The BBC has confirmed that Brian Conley will be departing his role as Rocky Cotton in EastEnders - and it has been long planned for.


The show's statement reads: "We can confirm that Brian Conley will be leaving EastEnders. There is absolutely no truth in any claims of a feud with bosses and the show fully support Brian in his decision to leave which was made some time ago.

"We wish him the best of luck for the future as we continue to work towards his exit storyline which has been in the works for some time."

In a video posted to Conley's own Instagram page, Conley sent "much love" to EastEnders fans and denied any suggestions of a clash with the show's bosses and that he was already aware of Rocky's exit storyline and it was "good".

The actor stated that he made the decision for multiple reasons but made clear that he had loved his time with the soap over the past three years.

A report from The Sun on Monday (11th September 2023) claimed that Conley had unexpectedly quit the role of loveable rogue Rocky and suggested that his abrupt exit from the BBC One soap - which had recently won Best Soap at the British Soap Awards and the Best Continuing Drama award at the National Television Awards - would likely impact the upcoming Christmas storyline which will see six women surrounding a mystery man's dead body on Christmas Day.

Following this, the BBC initially did not confirm or deny the reports to and other press but stated: "There are many rumours and theories circulating about whose body is under the Christmas tree but, to not spoil the drama for the audience, we will not be commenting on any speculation."

Conley is due to appear in the pantomime Cinderella this festive season at the Milton Keynes Theatre and is also set to embark on a stand-up tour titled "The 3rd Farewell Tour…To Date" from 24th September 2023 and lasting at least until March 2024.

Gillian Taylforth as Kathy Beale and Brian Conley as Rocky Cotton for EastEnders.
Gillian Taylforth as Kathy Beale and Brian Conley as Rocky Cotton for EastEnders. BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

Conley joined the cast of EastEnders in 2021 as a character named Terry Cant, the biological father of Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy), but this was later revealed to be a con by his true role as Tom "Rocky" Cotton and his half-niece Kirsty "Dotty" Cotton (Milly Zero).

The truth was exposed at Christmas 2021 but the character was later reconciled with surrogate daughter Sonia and his love interest Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth), whom he married earlier this year.

However, the fly in the ointment was his first wife Jo Cotton (Vicki Michelle) who revealed they had never divorced and his marriage to Kathy was bigamy, prompting wedding chaos and Jo to blackmail the couple.

Gillian Taylforth as Kathy Cotton embracing Brian Conley as Rocky Cotton in EastEnders.
Kathy and Rocky embrace following the explosive return of Cindy Beale. BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

Kathy took out a sizeable loan to pay off Jo and planned to sell Beale family assets to pay off the loan, only to be scuppered by her returning son Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) who later threw out Kathy and Rocky when she refused to live in his house alongside his 'resurrected' first wife Cindy Beale (Michelle Collins).

It remains to be seen how the loan will be paid off - but a reported fire at Kathy's cafe could hold the answer - while we also wait to get the true identity of Jo Cotton's mysterious accomplice that she has been conspiring with on the phone.

Finally, the impact of Kathy's involvement in the epic Christmas death storyline will also likely be huge for the Beale/Cotton family.

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EastEnders airs Mondays to Thursdays at 7:30pm on BBC One and from 6am on BBC iPlayer. Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


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