According to John Altman, who has played Cotton on and off since 1985, his character nearly had a gay relationship in the 1980s. But he claims Julia Smith, Albert Square's co-founder wrote Altman out of the soap after he quarreled with a potential plot which would have seen Lofty Holloway and he start a relationship. Altman told The Guardian: "Julia wrote me out for about a year when I protested that Nick wasn't the kind of man who would start a gay relationship with Lofty, another straight character." Amongst other storylines over the years, viewers have seen him twice commit murder, succumb to a heroin addiction, and attempt to poison his own mother. He was later voted one of television's all-time most villainous characters in a Channel 4 poll.