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Exclusive: June Brown (Dot Branning, 'EastEnders')

By
June Brown

© Rex Features

EastEnders legend Dot Branning comes to the forefront of the BBC soap later this month as her troubles escalate in dramatic fashion. Shocked by the news of Whitney's disappearance and still feeling lonely as she devotes her time to caring for husband Jim, things get worse for the Walford favourite when she decides that she must order her new companion Edward to stay away - fearing that their friendship could be misconstrued after Carol refers to him as her "fancy man". As the days progress, Dot continues trying to keep on top of things at home but there's a sad moment ahead as she has a nasty fall down the stairs… Here, in an exclusive Q&A, actress June Brown chats to Digital Spy about Dot's latest storyline.

It was recently revealed that you've signed up to stay on EastEnders for another year. Was that an easy decision to make, or did you have to put some thought into it?
"Well it's hardly a revelation as I re-signed last year and, while I'm at it, the figure printed was wildly inaccurate. We don't get a set salary for the year, we are paid per episode so the paper must have just pulled this figure out of the air! As for the piece saying I had clashed with bosses over Dot's controversial storylines, this is also untrue - Dot hasn't had any storylines of that nature!"

There's been a couple of quite dark scenes featuring Dot recently, showing how lonely she is as she spends her time caring for Jim. How is she feeling about her current situation?
"Dot feels helpless. Jim is her husband and she wants to be there for him, but it's a full-time job caring for someone in his condition and she still has her work at the launderette and her life to juggle, so she's finding it very difficult."

How does Dot feel about Whitney's disappearance?
"Dot feels guilty that she didn't let Whitney stay with her when she asked her. She is shocked to learn Whitney is missing."

Is she glad to have found a new friend in Edward?
"Yes, she is happy to have someone who is able to converse with her after such a long time, as Jim of course can't."

Edward tries to make up with Dot but she says that taking Jim out causes more trouble than good for him in the long run.
How does Dot feel when Carol describes Edward as her 'fancy man'?
"Dot is horrified by this comment - she is lonely and has enjoyed Edward's company but would never be unfaithful to Jim, given her Christian beliefs about marriage. She definitely worries what people think and would be horrified if their friendship would be misconstrued."

Does Edward see Dot as just a friend, or does he want more?
"Edward has a lot in common with Dot and really enjoys her company. He probably would like more, but at the same time respects her and the fact she is married to Jim."

What can you tell us about Dot's fall down the stairs and how it comes about?
"Dot is looking after Jim but also rushing to get to the launderette in time but she loses her footing and tumbles head-first down the stairs. A distressed Jim calls out from the front room, but Dot lies unconscious on the floor. She lays there until Carol and Yusef come to her rescue."

Dot continues to take care of Jim, but she is lonely.
Could this be a turning point for Dot, encouraging her to ask for help more often?
"Dot is a very proud, strong woman and of course stubborn as well. She is not one to ask for help. In fact, she has a falling out with Carol when she feels like she is being taken over by Carol after the accident. They make up and Dot accepts that she needs help but wants to retain her independence at the same time."

Now that we know Dot is staying in Walford for the foreseeable future, what do you hope we see from her in the coming months?
"Dot has storylines coming up over the next few months, but you'll have to watch to see what they are…"

Dot is such a well-loved character. From your point of view, what's made her so appealing to the viewers?
"Everybody knows a Dot! Whether it's your auntie, granny, mother or lady down the road or at the launderette."

After the many storylines that Dot has had over the years, do any stand out as particular highlights?
"So many. The two-hander and euthanasia storylines with Ethel, when Nick poisoned her, the scenes with the baby in the church, Dot's story in Wales, the scenes with Jim at the London Eye and the storyline with Dotty definitely all stand out."

Finally, after seeing various cast members come and go over the years, is there anyone who you particularly miss working with?
"I'm still in touch with so many, there are too many to mention! I'm still in touch with Barbara, we speak constantly. I'm also in regular contact with John Altman and I'm still in touch with Linda Davidson, Anna Wing, Nej Adamson, Michael Cashman, Leonard Fenton and Peter Dean. I also miss filming scenes with John Bardon, of course, but I'm still in contact with him regularly."

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