EastEnders stars including Jacqueline Jossa return to Walford for Dot Cotton's funeral

25 mins read


EastEnders veterans have turned out in force for Dot Cotton’s funeral , with a slew of former cast members seen filming the emotional scenes on Wednesday.

The huge turnout was led by Jacqueline Jossa who was seen on set for the first time as she reprised her role of Lauren Branning, following her departure in 2018, along with returning characters ‘Lofty’ Holloway (Tom Watt), Colin Russell (Lord Michael Cashman CBE), Barry Clark (Gary Hailes) , Mary ‘the punk’ Smith (Linda Davidson) and Disa O’Brien (Jan Graveson).

The actress, 29, was also joined by veteran EastEnders stars, Letitia Dean as Sharon Watts and Gillian Taylforth, who plays Kathy Beale, as much of the soap’s cast were in attendance for Dot’s final farewell.

Jac, who stars as Dot’s grand-daughter Lauren, previously said it was a ‘no-brainer’ to return to Albert Square for the legend’s send off, and she donned a long fur coat with heart-printed tights and heeled leather boots.

Jan Grievson, who played Disa O’Brien on EastEnders during the early 1990s, was also seen arriving on set for filming along with Linda Davidson, who played Mary ‘The Punk’ Smith.

Lord Michael Cashman joined Linda to film his scenes for the soap, after playing Colin Russell from 1986 to 1989, a character that sparked contention from Dot due to his homosexuality.

RIP: Dot Cotton is set to be killed off in EastEnders following the death of actress June Brown in April 2022 (pictured in character in 1997)

RIP: Dot Cotton is set to be killed off in EastEnders following the death of actress June Brown in April 2022 (pictured in character in 1997)

Blast from the past: Jacqueline played Lauren Branning on the soap from 2010 to 2018

Back again: She bid farewell to the soap four years ago (pictured in 2015)

Blast from the past: Jacqueline (left during her return to EastEnders), played Lauren Branning on the soap from 2010 to 2018 (pictured right in 2015)

Also making a return was Tom Watt, who portrayed George'Lofty' Holloway

Vintage: The actor played Lofty on the soap from 1985 to 1988

Dapper: Also making a return was Tom Watt (left), who portrayed George ‘Lofty’ Holloway from 1985 to 1988, and he cut a sombre figure as he reunited with his co-stars to film the moving scenes

Throwback! Jan Grievson was also seen arriving on set for filming

Vintage: She played Disa O'Brien on EastEnders during the early 1990s

Throwback! Jan Grievson (left), who played Disa O’Brien (right) on EastEnders during the early 1990s, was also seen arriving on set for filming

Fan favourite: Linda Davidson has also made a return to the soap for the funeral scenes

A bit different back then! She famously played Mary'The Punk' Smith on the soap

Fan favourite: Linda Davidson (left), who famously played Mary ‘The Punk’ Smith on the soap (right), has also made a brief return for the scenes, following her last guest stint in 2019

He's back again! Lord Michael Cashman joined Linda to film his scenes for the soap

80s icon: He played Colin Russell from 1986 to 1989, a character that sparked contention from Dot due to his homosexuality

He’s back again! Lord Michael Cashman (left) joined Linda to film his scenes for the soap, after playing Colin Russell (right) from 1986 to 1989, a character that sparked contention from Dot due to his homosexuality

Stars: The actors were joined by Letitia Dean (Sharon Watts) and Gillian Taylforth (Kathy Beale) as they dressed in all-black ensembles for the moving funeral scenes

Stars: The actors were joined by Letitia Dean (Sharon Watts) and Gillian Taylforth (Kathy Beale) as they dressed in all-black ensembles for the moving funeral scenes

There she goes! For the scenes the cast were seen heading into a church for Dot's funeral, followed by a lavish coffin adorned with flowers and pulled by a pair of horses

There she goes! For the scenes the cast were seen heading into a church for Dot’s funeral, followed by a lavish coffin adorned with flowers and pulled by a pair of horses

Also making a return was Tom Watt, who portrayed George ‘Lofty’ Holloway, and he cut a sombre figure as he reunited with his co-stars to film the moving scenes.

