EastEnders: Dot Cotton makes first appearance in 1985

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EastEnders’ Lauren Branning (played by Jacqueline Jossa) will make her much anticipated comeback to Albert Square this week. The first images of Dot Cotton’s (June Brown) funeral have been released for what will surely be one of the most emotional scenes in the BBC soap’s history. Lauren has not been seen in Walford since leaving over four years ago.

After the death of her sister Abi (Lorna Fitzgerald) on Christmas Day in 2017, Lauren decided to start a new life abroad with her son Louie.

She has decided to make her return to honour the life of her beloved grandmother.

Dot’s death was confirmed on Thursday’s episode after Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy) received the dreaded phone call informing her of the news.

The news rocked the Square and the laundrette legend will have a funeral which could unite Walford, at least for one afternoon.

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In the images, Lauren can be seen returning to the Queen Vic and being consoled by Linda Carter (Kellie Bright).

A sign at the front of the pub declares that ‘all are welcome’ for the wake of the much missed character.

Understandably, she is joined by many other mourners including her Uncle Jack Branning (Scott Maslen).

All of the square’s most legendary characters of the modern day turn out to pay their respects, including Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker) and Shirley Carter (Linda Henry).

In the scenes leading up to the sad announcement, Sonia initially has her phone out of battery and is unable to take the call.

When she hears the news of her step-grandmother’s death, Sonia breaks down and clutches a photo of Dot.

Dot moved to Ireland with her grandson Charlie in 2020 for a move away from the drama of Walford.

Sonia is then tasked to organise the funeral, something which proves to be even harder than she’d have expected.

The troubled Dotty Cotton (Millie Zero) proves to be a hurdle during the emotional time, as she storms into a conversation between Sonia and Reverend Mills.

With the help of her ex-husband Martin Fowler (James Bye), Sonia tries to incorporate Dot’s faith into proceedings and agrees a date for the ceremony.

Martin and Sonia reminisce about Dot and begin to process what has happened, but Sonia still breaks down when left alone.

They go through Dot’s possessions and they agree to leave Sonia some time to sufficiently grieve.

A united Albert Square comes together, with a ceasefire almost declared on the fighting families of the soap.

The iconic episodes will also see a potential love interest for Sonia too with the introduction of Reiss, a distant relative to Dot.

Ahead of his arrival, actor Jonny Freeman told press: “I am delighted to be joining the cast of EastEnders, especially as part of the iconic Dot Branning’s extended family.

“Everybody has been so welcoming and I’m very lucky to have been working so closely with the lovely Natalie Cassidy who is not only a fantastic actress but a delightful person.”

“She has very kindly helped me navigate my first few weeks. I hope I can do Reiss justice.”

EastEnders airs Monday to Thursday 7.30pm on BBC One

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