EastEnders Cotton family stars – boyband fame, Tom Hardy link and co-star feud

EastEnders viewers have been entertained by the Cotton family for decades.

Dot Cotton first appeared in the BBC One soap in July 1985 as the mother of notorious criminal Nick Cotton.

A tragicomic character, Dot was known for her devout Christian faith, gossiping, chain smoking, hypochondria, and motherly attitude to those in need.

A recurring storyline in the serial has been Dot's continuous forgiveness of her son's villainous crimes.

Initially married at the start of the series to conman Charlie Cotton. Dot married again in 2002 to pensioner Jim Branning and the union proved to be popular with fans.

Daily Star has taken a look into the personal lives of the actors who play Cotton family members.

Dot Cotton played by June Brown

June joined EastEnders soon after the programme’s initial release in 1985.

However, her character’s lack of involvement with the Albert Square drama ledthe actress to speak about her underwhelming storylines on Rani Singh’s podcast Distinct Nostalgia.

She said at the time: "I’ve left, I’ve left for good. I’ve sent her off to Ireland where she’ll stay.

“I did make up a limerick, but it’s a bit dirty, really. I went back to do a good story. Alas and alack, when I got back it had gone up in smoke.

"I got a small part, a very small part. And that ended up as a big, wet fart. Alas and alack, I will never go back.”

June has also opened up about her sex life on ITV daytime show Loose Women in the past.

The 94-year-old actress spoke about her disinterest in the act in 2019.

She said that she’s no longer sexually active and actually stopped having sex after her husband died in 2003, making it almost 20 years.

“I’m sick and tired of sex, I really am,” June told the panelists.

Nick Cotton played by John Altman

John is best known for playing Nasty Nick and it seems the actor has a thing or two to say about the long running series.

The 69-year-old soap star thinks that the show has "too many episodes".

He said in an interview: "People do have lives to lead, I don’t know how people keep up with it, there are other things in life, a lot more. I’d rather be exploring the planet than watching a soap opera.”

“When I last went back I said to someone on the production team ‘How many characters are in EastEnders at the moment?’, and they said there were over fifty. If you go back to the original cast, there were no more than twenty.”

John joined the cast in 1985 as Dot’s son Nick, but the actor has now turned musician and has released an album titled Never Too Late To Rock And Roll. Another accolade that he proudly added to his collection is his Rear Of The Year title from 2001.

Tom Cotton played by Brian Conley

Brian joined the show as Sonia’s long lost father earlier this year.

The TV personality has since admitted that he joined EastEnders as a tribute to his father.

Despite previously turning down the role twice in 2012, Conley wanted to sign up in memory of his dad.

He said: "As you can imagine being a Londoner and now being part of EastEnders is such an incredible moment for me.

"I know for sure my dad’s looking down from above and saying ‘Good on you son!’ as it was always his favourite programme.”

“So in so many ways it really is an honour to be part of such an iconic show and to be working with an incredibly talented team on camera and off."

Brian has had lead roles in various musicals such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Hairspray, and has enjoyed a 40 year long television career.

Charlie Cotton played by Declan Bennett

Albert Square resident Charlie Cotton joined the show in 2014 and his appearance was short and sweet, lasting only a year,.

He was involved in some of EastEnders’ most memorable storylines with the Mitchell sisters.

He married Ronnie and had an affair with her sister Roxy during his time in Walford.

Before becoming a soap star, Declan appeared on This Morning in 1999 as part of a segment which aimed to put together a boy band.

He later became a member of Point Break, who had five top 20 singles.

The actor and musician still releases music under his own name.

Dotty Cotton played by Milly Zero

Nasty Nick's daughter Dotty entered the show in 2008 and is currently played by Milly Zero.

The actress has portrayed the role of the troublesome teen since 2019, but it was previously held by Molly Conlin from 2008 to 2010 before she left the square with her on-screen mother Sandy.

The original Dotty star was reportedly very upset at the fact she was not invited back to the soap to reprise her role.

She previously told The Sun: “They did approach me, [but] unfortunately they wanted the new Dotty to go back and appear a lot older and be played by someone in their 20s.

"Of course I would have loved to have returned to EastEnders, but I believe everything happens for a reason."

Milly previously played Hannah in the CBBC series All At Sea, a children’s series about a bed and breakfast by the seaside.

The actress loves flaunting her natural beauty on Instagram wearing bright, colourful outfits and posing for her 72.5 thousand followers.

Ashley Cotton played by Frankie Fitzgerald

Ashley was Dotty’s half brother and son of Nasty Nick.

He first appeared in the show back in 1993 on his way to meet his grandmother Dot.

He didn’t hang around for long but the troublemaker returned in 2000, this time played by Frankie Fitzgerald.

The character was riddled with problems and a regular drug user until he met his fatal end.

In 2001, Ashley stole a motorbike and unknowingly rode off with broken brakes that his own father had cut himself.

Since his EastEnders days, Frankie has starred in Harry and Cosh, Sky1’s Dream Team, Holby City and Casualty.

He also worked alongside Tom Hardy in the crime thriller Legend and owns Centre Stage Agency.

EastEnders airs Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday on BBC One

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