The actor, who prevously appeared on the soap in 2019, has joined five other cast members returning to the soap for Dot’s final farewell.

Despite the emotional reunion, Jacqueline was in good spirits as she chatted to her co-stars including Shona McGarty, who plays Whitney Dean, with the actress donning a black and white houndstooth coat and leather gloves for the occasion.

What she deserves! The grand turnout was a fitting tribute to the soap icon, who became known for her chain-smoking, staunchly religious views and love for gossip

What she deserves! The grand turnout was a fitting tribute to the soap icon, who became known for her chain-smoking, staunchly religious views and love for gossip

Saying farewell: Much of the soap's cast were then gathered at Dot's graveside as her coffin was lowered into the ground, a final goodbye to the legendary character

Saying farewell: Much of the soap’s cast were then gathered at Dot’s graveside as her coffin was lowered into the ground, a final goodbye to the legendary character

Not-so happy reunion! Given her history in the Square, no doubt Dot's funeral will still be packed with drama, and Jacqueline didn't look best pleased with one resident during filming

Not-so happy reunion! Given her history in the Square, no doubt Dot’s funeral will still be packed with drama, and Jacqueline didn’t look best pleased with one resident during filming

A splash of colour! Still displayed her rebellious side, Linda sported a pale blue wool scarf as she chatted to co-star Lord Cashman

Back together! The pair reunited for the first tiem in decades for the scenes

A splash of colour! Still displayed her rebellious side, Linda sported a pale blue wool scarf as she chatted to co-star Lord Cashman, after the pair reunited for the first tiem in decades for the scenes

Kind: Diane Parish, in character as Denise Fox, was also seen comforting Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker) as Dot's coffin was lowered into the ground during the funeral

Kind: Diane Parish, in character as Denise Fox, was also seen comforting Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker) as Dot’s coffin was lowered into the ground during the funeral

Diane Parish, in character as Denise Fox, was also seen comforting Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker) as Dot’s coffin was lowered into the ground during the funeral.

Other stars in attendance for the funeral were Gillian Wright (playing Jean Slater) and Natalie Cassidy (Sonia Fowler).

Milly Zero – who plays Dot’s granddaughter Dotty Cotton – and Brian Conley (Thomas ‘Rocky’ Cotton), were also seen chatting to their co-stars while filming the funeral scenes.

Stylish: In character as Kathy Beale, actress Gillian sported a wide-brimmed black hat with satin sashed detailing

Back in the cafe! She is pictured on the soap as longtime character Kathy

Stylish: In character as Kathy Beale (right on the soap), actress Gillian (left) sported a wide-brimmed black hat with satin sashed detailing

Supportive: Letitia's character Sharon was consoled by Kathy as Dot's coffin was slowly lowered into the ground

Longtime star: She is pictured in character as Sharon Watts

Supportive: She and Letitia consoled one another as the coffin was lowered into the ground, with the actress once again playing her role of Sharon Watts (right)

Keeping cosy! Gillian Wright was also spotted arriving on the set

Spitting image: She plays Jean Slater on the soap

Keeping cosy! Gillian Wright (left) was also spotted arriving on the set to play Jean Slater (right)

More sombre attire: Natalie Cassidy was also seen heading to a waiting car after filming

Soap favourite: She has played Sonia Fowler on the soap on and off since 1993

More sombre attire: Natalie Cassidy, who has played Sonia Fowler (right) on the soap on and off since 1993, was also seen heading to a waiting car after filming

Her final resting place: As the coffin was carried into the church, much of the cast were seen embracing as they reunited, clad in funeral attire, before the scenes

Her final resting place: As the coffin was carried into the church, much of the cast were seen embracing as they reunited, clad in funeral attire, before the scenes

Still glamorous! Shona McGarty donned a black and white houndstooth coat for filming

Brash: She is best known for playing Whitney Dean on the soap

Still glamorous! Shona McGarty donned a black and white houndstooth coat (left) to film scenes as Whitney Dean (right)

A break from the dancefloor? James Bye, who is currently competing on Strictly Come Dancing, was seen in character

Brooding: He was seen in character as Martin Fowler

A break from the dancefloor? James Bye (left), who is currently competing on Strictly Come Dancing, was seen in character as Martin Fowler (right)

Goodbye grandma! Milly Zero, was among those closest to the launderette owner given her character's family connection

Touching: She played Dot's granddaughter Dotty Cotton

Goodbye grandma! Milly Zero, who played Dot’s granddaughter Dotty Cotton, was among those closest to the launderette owner, despite previously attempting to con her grandmother

Letitia donned a wool coat with a fur lined collar and a veiled headband while Gillian opted for a wide brimmed hat and a polka dot silk scarf. 

