'EastEnders' actor John Altman quit soap when producer 'tried to make Nick Cotton gay'

June Brown and John Altman attend the TRIC Awards 2017 at The Grosvenor House Hotel on March 14, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Original EastEnders cast member John Altman has said he first quit the programme when a producer wanted to make his character, Nick Cotton, gay.

The actor didn't think it "would work" and believed the public wouldn't have wanted the change either.

"They tried to make Nick Cotton gay, it was years ago now. I went in there straight, and so did the other guy, Lofty, who was a bit of a loveable bozo in the early days," he told BANG Showbiz.

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"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.

Actors (L-R) Nejdet Salih, Gillian Taylforth and John Altman in a scene from the BBC soap opera 'EastEnders', 1984. (Photo by Don Smith/Radio Times/Getty Images)

"But, I went back. I was just written out for that period. 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."

Altman, 67, played the bad boy from 1985, returning intermittently before the character was killed off in 2015.

He went on to release an autobiography, In the Nick of Time, in 2016.

John Altman attends the launch party for the new Winter Terrace at Lazeez Tapas Mayfair restaurant in London. (Photo by Brett Cove/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, former EastEnders actress Katie Jarvis recently spoke out against "job-shamers" after she was revealed by the Daily Star Sunday to be working as a security guard in B&M Bargains shop in East London.

Appearing on Victoria Derbyshire, she said: "I woke up on Sunday really embarrassed...to be on the front pages just for having a job really upset me.

“I feel the way they portrayed the story wasn’t very nice. It was really quite nasty - to be made to feel degraded.”

She added: “A lot goes into being a security guard, they put themselves at risk. I need to stand up for them and for working class people.”

Jarvis joined the programme as Hayley Slater in February 2018 before leaving a year later.