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 isnât particularly good, and sheâs a little fond of the drink. Not only that, but sheâs 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: âI donât want nothing.â? I think that Dotâs grammar is appalling! So it was quite nice to speak properly for once! Well my definition of properly, rather than Dotâs.
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 wouldnât have had the confidence to trust myself as a Doctor. As soon as somebody questions me, I wonder if I am wrong.
I donât have an enormous amount of confidence. We werenât 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 donât 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: âWhereâs June?â And the reply would always be: âSheâs reading again.â? It was always my pleasure to read.
I donât 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 werenât many books, so I was always at the library.
What else are you up to for the rest of this year?
Iâm in Eastenders for the rest of the year. But I have got a narration- âPiaf the Concertâ- 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