The Albert Square soap's co-founder Julia Smith wrote Altman out after he disagreed with a storyline which would have seen a romance for Nick and Lofty Holloway.
Altman told The Guardian: "Julia wrote me out for about a year when I protested that Nick wasn't the kind of man who would start a gay relationship with Lofty, another straight character."
June Brown recalled the scene: "When he left the room, Julia said, 'Write him out!' They did."
Meanwhile, Altman conceded that he is disappointed with the development of Nick's character and the Cotton family in general.
"I did sometimes feel frustrated that they didn't make more of Nick," he added. "They'd use him to pack a punch and make a headline at the expense of longer-term plots.
"I'd like him to have spent more time on the square and shown other sides to his character.
"June and I protested when they killed off my on-screen son and dad because it was a missed opportunity to follow a really dysfunctional family."
EastEnders - Nick Cotton through the years:
Copyright: BBC Pictures