EastEnders star Jacqueline Jossa to make shock comeback for a VERY special episode

Jacqueline Jossa as Lauren Branning in EastEnders
EastEnders fan-favourite Jacqueline Jossa will return as part of a special tribute for Dot Cotton. (Image credit: BBC)

Former Albert Square star Jacqueline Jossa is reportedly set to return as Lauren Branning as part of a special tribute episode for EastEnders icon Dot Cotton (June Brown).

Jacqueline played Lauren Branning for eight years, leaving the Square in 2018 after the death of her sister Abi Branning (Lorna Fitzgerald) when the pair fell from the roof of The Queen Vic on Christmas Day in 2017.

Lauren survived the accident but Abi tragically lost her life. Now, after her four-year absence, Jacqueline, who also won I'm A Celebrity in 2019, is set to reprise the role for Dot's emotional funeral episode, according to The Sun.

A source told the publication: “Bosses got in touch with Jacq about returning for Dot’s special episode and she was more than happy to come back. She was back last week filming her little guest stint.”

Lauren will return to pay her respects to her step-grandmother Dot before she returns to New Zealand.

Dot Cotton comforts a crying Lauren Branning

Lauren Branning and Dot Cotton shared a close bond. (Image credit: BBC)

June sadly passed away in April at the age of 95 after becoming a national treasure playing Dot Cotton in the long-running soap for 31 years.

The tribute episode will see the Walford residents have a touching funeral for Dot after learning the sad news that she has passed away in Ireland where she had moved to be with her grandson, Charlie.

Dot was an integral part to the Branning family after marrying Jim (John Bardon) in 2002 and was a huge support to Lauren throughout her alcohol issues.

Dot Cotton hugging Lauren Branning

Dot was step-grandmother to Lauren. (Image credit: BBC)

The source added: “EastEnders bosses are pulling out all the stops to show just how much June was loved by the cast and crew. She was a huge part of EastEnders and her legacy will live on in Albert Square forever. She will never be forgotten.

“Without giving anything away the script is beautiful and what she would have wanted. It was an incredibly hard couple of days on set as she was so loved.

“But everyone was determined to give June and Dot the send off she deserved. There will be quite a few old faces returning for the episode.”

EastEnders airs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7.30 pm on BBC One — see our TV Guide for full listings. You can also catch up on episodes on BBC iPlayer now. 

Grace Morris
Staff Writer

Grace is a freelancer writer with WhatToWatch.com, and she now writes for our sister site TechRadar. She graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in 2020 with a degree in Writing and Film Studies, which only made her love for creative writing, film and TV grow stronger.

You'll usually find her watching the drama unfold in the latest reality series or much-loved UK soaps (usually with chocolate by her side!). She's an expert in EastEnders, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and everything reality-related from Selling Sunset and Married At First Sight UK to 90 Day Fiancé UK. Plus Netflix megahit Virgin River!

Grace also likes to explore new places with her friends and family and, of course, watch and read about the latest films and TV series.