Belfast Telegraph

John Altman: 'EastEnders was better with fewer episodes'

John Altman has accused EastEnders bosses of being "trigger-happy" by axeing stars from the soap.

Former EastEnders star John Altman finds it difficult to keep up with the soap now there are so many episodes.

The 64-year-old actor played "Nasty" Nick Cotton in the BBC soap from 1985 to 2009 and returned in October 2014 before he was killed off in February 2015. Having experienced the show years ago and more recently, John told the Metro newspaper that the major difference is the amount of episodes per week - which increased to four per week in 2001.

"I think the quality was better when there were fewer episodes. I'm not being nostalgic or pining for the good old days, but in the earlier episodes, the story lines went deeper and you got to know the characters better," he explained. "When you have more characters you can't spend as much time with each of them. When we started, there were 24 characters and when I was last in the show, there were over 50."

The demands of shooting four episodes per week also takes its toll on the actors, John added, describing having to learn each script as "doing exams every week".

While being killed off is a common exit for a soap star, John said in the interview that he feels EastEnders bosses can sometimes be a bit "trigger-happy" when it comes to getting rid of the show's stars.

"They got rid of Pat Butcher and lovely Cheryl Fergison around the same time," he said. "They were a good contrast to the other characters. Producers do get a bit trigger-happy at times. It's a short-term injection of higher viewing figures but then they settle back to what they were before. But that's showbiz."

Despite the death of his onscreen alter ego, John hasn't ruled out a potential return to EastEnders and has dreamed up some imaginative scenarios for a comeback.

"Maybe Dot (Cotton, Nick's mum) had twins," he laughed. "I could come back as the good twin. Or perhaps the ghost of Christmas past, looming over Dot's bed like Jacob Marley."

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