june brown
June Brown turns 90 BBC

Soap icon June Brown turns 90 today (16 February) and the BBC is celebrating her long-running television career with a one-off programme about her life and times called The Walford Legend.

Brown – who is famed for playing Dot Cotton on the BBC1 soap – made her EastEnders debut in 1985 and in 2005 won Best Actress at the British Soap Awards as well as receiving the Lifetime Achievement award at the same ceremony.

Tonight's offering will see her look back on her life and career in a special package to mark her milestone birthday. She will touch on the reasons she believes she was cast as Dot Cotton, as well as how a fellow cast member saw her as a rival. Could it be Wendy Richard?

It also shows the eccentricity of her real-life persona, as one flashback interview from 1986 sees John Pitman asking whether she was worried about what might appear in the press about "liaisons from the past". She nonchalantly replied: "Oh no. Not really. Well, most of them are dead."

The documentary will no doubt provide viewers with a few chuckles as it celebrates Brown's accomplished life, which saw her receive an MBE in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours.

Brown was born in Suffolk in 1927, one of five children and has had an eventful life besides her acting career. At 23, she met and married the actor John Garley until he took his own life in 1957 due to depression. She went on to marry Robert Arnold in 1958 – who was a regular in the BBC television programme Dixon of Dock Green.

She had six children with Arnold and was with him for 45 years until he died in 2003 of Lewy body dementia. Since then she has lived by herself in their house in Surrey.

Despite her eyesight failing due to macular degeneration, Brown revealed in 2015 that she cannot afford to retire, adding that she has prayed for her eyesight to return. In 2016, a storyline for Dot where her eyesight was deteriorating was introduced, proving how much she was valued by the soap's bosses and writers. It was also reported in January 2016 that Brown had signed a £300,000 contract to stay on EastEnders until she turned 90 in 2017.

Tonight's documentary is also set to include celebrity interviews from her famous cast mates including Danny Dyer, Adam Woodyatt, Gillian Taylforth, Rudolph Walker, Lacey Turner and Natalie Cassidy.

June Brown at 90: A Walford Legend airs at 8.30pm on BBC1 tonight.

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Phillip Broadley and June Brown rehearse a scene from the play 'My Name is Wilde' at the New Torch Theatre, 10th April 1952 Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images