June Brown Q&A


Best known for her role as the busy-body, chain-smoking gossip Dot Cotton in the EastEnders, June Muriel Brown MBE has been a staple on British television since the late sixties.

Heading Out tells the story of Sara, a veterinarian who is given an ultimatum by her friends to tell her parents that she is gay.

Describe the character you play in Heading Out?

I play an eccentric grandmother. She speaks very loudly because her hearing isn’t particularly good, and she’s a little fond of the drink. Not only that, but she’s also unfortunately going slightly demented! It gave me freedom to be larger than life. I must say, it was great fun to do.

Was it nice playing a character that is very different from Dot Cotton?

Yes! I always like to play characters that are different to Dot. Sozzie is the complete opposite to Dot in every way.

Was it fun working on set with Sue Perkins, Joanna Scanlan, and Dawn French?

Yes I had worked with Dawn briefly before, at a charity event for television. She is a very charming person, but they all are. They were all a delight to work with.

Was it nice working on a comedy in comparison to the drama of Eastenders?

Yes, Sozzie is very upper class which was fun because I am very particular and pedantic about language in real life. As Dot I am always using double negatives such as: “I don’t want nothing.â€? I think that Dot’s grammar is appalling! So it was quite nice to speak properly for once! Well my definition of properly, rather than Dot’s.

You are one of the hardest working actresses in the business, is acting the best job in the world for you?

Absolutely! But I think in my early days I might have liked to have done something with medicine. I think I would have quite liked to have been a Doctor, but I decided not to stick with it because of the long training. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to trust myself as a Doctor. As soon as somebody questions me, I wonder if I am wrong.

I don’t have an enormous amount of confidence. We weren’t instilled with confidence as children and were told you should be seen and not heard. My sister was praised because she had a wonderful voice and played very well. I was quite clever at school, but I never felt I was as clever as they thought I was. I got a lot of O levels, and I could get the gist of things very quickly. I was quick minded. I remember working with an actor who was very slow and I thought I don’t want to listen to this rambling on!

How do you like to relax? What do you do with your spare time?

Well, if I have any! I always feel guilty because I think I should be doing something else. In general, I read. I could read all the time. When I was a child, I used to hide behind the sofa in the bay window, reading a book. My family would say: ‘Where’s June?’ And the reply would always be: “She’s reading again.â€? It was always my pleasure to read.

I don’t know whether I wanted to be in another life, maybe that was it. I read all of Dickens by the time I was ten, I read anything I could lay my hands on. There weren’t many books, so I was always at the library.

What else are you up to for the rest of this year?

I’m in Eastenders for the rest of the year. But I have got a narration- ‘Piaf the Concert’- which is a concert/recital with a big orchestra. I stopped being nervous about acting a long time ago- I thought it was a waste of time getting nervous.

Saying that, I am a bit nervy about doing this narration. It is very complicated as I have to give the right cue for the orchestra to come in. But I shall just read and re-read the narration and hopefully it will soon become second nature.

June is in Heading Out on Tuesday 26 March at 10pm, BBC Two

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