EastEnders actress June Brown cannot afford to stop working

Sarah Coles
The Graham Norton Show - London
The Graham Norton Show - London

June Brown, who plays Dot Branning in Eastenders, has revealed that she is losing her sight. The 88-year-old actress says she will continue working regardless, because she cannot afford to give up.

She told Radio 4 that her vision in her left eye has been reduced to a small circle with what looks like the cross-hairs of a rifle, adding: "I see things in my eyes now."

But while other 88-year-olds might have decided to retire, Brown says she cannot afford to. She admitted that she hadn't always been good about putting money away for the future, and that her pension savings were reduced by around 50% in the financial crisis. She added that she had to work because she was worried about "being poor when I'm old."

Her financial worries are something Brown first revealed in 2013, when she returned to EastEnders. She said at the time that she only started earning "real money" at the age of 58, so couldn't afford to save before then. She added: "I've always been afraid of being poor when I'm old. I think it's a dreadful thing to be strapped for cash when you are elderly. It's awful when you're young, too, but you always have hope that things can get better. A long as I am capable of working, I can learn lines and move around, I will carry on. I think I'd be utterly bored if I stopped."

Fortunately Brown still seems to be enjoying her work, and there seems little sign of the EastEnders work drying up in the near future.
Do actors retire?

There are plenty of actors who have worked into their 90s. Eli Wallach gained fame in the 1940s and was 91 when he starred in the romcom 'The Holiday'. He continued working until a few years before his death in 2014. TV actress Betty White, meanwhile, is still starring in a sitcom at the age of 93 - 30 years after she was deemed old enough to appear in 'The Golden Girls'.

Shockingly 56-year-old Emma Thompson was recently asked whether she was considering retirement. She answered that asking an actor whether they will give up acting is like asking a painter about giving up painting: why would they ever stop?

Others beg to differ. Perhaps the most famous face who recently announced he's quitting while he's ahead is Captain America star Chris Evans. He told Variety that he would retire from acting at the end of his Marvel contract. At the moment he is just 33 years old. He's not expected to put his feet up entirely, however, as he wants to move behind the camera into directing.

But what do you think? Could you see yourself working in your 80s or 90s? Let us know in the comments.

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