BBC soap EastEnders will be saying goodbye to iconic Dot Branning following the sad loss of June Brown earlier this year.


In the coming weeks, the EastEnders cast will gather together to pay tribute to the iconic character's life in Walford after her death at the beginning of the month.

According to the BBC soap, word spreads beyond Walford and reaches her old friends, Colin Russell (Lord Michael Cashman), Mary The Punk (Linda Davidson), Lofty Holloway (Tom Watt), Disa O'Brien (Jan Graveson) and Barry Clark (Gary Hailes) who all go out of their way for Dot.

And over in New Zealand, Dot's step-granddaughter Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa) hops on a plane to represent Jim's side of the family.

But back in Albert Square, Dot's step-granddaughter Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy) struggles with her immense grief and pressure to do Dot proud.

Needing support, Sonia turns to ex-husband Martin Fowler (James Bye) and Reverend Eileen Mills (Melanie Kilburn) for guidance on giving Dot the Christian send-off she would want.

Dot Branning's funeral in EastEnders
Dot Branning's funeral in EastEnders BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

However, as the day Sonia was dreading approaches, she realises she hasn't written the eulogy and she starts to panic.

Teasing what's to come, EastEnders added: "Along the way, there are some big surprises, fond memories, and a newcomer with a connection to Dot who could change one Walford lady’s life."

That newcomer, of course, is Dot's great-nephew Reiss Colwell, played by Silent Witness actor Jonny Freeman who will also be a love interest for Sonia.

Speaking about returning for the episodes, Lord Michael Cashman has revealed why he had to return as Colin Russell, last seen visiting Dot in 2016.

Lord Michael Cashman as Colin Russell, Letitia Dean as Sharon Watts, and James Farrar as Zack Hudson in EastEnders
Colin Russell (Lord Michael Cashman, right) with Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) and Zack Hudson (James Farrar) BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

"When I got the first message asking if I’d be interested in returning, it was an unequivocal, unqualified 'yes'", revealed Lord Cashman. "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."

Another classic character who returns is Mary "The Punk" Smith who was last seen returning alongside fellow returnee Lofty Holloway (Tom Watt) for the funeral of Dr Harold Legg in 2019.

Mary's actress Linda Davidson said of her return: "The word honour is very right because I did feel honoured. I felt really humbled by the reverence she was afforded for those two episodes, and quite rightly so.

"When Dr Legg’s funeral happened, none of the curtains on the Square were drawn, and June thought it wasn’t very respectful, so it was very pleasing to see that all the curtains were drawn as a mark of respect for her. She cared a lot about things like that, and she’ll be very pleased that it did happen for Dot’s funeral."

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Jacqueline Jossa as Lauren Branning hugging Sonia Fowler in EastEnders
Jacqueline Jossa as Lauren Branning hugging Sonia Fowler in EastEnders BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

Meanwhile, speaking about where we find Lauren Branning now, actress Jacqueline Jossa revealed: "She’s still the same old Lauren, but maybe grown up a little bit! I think she’ll be able to provide some updates about other members of the Branning family!

"Hopefully, Lauren coming home is something positive and light. Obviously, Lauren is upset to lose Grandma Dot, but it’s a bittersweet feeling to be back."

Lauren is seen in the first look images tearfully hugging her cousin Sonia after travelling from New Zealand where she lives with her son Louis Beale, who was fathered by Peter Beale.

Of course, there will be many of the Square's current characters attending too, including long-running favourites Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean), Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth), Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner), Denise Fox (Diane Parish), Jack Branning (Scott Maslen), and more.

Lord Michael Cashman as Colin Russell, Letitia Dean as Sharon Watts, James Farrar as Zack Hudson, Frankie Day as Ricky Mitchell and Diane Parish as Denise Fox in EastEnders
Lord Michael Cashman as Colin Russell, Letitia Dean as Sharon Watts, James Farrar as Zack Hudson, Frankie Day as Ricky Mitchell and Diane Parish as Denise Fox in EastEnders BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

Speaking about the funeral episodes, actor Tom Watt who plays returnee Lofty Holloway revealed: "I think it’s pitched perfectly. There is some really good writing and really good acting. There was also a feeling of respect about the whole thing, which was great."

Finally, returnee Gary Hailes who played Colin's on-screen boyfriend and barrow boy Barry Clark, said: "June was the ultimate professional, and she wanted you to know your lines, preferably in the right order. She wanted everyone to succeed, but she would call out anyone who lacked commitment or professionalism

"She used to say, ‘We are lucky that we do what we do, so let’s do it the best'. Her legacy is to show what brilliant work and commitment can achieve. Walk through the door, commit yourself to what you are doing, and walk out with your head high."

Dot Branning's hearse sets off in EastEnders
Dot Branning's hearse sets off in EastEnders BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

One thing is for certain, there likely won't be a dry eye in the house when the emotional scenes air.

EastEnders airs Dot's funeral episodes on the week commencing Monday 12th December 2022 on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

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