‘Can’t say what you like’ EastEnders star John Altman on standing up to ‘woke’ BBC bosses

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John Altman has received backlash from viewers after making a comparison between ‘woke’ BBC bosses and the Taliban in his recent appearance on GB News. The EastEnders alum spoke to Dan Wootton about his refusal to portray a proposed storyline which would have seen Nick Cotton begin a relationship with his friend Lofty Holloway (played by Tom Watt).

The EastEnders star’s interview on GB News attracted considerable attention on Twitter after comparing BBC bosses with the Taliban when recalling his time on the long-running soap.

Introduced by EastEnders co-creators Tony Holland and Julia Smith in 1985, Nick Cotton was initially intended as a minor recurring character.

Appearing with Dan Wootton on Monday, Altman recalled a disagreement with Smith after he refused to go along with a proposed same-sex relationship with Nick’s friend Lofty.

Wootton prompted the actor: “It’s not that you were opposed to playing a gay character, just to be clear.”

“It was about the fact, and I agree with this, it didn’t make any sense for Nasty Nick to become gay.”

Altman agreed and added: “It was Nasty Nick and Lovable Lofty, the pot man at the Queen Vic.

“Those two characters were poles apart […] and neither of them were gay.”

The soap opera star revealed he met with producer Julia Smith after hearing rumours about the potential storyline being spread around the set.

He told the EastEnders boss at the time he didn’t think the viewers would appreciate Nick’s sudden turn considering his history in the series up to that point.

Although Smith told Altman she would bear his complaints in mind, he claimed she told the other screenwriters to write him out of the series.

Altman would indeed leave the series in 1991, though ‘Nasty Nick’ eventually returned in 1993.

He would make subsequent appearances in 1998, 2000-2001, 2008-2009 and was finally killed off in the 2015 Christmas Special.

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GBN’s Dan Wootton replied by suggesting many BBC actors have started to avoid standing up to ‘woke’ producers out of fear of losing their contracts.

Altman agreed and replied: “It’s almost like the Taliban isn’t it? You can’t say what you like.”

The soap opera star’s unexpected comparison drew a number of baffled responses from the show’s viewers on Twitter.

One user replied, sarcastically: “Yep. Exactly the same as the Taliban.”

“Frankly, who gives a s**t about the script of Eastenders,” said another.

“So ridiculous to draw comparisons between the Taliban and Eastenders.”

EastEnders has nevertheless remained at the forefront of LGBT+ representation, having caused controversy in 1989 for featuring the first gay kiss in a UK soap opera.

EastEnders airs Mondays and Fridays at 8pm, and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm on BBC One.


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