Given her legendary status in Albert Square, it’s no surprise that Dot’s funeral is a fitting tribute, as her coffin adorned with flowers arrived at the church in a horse-drawn carriage.

As the coffin was carried into the church, much of the cast were seen embracing as they reunited, clad in funeral attire, before the scenes.

The grand turnout was a fitting tribute to the soap icon, who became known for her chain-smoking, staunchly religious views and love for gossip.

Silver fox: Brian Conley displayed his character's famous expression on the set

What an eyebrow! He joined the cast in 2021, under the ruse of being Sonia's father, before revealing he was actually Tony Cotton

Silver fox: Brian Conley, who joined the cast in 2021, under the ruse of being Sonia’s father, before revealing he was actually Tony Cotton (right), displayed his character’s famous expression

Helping hand: Some of Albert Square's most beloved male figures were tasked with helping to carry Dot's coffin into the church for her funeral

Helping hand: Some of Albert Square’s most beloved male figures were tasked with helping to carry Dot’s coffin into the church for her funeral

You look happy! Among the stars tasked with carrying Dot's coffin were Martin Folwer (James Bye, left)

Don't drop it! Jack Branning was also seen carrying the coffin

You look happy! Among those were Martin Fowler (played by James Bye, picture far left in both snaps) and Jack Branning (Scott Maslen, seen right)

Final resting place: Stars donned their best funeral attire for Dot's last farewell

Final resting place: Stars donned their best funeral attire for Dot’s last farewell

Classic! Decorating Dot's coffin was a heartwarming collage featuring snaps from some of her funniest moments in the Square, including her wedding to husband Jim

Classic! Decorating Dot’s coffin was a heartwarming collage featuring snaps from some of her funniest moments in the Square, including her wedding to husband Jim

Stylish: Letitia donned a wool coat with a fur lined collar and a veiled headband

Chic: Gillian opted for a wide brimmed hat and a polka dot silk scarf

Stylish: Letitia donned a wool coat with a fur lined collar and a veiled headband while Gillian opted for a wide brimmed hat and a polka dot silk scarf

Reunited! Jan was seen embracing her former co-star Gillian, after the pair appeared on EastEnders together decades earlier

Reunited! Jan was seen embracing her former co-star Gillian, after the pair appeared on EastEnders together decades earlier

Much of the soap’s cast were then gathered at Dot’s graveside as her coffin was lowered into the ground, a final goodbye to the legendary character.

Some of EastEnders most beloved male figures were tasked with carrying Dot’s coffin, including Martin Fowler (James Bye) and Jack Branning (Scott Maslen). 

It comes just hours after EastEnders bosses confirmed the full line-up of former stars returning to Walford for Dot’s funeral.

Grand return: Tom has joined five other cast members returning to the soap for Dot's final farewell

Emotional: He cut a sombre figure as he reunited with his co-stars to film the moving scenes

Grand return: Tom, who prevously appeared on the soap in 2019, has joined five other cast members returning to the soap for Dot’s final farewell 

Grand return! It comes just hours after EastEnders bosses confirmed the full line-up of former stars returning to Walford for Dot's funeral

Grand return! It comes just hours after EastEnders bosses confirmed the full line-up of former stars returning to Walford for Dot’s funeral

So many stars! The BBC soap unveiled that six actors would be reprising their roles for the special tribute episode which sees Albert Square residents say a final goodbye to the beloved launderette worker (Shona and Jacqueline are pictured)

So many stars! The BBC soap unveiled that six actors would be reprising their roles for the special tribute episode which sees Albert Square residents say a final goodbye to the beloved launderette worker (Shona and Jacqueline are pictured)

