John Altman - Biography

"Coming to fame as Nick Cotton in EastEnders was a life-changer for me and I think I handled fame pretty well. I’m grateful that it came to me when I was 32; if I’d been a bit younger it might have got to me more."

Reading, England


Horoscope : Capricorn

Who is John Altman?

John Clarkson Stewart, professionally known as John Altman, is an English actor and singer most widely recognised as EastEnders villain "Nasty" Nick Cotton. He was born in Reading on 2nd March 1952 and has been an actor since 1979, with his debut appearance in neo-noir crime film The First Great Train Robbery.

John Altman's childhood

Acting has long been a part of John's life. Speaking to The Express in 2016, the actor revealed "As a child I was painfully shy… but joining an amateur dramatics company as well as the local swimming club helped bring me out of my shell."

He further went on to reveal that acting has long been in his family. His grandfather, Johnnie Schofield Jr, appeared in old TV films including 1942's Went The Day Well.

As a teenager he hitchhiked across Europe, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, following the then-dubbed 'hippie trail'.

After returning home he completed his A-level in art and went to art school, before finally taking up acting.

John Altman's TV career

Whilst most widely recognised for weaving in and out of the East End in ITV's EastEnders over the years, John's TV career is as diverse as you can get. He's appeared in a staggering 51 TV productions between 1982 and 2017, ranging from children's favourite Balamory, via popular quiz shows The Weakest Link and Pointless Celebrities, to Celebrity Coach Trip and 2020's The Real Marigold Hotel.

John Altman's film career

His acting career hasn't been limited to the small screen however, with John getting his fill of the film world over the years too. The same year as his debut appearance in The First Great Train Robbery, he starred as George Harrison in Beatles biopic The Birth of the Beatles. From there he'd appear in 1982's Remembrance as Steve (which was also Gary Oldman's first film) and, perhaps his biggest production, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi as a Rebel Pilot. His last film appearance was as the voice of Reverend William Willoughby in 2016 animated film I Am Khama, which explores the colonial past of Botswana.

John Altman's stage career

Whilst TV and film are certainly John's bread and butter, the talented actor has also taken to the stage over the years. He made his stage debut in an adult pantomime in 1994 with EastEnders co-stars Barbara Windsor and Mike Reid. His biggest stage appearance, however, was as Billy Flynn in the 2002 UK touring production of Chicago. A year later he appeared alongside fellow soap actor Nigel Pivaro (Coronation Street's Terry Duckworth) in Bouncers, a stage play by John Godber.

John Altman's music career

A man of many talents, John has also dabbled in music. In 2010 he joined reformed British glam rock band The Heavy Metal Kids as the lead singer, however left the following year to focus on other commitments.

John Altman's personal life

John's love life has been a quiet one. In 1986 he married to Bridget Pouhan, however the couple divorced in 1997 after 11 years together. They share a daughter, Rosanna, and granddaughter Lily. 

In 2016 he was living in London with his actress partner Diana Marchment, however revealed on The Real Marigold Hotel in 2020 that he was open to finding love again, suggesting the couple were no longer together. He is now on the search for a life partner, but has openly ruled out the use of dating apps to find one.

In 2020 John opened up about his bad relationship with alcohol. Speaking on The Real Marigold Hotel, he revealed he had been sober for 22 years after a bout of "abnormal drinking".

He stated "As an actor in my younger days, I was getting up late and going to the pub at lunchtime, so I stopped drinking 22 years ago."

"That wasn't easy. I thought I'd be really boring if I didn't have a drink, but that's not the case."

In 2016 he released his autobiography, In The Nick of Time.

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