Father Ted star Pauline McLynn said she touched Dot Cotton's face just "to make sure she was real" on her first day of filming for her new role in EastEnders.

McLynn, who will make her debut as Dot's estranged daughter-in-law Yvonne Cotton in the next few weeks, said, "June Brown is this tiny 87-year-old jewel, not a pick on her. I was sitting opposite Dot Cotton in her Eastenders home and I was thinking to myself, is she real? But I touched her and she was! It’s all very exciting.”

McLynn will appear on Albert Square in several storylines featuring her fictional son Charlie Cotton and the 51-year-old Sligo-born actor said her first moment on set was "strange".

Speaking to Ray D'Arcy on Today FM, she said: “This soap has anything between eight and eleven million viewers, so it’ll be very strange. It’s the most beautiful set I’ve ever been on. But it’s absolutely freezing.

"I said, ‘It’s cold out here’ and they said it’s cold on Albert Square even in the summer when the sun is beating down outside."