Of course! Among those returning is Jacqueline, who played Dot's granddaughter Lauren Branning and said it was a'no-brainer' to return

Of course! Among those returning is Jacqueline, who played Dot’s granddaughter Lauren Branning and said it was a ‘no-brainer’ to return

In the work: It was previously revealed that soap bosses were working on a tribute for EastEnders legend June Brown , who died in April of this year at the age of 95

In the work: It was previously revealed that soap bosses were working on a tribute for EastEnders legend June Brown , who died in April of this year at the age of 95

Developments: And now, further details of the funeral scenes have been revealed, with each of the returning characters sharing their memories of Dot throughout the years (Gillian, Letitia and Shona are pictured)

Developments: And now, further details of the funeral scenes have been revealed, with each of the returning characters sharing their memories of Dot throughout the years (Gillian, Letitia and Shona are pictured)

Throwback: While viewers will get a chance to discover what the characters have been up to since they last stepped foot in Walford

Throwback: While viewers will get a chance to discover what the characters have been up to since they last stepped foot in Walford 

Cast old and new: In an unprecedented move for EastEnders, cast members from throughout the soap's 35-year history came together (Brian Conley pictured)

Back together: They joined forces to bid farewell to one of its most iconic characters (Milly Zero is pictured)

Cast old and new: In an unprecedented move for EastEnders, cast members from throughout the soap’s 35-year history came together to bid farewell to one of its most iconic characters (Brian Conley left and Milly Zero right)

The BBC soap unveiled that six actors would be reprising their roles for the special tribute episode which sees Albert Square residents say a final goodbye to the beloved launderette worker.  

Among those returning is Jacqueline, who played Dot’s granddaughter Lauren Branning and said it was a ‘no-brainer’ to return, and Tom Watt, who portrayed ‘Lofty’.

While completing the line-up of returning actors are Colin Russell (Lord Michael Cashman CBE), Barry Clark (Gary Hailes) , Mary ‘the punk’ Smith (Linda Davidson) and Disa O’Brien (Jan Graveson).

It was previously revealed that soap bosses were working on a tribute for EastEnders legend June Brown, who died in April of this year at the age of 95.

Final appearance: The beloved character of Dot left the show in January 2020 to go to Ireland with her grandson Charlie

Final appearance: The beloved character of Dot left the show in January 2020 to go to Ireland with her grandson Charlie

Legendary: She portrayed the role of Dot for 35 years, and was part of the Branning clan after marrying character Jim Branning in 2002

Legendary: She portrayed the role of Dot for 35 years, and was part of the Branning clan after marrying character Jim Branning in 2002

So famous! Speaking on why it was important to have significant people from Dot's past return, show, Executive Producer Chris Clenshaw said:'It's an honour to invite so many of Walford's beloved characters back to pay tribute to Dot'

So famous! Speaking on why it was important to have significant people from Dot’s past return, show, Executive Producer Chris Clenshaw said: ‘It’s an honour to invite so many of Walford’s beloved characters back to pay tribute to Dot’

Important: 'Over the years, Dot impacted the lives of many young people struggling with life's biggest challenges. Her warmth, heart and compassion changed lives – so we wanted to reunite some of the people she helped the most,' he added

Important: ‘Over the years, Dot impacted the lives of many young people struggling with life’s biggest challenges. Her warmth, heart and compassion changed lives – so we wanted to reunite some of the people she helped the most,’ he added

Elated: 'I'm thrilled these talented and generous actors wanted to share this special experience with us so we can give Dot a fitting send-off,' the statement continued

Elated: ‘I’m thrilled these talented and generous actors wanted to share this special experience with us so we can give Dot a fitting send-off,’ the statement continued

And now, further details of the funeral scenes have been revealed, with each of the returning characters sharing their memories of Dot throughout the years. 

While viewers will get a chance to discover what the characters have been up to since they last stepped foot in Walford. 

The beloved character of Dot left the show in January 2020 to go to Ireland with her grandson Charlie.

She portrayed the role of Dot for 35 years, and was part of the Branning clan after marrying character Jim Branning in 2002. 

