EastEnders stalwart June Brown at 90: I'm against retiring, that's what kills you

EastEnders actress June Brown said she does not want to retire because she thinks that stopping working is what “kills you”.

June, who turns 90 in mid-February, has been a fixture of the BBC soap as Dot Cotton – now Dot Branning – since the programme’s inception in 1985.

She has become a cultural icon, having won several awards during her decades-long career, as well as being awarded an MBE in 2008 for her services to drama and charity.

During an appearance on BBC Radio 4′s Desert Island Discs, June said that still being part of the programme keeps her “alive”, but she fears losing her independence as she ages.

Asked by host Kirsty Young how she keeps her energy levels up to act, June said: “I haven’t really got very much now but I find when I get on set, my energy comes.

“It’s like people can go on stage and break an ankle and they don’t notice till they come off. But as soon as I get on the stage it’s as if I have energy.

“I can be feeling like death warmed up when I come in, and then I’m alive. It keeps me alive.”

She said that work is a reason to get up in the morning, particularly for people of an advanced age.

“I think that’s why a lot of people are very lonely and get ill when they’re older, because I think loneliness and having no motivation, nothing to work towards … I think it kills you,” she told Kirsty.

June said her independence is “extremely important” to her and that she hates to “feel I am losing it”.

She said: “If people put out hands to help me out of a car I say ‘no thank you’ – I won’t accept it.

“And I get up and I don’t push myself up from the arm of a chair. I use my thighs because you have to do that. You can act yourself into age, you can act yourself into anything you want.”

The Bafta-nominated actress said she is “quite upset” about Dot losing her sight in EastEnders.

June said the character is “very quick” and that she does not want to lose herself if Dot also loses who she is due to poor health.

“I feel that Dot – she’s very quick and quick-moving and quick-speaking – and I do not want to become a dependant old woman, or otherwise my character’s gone, and I might as well not be there,” she said.

“I can run as Dot, I find myself running across the road, and I don’t want to lose my character.

“It’s like being in a wheelchair or something, and not ever getting out of it.”

June chose a selection of songs, including Cliff Richard’s Living Doll and Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters, and opted for tobacco seeds as her luxury item were she to find herself as a desert island castaway.

Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 at 11.15am.

More in this Section

Reflective Mark Hamill thanks Star Wars fans for an ‘extraordinary journey’Reflective Mark Hamill thanks Star Wars fans for an ‘extraordinary journey’

Selena Gomez announces she is bipolar in emotional talk with Miley CyrusSelena Gomez announces she is bipolar in emotional talk with Miley Cyrus

Mulan and Black Widow among major Disney films to get new release datesMulan and Black Widow among major Disney films to get new release dates

Jennifer Aniston says self-isolating has not been ‘much of a challenge’Jennifer Aniston says self-isolating has not been ‘much of a challenge’


Lifestyle

Sorting out Posh Cork for ages!Ask Audrey: 'I'll end up looking like a woman from Kanturk'

Cork architect Loïc Dehaye tells Eve Kelliher how he created his dream home from a blank canvas.'It was like this house was waiting for us': Cork architect talks creating his dream home

Keeping to a routine can be difficult for people in quarantine.Life on the inside: 10 ways to start your day right in lockdown

Who needs a gym when you can look in your kitchen cupboards for equipment instead?Don’t have weights for working out? These household objects will do the trick

More From The Irish Examiner