EastEnders star Dot cottons on to her Jewish roots

By Jennifer Lipman, August 4, 2011

Actress June Brown has discovered that her ancestors were Sephardi Jews expelled from Africa during the Spanish inquisition.

The EastEnders star, who has played Albert Square gossip Dot Cotton since 1985, is the latest celebrity to learn more about her Jewish heritage on the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are?

On the programme, to be broadcast next Wednesday on BBC1, Ms Brown found out that her great-great grandfather, Isaac Bitton, was a champion bare-knuckle fighter. He was described in a 1908 Jewish Chronicle as one of the "Jews who were equal to the best".

The show traced the 84-year-old actress's roots through Spain and Amsterdam and back to 17th-century Algeria. "They talk about the wandering Jew and they seem to have wandered all the time," she said.

She is proud of her new-found roots. "I feel more connected," she said.

June Brown will be on Who Do You Think You Are on August 10

Last updated: 2:55pm, August 4 2011