She's back! The episode sees Dot's step granddaughter Lauren return to Albert Square for the first time since leaving for a new life in New Zealand with son Louie

She’s back! The episode sees Dot’s step granddaughter Lauren return to Albert Square for the first time since leaving for a new life in New Zealand with son Louie

It's different! And while much of her former home has changed, there is once Walford resident that catches her eye

It’s different! And while much of her former home has changed, there is once Walford resident that catches her eye

'Real honour': On how she feels to come back for the emotional storyline, Jacqueline shared:'Coming back to EastEnders for Dot's funeral was a no-brainer, and it was a real honour to be invited back'

‘Real honour’: On how she feels to come back for the emotional storyline, Jacqueline shared: ‘Coming back to EastEnders for Dot’s funeral was a no-brainer, and it was a real honour to be invited back’

Well-deserved: 'I had a lot of fun but, of course, it was bittersweet. It was amazing to be back, but hard to be filming this storyline. I can tell the viewers now that Dot gets the beautiful send-off that she deserves,' Jacqueline added

Well-deserved: ‘I had a lot of fun but, of course, it was bittersweet. It was amazing to be back, but hard to be filming this storyline. I can tell the viewers now that Dot gets the beautiful send-off that she deserves,’ Jacqueline added

Speaking on why it was important to have significant people from Dot’s past return, show, Executive Producer Chris Clenshaw said in a statement: ‘It’s an honour to invite so many of Walford’s beloved characters back to pay tribute to Dot. 

‘Over the years, Dot profoundly impacted the lives of many young people struggling with life’s biggest challenges. Her warmth, heart and compassion changed lives – so we wanted to reunite some of the people she helped the most. 

‘I’m thrilled these talented and generous actors wanted to share this special experience with us so we can give Dot a fitting send-off.’

Bittersweet: Tom, who played Lofty, said:'June was amazing as Dot. She completely inhabited the character: grew with her, suffered with her and faced life's troubles with her'

Bittersweet: Tom, who played Lofty, said: ‘June was amazing as Dot. She completely inhabited the character: grew with her, suffered with her and faced life’s troubles with her’

Star-studded: The scenes are no doubt set to be packed with soap icons (Gillian pictured with left with Bobby Beale actor Clay Milner Russell)

In character: Letitia and Diane are pictured

Star-studded: The scenes are no doubt set to be packed with soap icons (Gillian pictured with left with Bobby Beale actor Clay Milner Russell, and Letitia and Diane right)

All dressed in black! All of the EastEnders cast donned their best funeral attire as they filmed the poignant moment Dot's coffin was slowly lowered into the ground

All dressed in black! All of the EastEnders cast donned their best funeral attire as they filmed the poignant moment Dot’s coffin was slowly lowered into the ground

Dressed up: Natalie donned an all-black outfit

Sombre: He was joined by co-star Rudolph

Dressed up: Both Natalie (left) and Rudolph (right) donned all-black outfits

The episode sees Dot’s step granddaughter Lauren return to Albert Square for the first time since leaving for a new life in New Zealand with son Louie.

And while much of her former home has changed, there is once Walford resident that catches her eye.

On how she feels to come back for the emotional storyline, Jacqueline shared: ‘Coming back to EastEnders for Dot’s funeral was a no-brainer, and it was a real honour to be invited back. 

‘I had a lot of fun but, of course, it was bittersweet. It was amazing to be back, but hard to be filming this storyline. I can tell the viewers now that Dot gets the beautiful send-off that she deserves.’

Best pals: Lord Cashman said:'When I was asked back I didn't even hesitate because I couldn't have imagined not being there for June, and I know Colin couldn't have imagined not being there for Dot – they had that amazing, deep friendship'

Best pals: Lord Cashman said: ‘When I was asked back I didn’t even hesitate because I couldn’t have imagined not being there for June, and I know Colin couldn’t have imagined not being there for Dot – they had that amazing, deep friendship’

One of a kind: He added:'June was unique, and there are so many incredible stories I could tell, but amongst my favourite moments of Dot was her monologue to Jim – she was a character, and actress, that will last beyond the test of time'

One of a kind: He added: ‘June was unique, and there are so many incredible stories I could tell, but amongst my favourite moments of Dot was her monologue to Jim – she was a character, and actress, that will last beyond the test of time’

Daunting: Gary Hailes shared:'Being invited back to the show after almost 30 years away was exciting, scary, strange, but overall it was really nice'

Daunting: Gary Hailes shared: ‘Being invited back to the show after almost 30 years away was exciting, scary, strange, but overall it was really nice’

She concluded: ‘June was the light and joy of EastEnders. I had so much fun working with her, the incredible stories and how infectious & witty she was. June is a legend and I miss her very much.’

