors wanted to share this special experience with us so we can give Dot a fitting send-off.”

The last time Lord Cashman returned as Colin was in 2016 for a storyline that challenged Dot’s beliefs about same-sex marriage.

He had invited Dot to his wedding, knowing that she may decline because of her religious views on gay marriage.

However, after some deep, thoughtful scenes, Dot changed her mind and made Colin’s day.

With great sadness and some life-changing news of his own, Colin returns this time to catch up with Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean), Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) and other old friends.

Lord Cashman said: “When I was asked back I didn’t even hesitate because I couldn’t have imagined not being there for June, and I know Colin couldn’t have imagined not being there for Dot – they had that amazing, deep friendship that lasted during their years, and it was exactly the same with June and me.

“June was unique, and there are so many incredible stories I could tell, but amongst my favourite moments of Dot was her monologue to Jim – she was a character, and actress, that will last beyond the test of time.”

Colin will appear alongside ex-love Barry for the first time since 1989. The couple split up in 1988, and Barry left to become a DJ on a cruise ship.

However, Gary Hailes returned the following year for a co-star’s Walford exit.

Viewers will wonder where Colin and Barry now fit into each other’s lives, so many years after their bittersweet break-up.

Gary said: “Being invited back to the show after almost 30 years away was exciting, scary, strange, but overall it was really nice! “EastEnders has always been a big part of my life so to have the opportunity to come back – there were nerves – but that quickly turned into excitement, and warmth at the chance to honour Dot.

“June was an incredibly genuine person both on and off-screen, she really cared and was attentive to people. That’s one thing I’ll never forget.”

EastEnders continues on Wednesday at 7.30pm on BBC One.

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