June Brown (Susan, Manhunt) dies aged 95

June Brown as Susan in Manhunt, the opening episode of the third and final series of Survivors

JUNE BROWN, WHO appeared in the opening episode of the third and final series of Survivors, has died at the age of 95.

Brown appears in the role of Susan in ‘Manhunt’, the only episode in the series written by producer Terry Dudley. Susan is a survivor who shares a small settlement with the blacksmith Seth (Dan Meaden) who finds the ill and delirious Jack after he narrowly escapes a wild dog pack on his return from Norway with Greg and Agnes. While Seth makes contact with Charles Vaughan at Challenor, Susan tends to the injured traveller as best she can. The pair then play host to Charles and Jenny, before their two visitors head off in pursuit of Greg Preston hoping to make sense of Jack’s confused account of what awaits them at Wellingham.

Born in Needham Market, Suffolk in 1927, Brown served with the Wrens during World War Two. After the war she was accepted at the Old Vic School in London and subsequently joined the Old Vic company, appearing in touring shows and in productions at Stratford-upon-Avon and the Birmingham Rep. 

WAYMARKER

By the time she was cast in the small guest role in Survivors, Brown had already established a career on the small screen as well as on stage. On TV, she’d appeared in Armchair Mystery Theatre (1964), Z-Cars (1964-72), Dixon of Dock Green (1965-69), The Prince and the Pauper (1976) and many other series.

Amongst fans of genre TV of the period, Brown is especially well-known for playing the role of Lady Eleanor in the Doctor Who story ‘The Time Warrior’ (shown between December 1973 and January 1984).

In 1977, the same year that she featured in Survivors, she also secured guest roles in Crown Court and The Duchess of Duke Street and appeared in a television adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Her role in one episode of Survivors was a minor waymarker in her long career, and was not something that drew much attention (outside of the ranks of Survivors fans) in the years that followed.

Brown continued to win supporting and guest roles in TV series of all kinds, and appeared in numerous stage productions. But it was her audition in 1985 for the role of Dot Cotton in the BBC soap Eastenders that completely transformed Brown’s career.

PANTHEON

Dot was the “chainsmoking, hypochondriac launderette manager of Albert Square”, a role that presented Brown with “a great Dickensian character of detail, humanity and colour” that over time saw Dot secure her place in the “the long-running soap’s female pantheon” (Guardian, 4 April 2022).

Brown would go on to appear in more than 2,300 Eastenders episodes as her character became one of the most fondly-regarded of the show’s ensemble, featuring in any number of major soap storylines. The role won her several industry awards, and Brown was also awarded an MBE in 2008, and an OBE in 2022. Brown retired from the cast of Eastenders in early 2020 at the age of 93.

June Brown: 16 February 1927 – 3 April 2022

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