Nick Cotton was a recurring villain in the BBC Soap Opera EastEnders and had made his debut in the first episode in February 1985. Appearing as as semi-regular until 1991, Nick has made return stints in 1993, 1997, 2000 to 2001, 2008 to 2009 and 2014 until his death in 2015.
He was portrayed by John Altman.
Nick was born as the son of Dot and Charlie Cotton. During his growing up Nick began to develop a troublesome personality and was prone to trouble. In the first episode (first aired in February 1985) the body of an elderly man named Reg Cox is found, and he later dies in hospital from injuries in which he was beaten up. Nick was the killer, although at the time Nick's involvement was unknown, he was however a suspect and Nick was arrested a couple of months later but released due to lack of evidence. In 1989 Nick would confess that he killed Reg to Den Watts whilst in prison.
Throughout the next few years Nick appeared as a semi-regular, causing havoc in his wake every time he visited the Square. In 1990 he returned claiming he was a born again Christian, but this was a ploy to earn his mother's trust as he learned she won money on the bingo. He plotted to murder her, but at the last minute stopped her eating a tabled laced meal he prepared for her (although she had worked out he plotted to kill her when warned by Charlie Cotton and friend Ethal). Nick left the square and Dot broken hearted over what he planned to do to her.
In 1991 Nick returned again with a heroin addiction and Dot was determined to reform him. Dot locked him in a room to go 'cold turkey' but Nick grew paranoid overtime and suffered cravings. He broke out and murdered Queen Vic landlord Eddie Royle. A witness implicated Nick in Eddie's death and he stood trial in 1993, but was later found not guilty.
Nick introduced his wife Zoe and young son Ashley to Dot and they all moved away together in August 1993. But in 1997, Dot returned to reveal Nick was arrested for drugs possession, and that Zoe left him with Ashley. In 1998 Nick broke out of prison and told Dot he had AIDS in order to con more money out of her. Although she was close to giving him the money, she realized his lies and had him arrested and sent back to prison.
In 2000 Nick was released and reconciled with Ashley and both of them arrived back in Albert Square. He reignited his feud with Mark Fowler, but during this Nick ended up in a wheelchair when he fell from a viaduct. Nick returned 3 months later with crutches and wanting to get back at Mark sabotaged his motorbike. But this led to Ashley's death, because after the lad had stolen the bike it crashed and he was killed instantly. Dot threw him out after finding out Nick tampered with Mark's motorbike, saying she will never speak to him again.
Despite the incident with Ashley there was a chance of Nick having reconciliation with his mother. In 2005 he was diagnosed with cancer when in prison and Dot went to visit him (off-screen) for support.
On Christmas Day 2008, Nick - seemingly cured from his spine injury 8 years prior - turned up on Dot's doorstep with his young daughter Dotty. He had told his mother that Dotty's mother died due to alcoholism. However Dotty's real name was Kirsty, and Nick was back to his old ways and plotted to have Dot killed for money.
In June 2009 he tries to get Dotty to poison Dot whilst he is at the pub, however the girl decides against it and tells Dot what was happening and later laces Nick's drink with the pills. Nick gets angry at his daughter's betrayal and attempts to flee Albert Square. He bundles her into a car but crashes it and drags her into the cafe and holds it hostage. But the chip pan catches fire, and Nick is caught in the blaze whilst everyone escapes. The next day Nick reveals to Dot that he is still alive, and he departs once again but warns his mother that Dotty is evil.
In March 2014, Nick was revealed to have apparently died from a drug overdose whilst living in a squalor. Dot was told the news by police officers, and one of the 'officers' came back to reveal he was Charlie Cotton, Nick's son. Nick was then presumably cremated, although his mother Dot wasn't allowed to see the body. Exchanges between Charlie and the Undertaker seemed to hint that Nick wasn't dead.
Later in the year, it was revealed to viewers that Nick was in fact still alive, and that Charlie and his mother were on the run from him (for unknown reasons). In September 2014 Nick's presence was felt when he had smashed up Charlie's car, and sent him a text confirming it was him. The following month, Nick returned and began stalking his mother. On Halloween he revealed himself to still being alive, and revealed that he had taken part in a robbery and was on the run with the help of Charlie. Declared deceased, he was now living under the alias of Reg Cox.
Nick was thrown out by Dot in the New Year for putting Charlie's wife Ronnie in a coma by cutting the breaks on her car. He began squatting in a burned out house (which coincidently Reg Cox lived in when it was flats). Nick had began to go back on the heroin, and needing a fix got Dot to collect the drugs from a dealer. However the gear was dodgy and Nick fell seriously ill. He had asked Dot for an ambulance, but she later refused as she wanted "Jesus" to decide his fate. Nick then died in Dot's arms, apologizing for the years of pain he caused her.
A few days later Nick's corpse was discovered. Although some residents offered to cover up the death, Dot phoned the police and handed herself in. Nick's body was then taken away.
- Nick was originally not conceived by original EastEnders creators. However when the writers wanted to know the true identity of Reg Cox's killer, Nick was created as the creator's couldn't see the other residents being responsible. They were no involved in the casting process, and John Altman was picked for the part.
- Nick featured as a main character in a special episode named The Return of Nick Cotton which broadcast in October 2000 and acted as a build up to his return to EastEnders the following up. The episode depicted Nick getting out of prison and reconciling with his son Ashley.
- Nick's death is ironic and is a reference to the first ever scene of EastEnders. He is discovered in the very same room Reg Cox (his murder victim) was found in, and in the exact same position and was discovered by 3 characters just like Reg.