EASTENDERS are set to welcome a whole host of the show’s legends for one last send-off to Dot Cotton, played by June Brown.
In emotional scenes, characters from both Dot’s past and present will come together to honour the late Albert Square mainstay as her funeral takes place.
With Sonia (Natalie Cassidy) having received the devastating call to inform her of her grandmother’s passing, she sets about creating the most impressive send-off she can for Dot.
Among some of the legends who are back for the special episode are Colin Russell, Mary Smith, Lofty Holloway, Disa O’Brien, Barry Clark and Lauren Branning.
Ahead of their returns to the BBC soap, they discussed Dot’s legacy, remembered the iconic June Brown and how important it was for them to return.
Lord Michael Cashman (Colin Russell)
Colin is mostly remembered for being Walford’s first on-screen gay resident and featured in the UK’s first homosexual kiss in a soap opera.
He appeared in the programme in the 1980s before returning in 2016 to work specifically with June on a storyline involving his wedding.
Lord Michael admitted he said ‘yes’ as soon as he was asked to return, saying: “When I got the first message asking if I’d be interested in returning, it was an unequivocal, unqualified ‘yes’. I couldn’t imagine Colin not being at his amazing friend Dot’s funeral and I couldn’t imagine not being there for June.
“She created a television icon that will stretch beyond the test of time. I had to be there, and I was humbled that they thought of me.”
Speaking of his favourite moment of working with June, he admitted: “I have so many, but one of my favourites was after she found out Colin and Barry were gay. The scene she did with Gary Hailes must go down as an iconic scene.”
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Linda Davidson (Mary ‘The Punk’ Smith)
Mary the Punk is remembered for being Walford’s original 80s wild child and now she had returned to pay tribute to her old friend.
Linda admitted that June taught her a lot at a young age, revealing: “June always was very nurturing of young talent, particularly of me. We did a scene you might remember where Dot and Mary get down on their knees in Mary’s little bedsit, and they pray together.
“June had tutored me in that scene and said, ‘Just be still, darling, it’s the hardest thing for an actress to do, but if you can master being still, you’ll steal the scene’.”
Tom Watt (Lofty Holloway)
Lofty originally appeared in the show between 1985 and 1988 where he is remembered for a relationship with Michelle Fowler.
Recalling his memoires of being a young actor working with the great’s in the 80s, he said: “It was really good, and June was a part of that. I was also lucky to have worked closely with people like Bill Treacher (Arthur), Wendy Richard (Pauline), Leslie Graham (Den), Anita Dobson (Angie) and Gretchen Franklin (Ethel).
“With June, I looked at everything she did and went, ‘Woooah! Bloody hell!’ You had to respect and admire how she went about what she did.”
Jan Graveson (Disa O’Brien)
Jan admitted she was delighted to get the call to come back for the special scenes and to be playing Disa once again.
The actress said: “It’s something that I’ve always wished for in the back of my mind. So, when my agent called me and said that EastEnders had been on the phone, I thought. ‘Goodie! Fantastic!’
“I was so excited and absolutely thrilled. June had always hoped that I would go back. She loved our scenes and our acting together.”
Gary Hailes (Barry Clark)
Barry is remembered as the unlikely partner of his middle-aged boyfriend Colin.
He looked back fondly at his time filming with the legendary June, revealing: “June was an amazing person and a character in the truest sense of the word. There is no one like June – I’ve never met anyone even close to who she was and what she was like.
“To be asked back for this was really special, especially as I worked a lot with June because of Dot and Barry’s friendship.”
Jacqueline Jossa (Lauren Branning)
Actress Jacqueline admitted she felt it was important to return to represent the Branning side of the family that Dot had.
The star said: “June deserves the send-off she’s going to get at EastEnders, and I wanted to be a part of that and be involved.
“It was nice to be there to represent that side of the Branning family because there are family members always off gallivanting and doing different things.”