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
Life and Style
LifeReddit asked a simple question with infinite answers this week
Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Life and Style
beauty
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice