EastEnders’ Brian Conley pays heartfelt tribute to his character Tom ‘Rocky’ Cotton following his final soap scenes as the fallout from the brutal murder of Keanu Taylor continues

Brian Conley has paid tribute to his EastEnders character Tom ‘Rocky’ Cotton following his shock exit from the soap.

Actor Brian, 62, took to Twitter on Saturday to share a picture of himself on the set of the BBC serial after Rocky’s final scenes aired during Friday’s episode.

Rocky was reported to the police by his estranged wife Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) and arrested for criminal damage by fire where life was endangered after he was involved in the burning down of her Walford cafe.

His arrest came after six of Alber Square’s matriarchs; Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner), Suki Kaur Panesar (Balvinder Sopal), Linda Carter (Kellie Bright), Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean), Denise Fox (Diane Parish) and Kathy attempted to cover their tracks following the Christmas Day killing of Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters).

Paying tribute to his character, Brian wrote: ‘Well Rocky, you pretended to be Sonia’s Dad, Had two heart attacks, Married Kathy Beale, Met the King of England, Your best mate’s Harry Redknapp, You blew up the cafe, and had a pet parrot called Jasper. Gonna miss you, you old rascal. X.’

Brian Conley has paid tribute to his EastEnders character Tom ‘Rocky’ Cotton following his shock exit from the soap

Rocky was reported to police by wife Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) and arrested for criminal damage by fire where life was endangered after his involvement in burning down her cafe

Rocky was reported to police by wife Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) and arrested for criminal damage by fire where life was endangered after his involvement in burning down her cafe

Paying tribute to his character, Brian shared some heartfelt words on social media after starring in the soap since May 2021

Paying tribute to his character, Brian shared some heartfelt words on social media after starring in the soap since May 2021

After stumbling around the square in a drunken stupor on Christmas Day, Rocky found himself witness to some of the steps taken by a few of the six matriarchs after the murder of Keanu.

Keanu was stabbed in the back by Linda as she attempted to stop him strangling Sharon to death in the Queen Vic pub after she called off their wedding earlier in the day and he found out he was not in fact the father of Albie, the son he thought he shared with Sharon, and that Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) was Albie’s real parent.

As his hangover lifted on Boxing Day and he began to piece his memory of the night before back together, Rocky remembered he had seen Stacey and Denise carrying a tarpaulin into the pub, and that he has spotted Sharon standing outside the cafe in her wedding dress.

He realised Kathy would have been one of the only people who could have let Sharon into the burned out cafe and that she could have be in trouble following the recent events in Walford and the resulting police activity on Albert Square.

When Rocky refused to stop asking Kathy questions the other matriarchs encouraged her to report him to police and get him sent to prison for his involvement in the cafe fire.

After seeing he’d searched for how to make insurance claims on his laptop the day before the fire, Kathy turned his computer in to police and he was arrested. 

Rocky was questioned by police after the people involved in Keanu Taylor's murder planned to get him out of Walford for knowing too much in the fallout of the killing

Rocky was questioned by police after the people involved in Keanu Taylor’s murder planned to get him out of Walford for knowing too much in the fallout of the killing

Fans were left emotional over his shock exit on Friday, hailing it the ‘end of an era’. 

They took to Twitter to share their thoughts as they bid Rocky farewell. 

One person posted: ‘Rocky leaving marks the end of an era as there’s no more members of the Cotton family left on the Square.’

Another shared: ‘Just realised that was actually Rocky’s last scene! Quite a pitiful goodbye for him tbh. Even if he wasn’t one of the strongest characters, Rocky was an endearing character and Brian Conley did a great job.’

‘I’m actually quite sad if tonight was Rocky’s last episode. It’s a bit of a rubbish ending to his story tbh. I know lots of people hated the character but I thought he was quite charismatic and Brian Conley played the role really well to be fair,’ a third wrote.

Someone else added: ‘Brian Conley did something I didn’t think possible and turned Rocky into a character I am going to really miss. Brian and Gilly T were an inspired pairing,’

Another questioned: ‘Was that rocky’s exit then!? I will miss him and i can’t believe I’m saying that but i really grew to like him over the last year.’

Several fans took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to shared their thoughts as they bid farewell to Rocky on Friday

Several fans took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to shared their thoughts as they bid farewell to Rocky on Friday

Someone else added: ‘Brian Conley did something I didn’t think possible and turned Rocky into a character I am going to really miss. Brian and Gilly T were an inspired pairing,’

Another questioned: ‘Was that rocky’s exit then!? I will miss him and i can’t believe I’m saying that but i really grew to like him over the last year.’

Brian quit EastEnders after BBC bosses banned the cast from taking part in lucrative pantomimes next year. 

The actor and comedian has played Rocky on the BBC One soap since May 2021, but decided to leave the show after bosses asked him to choose between panto and filming for the soap’s 40th anniversary celebrations. 

A TV insider told The Sun: ‘Often in milestone celebratory years like the 40th anniversary, bosses need to have all cast available so that they can storyline appropriately up to and beyond December to guarantee that level of drama for audiences. 

‘There’s a real buzz around the anniversary with plans already underway to bring audiences some explosive storylines. 

Six of Walford's matriarchs; Stacey Slater, Suki Kaur Panesar, Linda Carter, Sharon Watts, Denise Fox and Kathy Beale, found themselves embroiled in a series of events that led to Keanu's demise

Six of Walford’s matriarchs; Stacey Slater, Suki Kaur Panesar, Linda Carter, Sharon Watts, Denise Fox and Kathy Beale, found themselves embroiled in a series of events that led to Keanu’s demise

Several men had been teased as the potential victim in addition to Keanu and Nish before Christmas, with Jack Branning (Scott Maslen), Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden), Tom 'Rocky' Cotton (Brian Conley), Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo) and Ravi Gulati (Aaron Thiara) involved

Several men had been teased as the potential victim in addition to Keanu and Nish before Christmas, with Jack Branning (Scott Maslen), Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden), Tom ‘Rocky’ Cotton (Brian Conley), Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo) and Ravi Gulati (Aaron Thiara) involved

‘Filming for February usually takes place before Christmas, so for those wanting to do a five-week run would mean the show would be unable to use them in any of their plans relating to the anniversary.’ 

A spokeswoman for the show said in September: ‘As previously stated by Brian Conley earlier in the week, EastEnders are fully supportive of Brian’s decision to leave at the end of his contract and we wish him the very best for the future.

‘EastEnders cast take part in panto every year, but as we lead up to our milestone 40th anniversary, all cast members have been asked to be involved for storyline purposes. 

‘We’ve received no complaints. In fact everyone has been supportive of the plan.’

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