EastEnders star John Altman revealed that he once sold his blood for food after running out of money during a drug-fuelled trip to India.

The actor — who portrayed Nick Cotton in the long-running BBC One soap — wrote in his autobiography: ‘ Calcutta, now Kolkata, was the site of many adventures. I went to a Chinese Opium Den.’

‘Two guys took me in a rickshaw to a rundown tower block where we ended up in a room of elderly Chinese men reading newspapers.’

‘I expected something a bit more like a Fu Manchu film.’

‘I had two or three pipes. Outside, I threw up – short sharp vomit.’

‘I had no alternative but to beg. I also gave blood and was given five rupees, a boiled egg and a banana.’

The actor famously portrayed Dot Cotton’s (June Brown) son Nick — commonly referred to as Nasty Nick by fans — on EastEnders throughout much of the soap’s run.

He was one of the original cast members in the BBC One serial drama, and the character of Nick recurred for much of the show’s first couple of years, before departing.

He showed up once more in 1988 and ’89, when he featured heavily as a fellow inmate in Den Watts’ (Leslie Grantham) prison narrative — which saw the pub landlord agree to do time instead of revealing his alliance with organisation The Firm.


Nick frequented Albert Square regularly over the past couple of decades, but he would ultimately meet his demise in 2015 — in a scene reminiscent of that of Reg Cox’s demise, which was very first death in the show.

EastEnders continues Monday 4 May at 8pm on BBC One.

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