June Brown: the genius chain-smoking queen of the East End

Written by sidhanta

June Brown, a pivotal figure in EastEnders for 35 years, achieved two significant firsts in British soap operas.

Dorothy “Dot” Cotton (later Branning), scripture-quoting chain-smoking mum of a killer, was the first BBC soap star to match the impact of the monstrous but compelling women, 

Sharples and Hilda Ogden, in ITV’s Coronation Street, which met in EastEnders its first real rating rival.

On 9 February 2020, the 35th anniversary of EastEnders’ launch, in a Sun newspaper poll on the popularity of the soap’s characters, Dot Cotton achieved 86% approval ratings

Brown’s contribution to the show – and status as one of its most accomplished performers – had already been internally recognized in Episode 3518, screened on 31 January 2008.

The script was subtitled Pretty Baby but has become known as Dot’s Monologue. It was a 29-minute soliloquy, the first and, to date, only single-character episode of a UK soap ever.

It would have been too steep a breach of soap realism for Dot to acknowledge the presence of the camera or audience.

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