EastEnders has confirmed the full lineup of former stars returning to Walford for Dot Cotton’s funeral.
The BBC soap revealed six actors will reprise their roles for the special tribute episode, which sees Albert Square residents say their final goodbyes to their beloved laundromat worker.
Among the returnees are Jacqueline Jossa, who played Dot’s granddaughter Lauren Branning and said it was a breeze to return, and Tom Watt, who portrayed George “Lofty” Holloway.
Colin Russell (Lord Michael Cashman CBE), Barry Clark (Gary Hailes), Mary ‘the punk’ Smith (Linda Davidson) and Disa O’Brien (Jan Graveson) complete the line-up of returning actors.
It was previously revealed that soap opera bosses were working on a tribute to EastEnders legend June Brown, who died in April this year aged 95.
And now more details of the funeral scenes have been revealed, with each of the returning characters sharing their memories of Dot over the years.
While viewers have a chance to find out what the characters have been up to since they last set foot in Walford.
The beloved character of Dot left the show in January 2020 to go to Ireland with her grandson Charlie.
She played the role of Dot for 35 years and was part of the Branning clan after marrying the character Jim Branning in 2002.
“It’s an honor to invite so many of Walford’s beloved characters back to pay tribute to Dot.
“Over the years, Dot has made a lasting impact on the lives of many young people who are struggling with life’s greatest challenges. Her warmth, heart and compassion changed lives – so we wanted to bring back together some of the people she has helped the most.
“I’m thrilled that these talented and generous actors wanted to share this special experience with us so we can give Dot a fitting farewell.”
In the episode, Dot’s step-granddaughter Lauren returns to Albert Square for the first time since she left for New Zealand with son Louie on a new life.
And while much has changed at her former home, there is one Walford resident that catches her eye.
Jacqueline shared how she feels about coming back for the emotional story: “Coming back to EastEnders for Dot’s funeral was a no-brainer and it was a real honor to be invited back.
“I had a lot of fun, but of course it was bittersweet. It was great to be back, but it was hard to film this story. I can now tell viewers that Dot is getting the beautiful send-off she deserves.’
She concluded: “June was the light and joy of EastEnders. I had so much fun working with her, the incredible stories and how infectious and funny she was. June is a legend and I miss her dearly.’
Meanwhile, Lofty, who last attended the funeral of Dr. Legg had returned, to be back once more for a sad reason.
He said of the late actress: “June was incredible as Dot. She embodied the character perfectly: grew with her, suffered with her and faced the hardships of life with her. As soon as Dot came on screen, you knew June had all this history, illuminating every look and line in every single scene she was a part of.
Elsewhere, Lord Cashman said: “When I was questioned back I didn’t even hesitate because I couldn’t imagine not being there in June and I know Colin couldn’t have imagined not being there for Dot – they had that amazing, deep friendship that lasted throughout their years, and it was the same with June and I.
“June was unique and there are so many incredible stories I could tell, but one of my favorite moments from Dot was her monologue with Jim – she was a character and an actress that will stand the test of time.”
Gary Hailes shared: “To be invited back to the show after almost 30 years was exciting, scary, weird, but overall it was really nice! EastEnders has always been a big part of my life so having the opportunity to come back – there were nerves – but that quickly turned to excitement and warmth at the chance to honor Dot.
“June was an incredibly genuine person both on and off screen, she really cared about people and was thoughtful. I will never forget that.”
Whilst Jan Graveson added: “I am absolutely thrilled to be invited back to EastEnders to play Disa again and to honor the wonderful and unique character of Dot Cotton.