Meanwhile, Lofty, who last returned in 2019 for Dr Legg’s funeral, will be back once more for a sad occasion.

He said of the late actress: ‘June was amazing as Dot. She completely inhabited the character: grew with her, suffered with her and faced life’ s troubles with her. As soon as Dot appeared on screen, you knew June had all that history lighting up every look and every line in every single scene she was a part of.’

Elsewhere, Lord Cashman said: ‘When I was asked back I didn’t even hesitate because I couldn’t have imagined not being there for June, and I know Colin couldn’t have imagined not being there for Dot – they had that amazing, deep friendship that lasted during their years, and it was exactly the same with June and me. 

'Warm': He added:'EastEnders has always been a big part of my life so to have the opportunity to come back – there were nerves – but that quickly turned into excitement, and warmth at the chance to honour Dot'

‘Warm’: He added: ‘EastEnders has always been a big part of my life so to have the opportunity to come back – there were nerves – but that quickly turned into excitement, and warmth at the chance to honour Dot’

'Unforgettable': 'June was an incredibly genuine person both on and off-screen, she really cared and was attentive to people. That's one thing I'll never forget,' Gary added

‘Unforgettable’: ‘June was an incredibly genuine person both on and off-screen, she really cared and was attentive to people. That’s one thing I’ll never forget,’ Gary added

‘June was unique, and there are so many incredible stories I could tell, but amongst my favourite moments of Dot was her monologue to Jim – she was a character, and actress, that will last beyond the test of time.’

Gary Hailes shared: ‘Being invited back to the show after almost 30 years away was exciting, scary, strange, but overall it was really nice! EastEnders has always been a big part of my life so to have the opportunity to come back – there were nerves – but that quickly turned into excitement, and warmth at the chance to honour Dot.

‘June was an incredibly genuine person both on and off-screen, she really cared and was attentive to people. That’s one thing I’ll never forget.’

Honouring her: While Jan Graveson added:'I am absolutely thrilled to be invited back to EastEnders to play Disa again and to honour the wonderful and unique character of Dot Cotton'

Honouring her: While Jan Graveson added: ‘I am absolutely thrilled to be invited back to EastEnders to play Disa again and to honour the wonderful and unique character of Dot Cotton’

While Jan Graveson added: ‘I am absolutely thrilled to be invited back to EastEnders to play Disa again and to honour the wonderful and unique character of Dot Cotton.

‘I remember only too well of Dot and Disa’s long dramatic scenes together and how they gripped the nation. Her notes, her suggestions, taught me so much. 

‘I have not, as yet, felt anything close to that energy, conviction and rapport, and probably never will. Dot – and June – was an inspiration to me, a brilliant actress to work with and a beautiful heart who became a lifelong friend.’

The beloved character of Dot left the show in January 2020 to go to Ireland with her grandson Charlie.

But after soap star June sadly passed away in April of this year at the age of 95, news of Dot’s death will soon get back to her family in Walford.

She portrayed the role of Dot for 35 years, and was part of the Branning clan after marrying character Jim Branning in 2002.

The source continued to The Sun: ‘EastEnders bosses are pulling out all the stops to show just how much June was loved by the cast and crew.

‘She was a huge part of EastEnders and her legacy will live on in Albert Square forever. She will never be forgotten.’ 

‘Without giving anything away the script is beautiful and what she would have wanted. It was an incredibly hard couple of days on set as she was so loved. But everyone was determined to give June and Dot the send off she deserved.’

Not long now! After soap star June sadly passed away in April of this year at the age of 95, news of Dot's death will soon get back to her family in Walford

Not long now! After soap star June sadly passed away in April of this year at the age of 95, news of Dot’s death will soon get back to her family in Walford

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