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character such as her smoking and her religious beliefs have been criticised, with religious groups suggesting Dot's faith is used in a pejorative mannerDorothy "Dot" Branning (also Cotton) is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera, EastEnders, played by June Brown from 1985 to 1993 and 1997 to 2020. Dot first appeared in EastEnders in July 1985 as the mother of notorious criminal Nick Cotton (John Altman). The character worked as a launderette assistant for most of that time, along with original character Pauline Fowler (Wendy Richard). Dot moved away with her son and his family in 1993. In reality, Brown left the show in 1993, unhappy with the axing of her co-star Peter Dean, who played Pete Beale from the show's first episode to early 1993. Brown returned to the role in April 1997, and on 28 April 2017, Dot overtook Pat Butcher (Pam St Clement) as the second-longest-serving character in EastEnders, surpassed only by original character Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt). In a special episode entitled EastEnders: Dot's Story (2003) a young Dot was played by Tallulah Pitt-Brown in flashbacks. In April 2012, Brown took a six-month break from the show to write her memoirs. Dot temporarily departed on 18 May 2012. She returned on 14 January 2013. In February 2015, Dot began appearing less frequently due to Brown gradually losing her eyesight; this aspect of her life was later written into her character the following year. Brown left the role in January 2020. A tragicomic character, Dot was known for her devout Christian faith, gossiping, chain smoking, hypochondria, and motherly attitude to those in need. A recurring storyline in the serial has been Dot's continuous forgiveness of her son's villainous crimes. Initially married at the start of the series to conman Charlie Cotton (Christopher Hancock), Dot married again in 2002 to pensioner Jim Branning (John Bardon) and the union proved to be popular with fans. Brown and Bardon won awards for their screen partnership. On 31 January 2008, Dot became the first character ever to appear in a monologue episode, "Pretty Baby....", of a British soap. The acclaimed episode saw Dot reminiscing about her years of loss and grief into a tape recorder as a message to her ailing husband Jim. Dot has been used to explore topical and controversial issues such as euthanasia, cancer, immigration and homophobia. Dot has been generally well received by critics: she has been referred to as a cultural archetype and Brown has won multiple awards for her portrayal. However, aspects of the character such as her smoking and her religious beliefs have been criticised, with religious groups suggesting Dot's faith is used in a pejorative manner. The character has also made an impact on popular culture; she has been spoofed, most notably by Alistair McGowan, and has been credited as inspiration for catwalk collections.