John Altman was "sad" when he found out his bad boy character was being killed off in 'EastEnders' last year.

John Altman as 'Nasty' Nick Cotton

John Altman as 'Nasty' Nick Cotton

The 64-year-old actor was devastated when bosses told him his alter-ego 'Nasty' Nick Cotton - a role he played on and off for 30 years - was leaving Walford for good.

He told the Metro newspaper: "I was a bit [sad when I left]. I was fond of Nick even thought he was an evil b*****d, I don't know what more he could have done, though. He had the highest murder count of anyone on 'EastEnders'.

However, John believes producers get a bit too "trigger-happy" when it comes to killing off well-loved characters.

He explained: "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."

Meanwhile, with over three decades of experience on the soap, John believes the quality is starting to slump because storylines are too rushed and less emotional.

He said: "It's become so much bigger. 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 storylines were deeper and you got to know the characters better. When you have more characters you can't spend as much time with each of them.

"Doing four episodes a week is hard word. It's like being on a treadmill. You have to knuckle down to it. You're getting scripts all the time, it's like doing exams every week, but it means your short-term memory gets better."

And, although he has fond memories of his time on the show, he believes playing the bad boy held him back.

He said: "I was doing a lot of films before 'EastEnders'. You find a lot of doors close when you do a soap opera.

"I'm quite sad about that because as an actor you want to play as many parts as possible."

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