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21 February 2020, 09:34
EastEnders legend June Brown has said that she has left her role of Dot Cotton after 35 years.
"I've left for good," the 93-year-old actress said in an interview with podcast Distinct Nostalgia.
Brown is one of the BBC soap's longest-running characters, having joined in 1985, the year it was created.
Dot has not been seen in the soap since January, but an EastEnders spokesman said the "door remains open" for her character to return.
Her last episode saw Dot leave a voicemail message for Sonia Fowler, saying she had moved to Ireland.
When asked by former co-star Rani Singh whether EastEnders had put her on a retainer, Brown said: "I don't want a retainer. I've left. I've left for good.
"I've sent myself to Ireland and that's where she'll stay. I've left EastEnders."
"I think I got it because they thought I was a punctual actress," Brown told the podcast about when she first got the part.
"I'm not really but I became so. In fact I became so punctual I used to be in an hour before I should be."
She added that it "was a very strange feeling" to be leaving the soap. "I was feeling rather down the other day," she said. "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."
In 2008, June Brown became the first actor in a British soap to appear in an entire episode on their own, when she gave a powerful monologue to a cassette for her screen husband to listen to in hospital after a stroke.
Later that year, she was made an MBE for services to drama and charity.
In 2019, Brown revealed she had been losing her sight after being diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, and could no longer recognise some of her friends.