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In Praise of June Brown
By Michael McCarthy
“June Brown takes it to extremes. I
love her to bits, really. But she’s
got to know what’s in her handbag.
She’s got to know where she’s come
from, why she’s there, where she’s
going, what’s she had for breakfast.”
I lifted this quote from the wonderful
interview with the EastEnders
actor John Bardon (Jim
Branning), published in the Larry
Jaffee’s Albert Square & Me: The
Actors of EastEnders, a must-read
for any fan of the programme.
Among the accolades that members
of the acting profession bestow
upon their peers, none is more
valued than that he or she is known
as an actor’s actor. And in my
opinion, no one is more deserving
of such high praise from colleagues
than June Brown a/k/a Dot Cotton.
The heart and soul of Albert
Square, her handbag and her Bible
always within reach, this gallant
lady is a paean to Christian love, a
living example of compassion.
Always available, the self-effacing
Dot drives her loved ones, Jim
and Sonia, to distraction. They
know that no one in their lives is
more in need of love than their
Dot. The scars of a hard life are
etched in every line and crevice of
her face. She meets the world with
her ever-present fag. The appropriate
scriptures are on her lips, and
the light of her faith warms Dot in
those moments of doubt, loss and
In recent weeks, Dot has been
seen recovering physically and
mentally from being assaulted by
an assailant. (Editor’s note: The
writer watches on WLIW in New
York.) Her faith has hit a crisis, and
in the dark night of the soul, she is
at a crossroads in search of the
meaning of life.
We hurt for her. We worry as
she wanders the Square at
night, in a maze of selfdoubt,
finally taking refuge
in the café. There she finds
another lost soul – Dennis.
Bedevilled by the sudden
absence of Jesus in her
life, she reaches out to
Dennis. Kindness overcomes
triumphs over despair.
Why do we care? Why
is her pain a measure of our
June Brown inhabits
Dot Cotton to such an extent
that we all see what
she sees, hear what she
hears and feel – deep in our
hearts – what she feels. We really
are a part of Dot, who embodies
generosity and faith.
The eyes of June Brown are the
windows into the soul of Dot Cotton.
May they always shine bright
and strong. Amen.