EastEnders star June Brown, 93, is told to ‘carry on smoking by doctors as the shock of quitting could make her collapse’
EastEnders star June Brown has been told to ‘carry on smoking’ by doctors or the shock of quitting could cause her to collapse.
The actress, 93, has spent the past 70 years puffing about 20 cigarettes a day, according to her on-screen son John Altman.
Now June – who played Dot Cotton on the BBC soap for 35 years – is back on half a pack a day on the advice of her doctors after trying and failing to quit last year.
Health worries: EastEnders’ June Brown has been told to ‘carry on smoking’ by doctors or the shock of quitting could cause her to collapse (pictured in 2019)
John, 68 – who starred alongside June as ‘Nasty Nick’ Cotton – told The Sun: ‘She is still smoking, unfortunately, but the doctors have told her not to stop now. She loves her ciggies. She smokes at least ten a day.’
The actor regularly visits June at her home in Surrey and says that they are still ‘good friends.
June tried to cut down on the amount she smoked last year by trying out e-cigarettes but reportedly said at the time they were too heavy for her to hold.
Concerns: The actress, 93, has spent the past 70 years puffing about 20 cigarettes a day, according to her on-screen son John Altman (pictured together)
June quit EastEnders in February and admitted that she would ‘never’ return to the soaps, saying she was dissatisfied with some of her recent storylines.
She also worried about not being able to read her script after suffering with macular degeneration, an age-related condition, which causes blurriness or blindness in the centre of the visual field
Speaking about her condition John added: ‘Her eyesight’s not brilliant but apart from that she is full of beans. She gets the Kindle and her glasses, so she can still read.
‘I get round there when I can. We’re still good friends.’
Icon: The character, known for her chain-smoking, has been a staple of the show ever since and is one of its most beloved characters (pictured in 1991)
Speaking on the Distinct Nostalgia podcast about leaving the soap in February June said: ‘It’s almost as if I’ve been bereaved. I don’t want a retainer for EastEnders, I’ve left. I’ve left for good.
‘I’ve sent her off to Ireland where she’ll stay. I’ve left EastEnders. I did make up a limerick. It’s a bit dirty.
June then recited the limerick: ‘I went back to do a good story. Alas and alack, when I got back it had gone up in smoke. I got a small part, a very small part. And that ended up as a big wet fart. Alas and alack, I will never go back.’
June spoke to actress Rani Singh, who played Sufia Karim on the soap from 1988 to 1990 about her decision to quit, saying she had no interest in a retainer contract.
Bowing out: June quit EastEnders in February and admitted that she would ‘never’ return to the soaps, saying she was dissatisfied with some of her recent storylines
Although she has been firm in her decision not to return to Walford, June mourned leaving the show, likening it to a bereavement.
She said: ‘I was feeling down a few days ago. I thought, ‘What’s the matter? Why do I feel so sad?’ It’s almost as if I’ve been bereaved.’
‘I’ve played two people simultaneously for 35 years. Really Dot wasn’t me, but spiritually she probably was.’
A spokesperson for EastEnders told MailOnline: ‘We never discuss artists’ contracts, however as far as EastEnders are concerned the door remains open for June, as it always has if the story arises and if June wishes to take part.’
Debut: Dot made her first appearance on Albert Square in July 1985 as the mother of notorious criminal Nick Cotton (John Altman)
Dot Cotton’s Biggest Storylines
History: Dot has been involved in a number of dramatic storylines throughout her years in Walford
Dot’s debut – 1985: Dot Cotton made her debut in EastEnders in July of that year as the mother of notorious criminal Nick Cotton and the best friend of Ethel Skinner. Despite Nick stealing from his mother and attempting to poison her, Dot believes he can be redeemed.
Dot temporarily leaves Albert Square – 1993: Nick’s girlfriend Zoe Newton arrives in Walford and introduces Dot to their nine-year-old son, Ashley Cotton. Dot becomes close with her grandson and Zoe asks her to move to Gravesend with them.
Nick is thrown behind bars when Dot returns – 1997: Dot moves back to the square after Nigel Bates tracks her down. Nick has been arrested for drug possession and she is shocked when he returns unexpectedly. He begins stealing from her again and falsely claims to have AIDS. Dot discovers the lie and reports him to the police.
Dot helps her friend Ethel to die – 2000: Ethel begs Dot to help end her life after she comes terminally ill. Torn between her deeply held Christian beliefs against euthanasia and her friend’s wishes, Dot ultimately helps Ethel to die with pills, but later thinks she should be jailed for murder. Feeling she should be punished, Dot ends up in court for shoplifting. She is jailed for 14 days for contempt of court following an outburst in the courtroom.
Dot ties the knot for a second time – 2002: Dot starts a relationship with neighbour Jim Branning. When he proposes, she is overwhelmed and leaves Walford. Jim perseveres and proposes to Dot a second time when they visit the London Eye on Christmas Eve. They decide to have a platonic marital relationship.
Dot appears in EastEnders’ first ever single-handed episode – 2008: In an emotional episode, Dot recorded a message for her husband Jim after he suffered a stroke. The episode featured only her character and June was praised by viewers for her emotional performance.
Dot watches on as Nick dies – 2015: After years of forgiving him for his crimes, Dot accepts Nick’s inability to change. After he asks her to buy him heroin, she agrees and gives it to him. Nick confesses he murdered Reg Cox as he lays dying and Dot decides not to call an ambulance to save him.
Sonia steals from Dot – 2019: Sonia resorts to stealing from her step-grandmother after a blackmail threat from Martin’s hit-and-run victim. She covers her tracks by claiming hackers are to blame after trying to steal thousands from Dot’s bank account.