Dotty Cotton is proving to be a chip off the old block, and is currently involved in a tense blackmail plot with Ian Beale that would no doubt make her dead dad, Nasty Nick Cotton, proud.
The offspring of EastEnders‘ original bad boy has made more friends than enemies since moving back to her father’s family home in 2019, but Milly Zero, who plays her, says that’s the price you pay for bearing the name of one of soap’s most iconic villains.
“Everyone uses her dad’s name against her as they know it pushes her buttons,” the star tells RadioTimes.com. “She pretends she doesn’t care about her dad, but it is always a stab in the heart whenever his name is mentioned. Sonia, Martin, Ian – they’ve all held the fact she’s his daughter against her in the past when she’s misbehaved.”
Zero reckons her aggressive alter ego isn’t just Nasty Nick with piercings and eyeliner, and views her more as a mixture of her parent and God-fearing grandma. “I see Dotty as being in-between her dad and Dot,” she smiles. “She definitely has the villainous devil on her shoulder, but also has morals and a heart and is a good judge of character.
“The only reason she’s taunting Ian is because she thinks he’s being a hypocrite and Sharon deserves to know the truth about his part in Dennis’s death – she hates liars. So there’s a bit of Nick and a bit of Dot. What a mix!”
Nick was sensationally killed off five years ago, dying in Dot’s arms after a drug overdose as part of the soap’s 30th anniversary in 2015, and Zero never got to work with original cast member John Altman, as Dotty was played by Molly Conlin when the characters last shared the screen in 2010.
“John and I have never met but I’m really honoured to take his legacy on,” shares Zero. “Of course I’ve watched all his stuff as Nick and have heard so much about him. It would be interesting to meet up, I’m sure he’s aware Dotty is back and hopefully our paths will cross.”
And if they do, Zero has a burning question about her character’s backstory she wants her on-screen parent’s perspective on:
“I’d ask him how evil did he think Dotty actually was back when we first met her. Nick tried to make Dotty kill Dot when she was just a little girl, so why did she go along with it? Because she was genuinely evil, or she looked up to her dad so much she just went along with it? That’s what I’d like to know.”
As Dotty tightens the screws on guilty Ian in the coming weeks and threatens to expose him to Sharon once and for all, maybe we’re about to find out just how dastardly Dotty really is?