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EastEnders star John Altman reveals his Surrey home truths

PUBLISHED: 16:33 31 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:09 20 February 2013

EastEnders star John Altman pictured here with trainer Simon Cook

EastEnders star John Altman pictured here with trainer Simon Cook

In the first of a new series, in which we'll be asking well-known Surrey residents to tell us their favourite things about the county, we hear from EastEnders actor John Altman (aka Nasty Nick), 57, who lives in Hampton Wick

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine July 2009

In the first of a new series, in which we'll be asking well-known Surrey residents to tell us their favourite things about the county, we hear from EastEnders actor John Altman (aka Nasty Nick), 57, who lives in Hampton Wick

What was it that brought you to Surrey in the first place and how long have you lived here?

I moved to Kingston in 1987 - the year of the hurricane. It was an economic thing. I was living in Chelsea and couldn't afford anything in Knightsbridge except a large wardrobe with a sink attached. I was a first-time buyer and bought a 1930s flat overlooking the river. I got so much more for my money and then fell in love with Surrey.

We may be one of the smallest counties, but we think we punch well above our weight - from Michelin-starred restaurants and great places to visit to our amazing countryside. What's your favourite thing about the area?

I now live in Hampton Wick, and it's in the perfect position. I love running and I've got three parks near me, including Richmond and Bushy. Then there is the river as well. I couldn't want for more.

Is there anything you don't like about the area?

The way they have developed the old part of Kingston to bring in Waitrose and John Lewis (even if I frequently shop there!). It was a beautiful old fishing village - now it looks more like a part of Birmingham or Reading. They should have done more in conserving its history in the same way as they did when they developed Richmond.

It's Sunday morning and you've got the rest of the day free - how would you choose to spend it?

My girlfriend and I would get up late, go for a run around one of the parks, cook some lunch and then read the Sunday newspapers and watch a movie.

We have some really fantastic pubs across the county. If you were heading out for a pub lunch, where would you choose to go and why?

I'm spoilt for choice but it would have to be The Albany in Thames Ditton, which is down a B road. There is just one sign to it. It is a lovely setting and not everybody knows about it. You can sit outside and gaze across at Hampton Court. The food is great, too...

It's your partner's birthday coming up... Where will you be taking her out for a slap-up meal?

The restaurant at The Petersham Hotel in Richmond - great food, great service and a romantic view of the scenery and the river below.

And your favourite place to sit and read the paper with a coffee and a chocolate brownie?

I don't have time for that except when I'm abroad on holiday. Anyway, my personal trainer Simon Cook at the FIT gym in Weybridge wouldn't approve. Like all members, I get a personal trainer every time I go, to make sure I am still following my personal training programme. They have made me fitter than I have been for decades. I can't speak highly enough about them.

You decide to go for a country walk... Where would you choose?

Walking up Box Hill; it is like a great piece of music - you can't get enough of it! I never get tired of it. When you have walked up from the car park, the view is amazing. I know every bit of Box Hill.

You're telling your friends about the county where you live... how would you describe it?

Surrey knocks the spots off North London. There is no comparison to its facilities, wide open spaces
and total beauty.

Is there a hidden treasure in the county you think we should all know about?

The Woodland Garden in the eastern corner of Bushy Park. It is like the Garden of Eden! There is a little river running through it. It is so tranquil and peaceful. I run round there sometimes to get away from it all. I'm not doing a marathon this year but do ten to 12 miles.

Okay, so there are some things that aren't so great.. there's a lot of concern about the new runway at Heathrow and the number of houses set to be built here. What do you think is the biggest single issue facing the area today?

The biggest issue is definitely housing developments. We can't get away from them. There is one up the road from me and it clears the view of Bushy Park for many houses - all thanks to greedy developers. Lego looks more attractive than most of what they put up. I would like to know what goes on in the minds of town planners. Even when there are protests, we still get pizza places we don't need or ugly housing estates.

Finally, if Surrey had a symbol, what do you think it should be and why?

Something to sum up the natural beauty - an oak tree and a deer...

  • John Altman is helping to promote the FIT gym in Weybridge. Tel: 0800 121 6545

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