EastEnders star quit show after writers wanted to turn his infamous killer character gay

John Altman attends the launch party for the new Winter Terrace at Lazeez Tapas Mayfair restaurant in London.

EastEnders star John Altman has confirmed that he refused to play a gay romance.

Altman played Nick Cotton on the BBC soap, and was one of its longest-serving characters from its inception in 1985 until 2015.

In an interview with BANG Showbiz, the actor revealed that he was written out of the show at one point after writers planned a same-sex romance for his character.

EastEnders character was ‘written out’ after actor rejected gay storyline.

He said: “They tried to make Nick Cotton gay, it was years ago now. I went in there straight, and so did the other guy, [George ‘Lofty’ Holloway], who was a bit of a loveable bozo in the early days.

“Anyway, they suddenly decided that he weren’t gay, they were gonna make him gay, and I didn’t think that was a good idea as it would’ve changed Nick’s character completely, really.

“So I went to the producer, I said, ‘I hear you’ve got this idea, but I don’t think it will work’, and she said, ‘Well, write him out,’ and I walked away. She was really harsh.”

He added: “If I’d have gone in playing a gay character, fine. But to suddenly make the character … I dunno, to me, as an actor, it would’ve been wrong. I don’t think the public would’ve wanted it either.”

EastEnders star John Altman as Nick Cotton in 1993

EastEnders star John Altman as Nick Cotton in 1993. (Mike Maloney/Getty Images)

June Brown, who played Nick’s mother Dot Cotton, had previously spoken about the incident.

Speaking in 2012, she said: “In the early days, we actors had no input. Julia [Smith] was quite a taskmaster.

“When Nick was supposed to start a gay relationship with Lofty, John Altman, who played Nick, told her he didn’t feel it was in character. When he left the room, Julia said: ‘Write him out!’ They did.”

Soap has won acclaim for LGBT+ representation.

The soap has long had LGBT+ representation,  and picked up a PinkNews Award earlier this month.

Writer Pete Lawson said: “35 years ago EastEnders started and I was 15, and there were no LGBT people on TV.

“I would have loved to have seen the life that was out there waiting for me. If you told me then that 35 years later I would have been here with this amazing show, I would have been amazed.

“It would have made me very, very happy. As a show we had the first gay kiss, the first gay Muslims, we had the first trans character, and this year we wanted to tell the story of Pride.

“We wanted to show a day in the lives of our community that for so many of us is important, for so many of us it’s a time when we first stood somewhere with hundreds and thousands of people and said, ‘These are my people, this is my family, this is where I belong.’”