Jim’s homecoming is destined to be one of the most moving soap scenes of the year, but EastEnders star June Brown says Dot isn’t looking forward to it…

When actor John Bardon suffered a stroke, EastEnders decided to mirror it in the storylines with Jim suffering a stroke too. In the year since, Dot actress June Brown has tackled some of the soap’s most harrowing scenes, none more so when she made the decision to have Jim go into care. Now, John is making his first appearances since his stroke, when Jim is brought home to Dot for a birthday surprise. Only instead of joy, it fills her with dread…

Actress June Brown discusses exactly how Dot feels:

“Dot knows Jim would like to come home for his birthday, but she’s afraid to ask him. She’s scared she won’t be able to look after him properly. But she also feels terrible that he’s in care, and incredibly guilty that she let it happen.

The first she knows that Bradley and Stacey have organised a surprise party for Jim at home is when she walks in to find the lounge decorated, music playing and Ricky, Bianca and the kids there.

Stacey tells her Bradley has gone to get Jim and she’s stunned. She asks everyone to leave and tells Stacey to cancel the visit. But it’s too late. Dot opens the front door to see Jim.

She is overwhelmed with emotion and runs her hand over his face. She’s thrilled to see him. Especially when she sees how pleased he is to be home. She’s happy, but she’s upset too.

Later, she tells Jim that she fears she’s been a terrible wife. She also confesses that she can’t cope with him being back in the house, sat where he used to be.

He motions for her to sit with him and she rests her head on his shoulder and they hold hands. When Bradley comes to take Jim back, he doesn’t want to go and their parting is very touching.

Dot tells him ‘I love you Jim Branning, you’re the one true love of my life’. She also promises that she will have him home. This visit has made her realise that it’s where he belongs.

Having John back on set was emotional – for all of us. I’ve been in close contact with him since he had his stroke, but I think it was a lot harder for people who haven’t seen him.

I thought it was absolutely necessary John’s illness was written into our storylines and the Stroke Association people were very pleased with it.

It was nearly a year to the day that he had his stroke when John came back, so that felt quite apt and special.

I miss John terribly. I think we are a great screen partnership, which is something very rare and very special.”