Josie arrives in Albert Square in August 1998 to visit her son, Mick McFarlane whom she believes to be a successful musician. However, Mick's music career failed, and he has ended up selling CD's on a market stall in the Square, as well as running the Bridge Street Café's night bistro. Josie, who has high aspirations for herself and her family, is not pleased to find out that her son has been lying about his professional status, but Josie also harbours a few secrets of her own. Josie's husband recently died, but before his death he was defrauded in a Jamaican property scam, leaving Josie bankrupt. Josie fosters a young girl named Kim McFarlane, whom she claims is a distant relative of Mick's. Kim is the illegitimate daughter of her philandering husband, and after her mother's death, Josie kindly took her in instead of seeing her go into care. When Mick is finally made privy to this information, he is extremely shocked and even more surprised to find out that both Josie and Kim plan to stay in Walford instead of returning to Jamaica. Despite his initial misgivings, Mick soon welcomes his mother and new sister into his home. Josie and Kim later move into 3C Albert Square, where Josie becomes friendly with her downstairs neighbours, Dot Cotton and Lilly Mattock, although Josie and Dot bicker constantly.
Josie initially gets herself a job as a barmaid at The Queen Victoria, and she later becomes the receptionist for Fred Fonseca's at Walford Surgery. However, things do not run smoothly for her in her new post. Josie is a strict perfectionist, she also expects perfection from everyone else, and she isn't averse to telling them so either. Her strict mannerisms only seek to frighten away half the patients. She eventually manages to settle down with a lot of coaching from Dr Fonseca, however, yet more problems arise when she discovers that her employer is gay Josie is a strict Christian and she feels that working for homosexual conflicts with her religious beliefs. She goes as far as to accuse him of coercing Kim into becoming a lesbian. Josie continues down a path of self-righteousness, judging everyone by her own, impossibly high standards. After she discovers that her son has become involved with ex-prostitute, Nina Harris, she cannot condone their friendship, and her reserved manner towards Nina infuriates Mick. It takes bigoted remarks by racist Jim Branning to make Josie realise that she is as extreme in her way as he is, but by then it is too late. Having forgotten to renew her visa, she is threatened with deportation and is forced to return to Jamaica, leaving Kim in Mick's care. She promises Kim she will return when she sorts out her visa. Her last appearance is in February 2000.