Christopher Hancock

Actor best known as the 'truly revolting' Charlie Cotton in 'EastEnders'

Charlie Cotton was the despicable small-time villain in the BBC soap
EastEnders who had deserted his wife Dot shortly after he forced her to have an abortion - just a year after their wedding. He returned to her time and again, only to sponge off her and leave once more. Even Christopher Hancock, the actor who played Charlie, complete with stick-on sideburns, on and off for six years, admitted: "He's a truly revolting character, a loser."

Christopher Anthony Arthur Hancock, actor: born Bishop Auckland, Co Durham 5 June 1928; married Ann Walford (two daughters; marriage dissolved); died Lincoln 29 September 2004.

Charlie Cotton was the despicable small-time villain in the BBC soap EastEnders who had deserted his wife Dot shortly after he forced her to have an abortion - just a year after their wedding. He returned to her time and again, only to sponge off her and leave once more. Even Christopher Hancock, the actor who played Charlie, complete with stick-on sideburns, on and off for six years, admitted: "He's a truly revolting character, a loser."

A long-distance lorry driver, Charlie was not even clever in his cunning, in the way that his ruthless son, "nasty" Nick, proved to be. He was lazy and pathetic. Whenever he was down on his luck, Charlie returned to Dot, a devout Christian who took pity on him. But she was shocked to discover first that he had had an affair with her half-sister, Rose, then that he had bigamously married Joan Leggett. Charlie finally died in a lorry crash, in 1991.

Born in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, in 1928, Christopher Hancock was a boy chorister at Durham Cathedral - like his younger brother, Stephen, who went on to play Ernest Bishop in Coronation Street and Laurence Lovell in The Archers. Christopher trained at the Old Vic Theatre School, before becoming a member of the Old Vic company.

Later, Christopher Hancock acted in the new Nottingham Playhouse's first repertory season (1963-64), starting with Corialanus, directed by Tyrone Guthrie. Despite appearing alongside such big stars as John Neville, Leo McKern and Ian McKellen, he managed to make an impression as Sicinius, with the Nottingham Evening Post's critic noting:

The people's tribunes are amusingly played by Christopher Hancock and George Selway, both wearing top hats and brandishing long staves with all the arrogance of upstart politicians who are little more than jeer-leaders.

Hancock returned to the Playhouse to take roles in Richard II and Measure for Measure (both 1965). He later appeared on the West End stage in the comedy It's a Two Feet Six Inches Above the Ground World (Wyndham's Theatre, 1970) and the musical Billy (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 1974).

On television, he had character roles as Sir Henry Norreys in The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1971), Ezra Jennings in The Moonstone (1972), Mr Greenish in The Brontës of Haworth (1973) and Mr Richardson in Love for Lydia (1977). He also played Wagstaff in the first two series of the sitcom The Gaffer (1981-82), which starred Bill Maynard as the managing director of a light-engineering company always on the brink of disaster.

But it was as the bad penny Charlie Cotton in EastEnders (1986-91), which he joined 20 months after its launch, that Hancock became a household face, if not name. He later returned as Charlie's ghost in the special EastEnders: the return of Nick Cotton (2000), which focused on the son whose evil reign in Albert Square encompassed burglary, pimping, blackmail and murder.

Hancock admitted to being in no doubt about the power of the soap's bosses, following his brother Stephen's axing from Coronation Street after demanding a better pay deal for actors not on long-term contracts. "What happened to Stephen has weighed heavily on my mind," he said. "When I'm on EastEnders, I'm very careful about what I say and do. Stephen learned that nobody's indispensable."

Anthony Hayward

Suggested Topics
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released the first teaser trailer a week early after it leaked online

Extras
indybest
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
News
i100
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer - Cardiff - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits and bonus: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer ...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: The Job:TEACHERS REQUIREDWe are...

Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are currently...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Special Needs Teaching Assistant ...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?