EastEnders fans demand Rocky Cotton is recast as Brian Conley confirms soap exit

EastEnders fans have demanded that the iconic character of Thomas "Rocky" Cotton should be recast rather than killed off after actor Brian Conley quits the soap.

Brian, 62 who arrived in Walford over two years ago confirmed he would be leaving the hit BBC soap earlier this week and is said to have quit after he was unable to appear in various pantomime roles next year.

The sudden news of his departure has shocked EastEnders viewers who are worried the character will die in the upcoming fire at the café owned by Rocky's wife Kathy (Gillian Taylforth).

Some viewers have also suggested that the exit of Lorraine Stanley who has played the role of Karen Taylor for seven years will also be linked to the blazing storyline. Taking to social media one fan wrote: "My theory, Nish [Panesar] starts the café fire, Rocky dies in it, as does Karen."

Other viewers have begged BBC bosses not to kill off Rocky but instead have him recast. One asked: "Why cant they just recast him, not like its not be done before. Be gutted cause I like Rocky."

A second commented: "Recast rocky. We don’t care. Don’t build a new story bc of him." While one fan suggested former Coronation Street star Bradley Walsh take over the role as they said: "If Rocky needs a recast, then I suggest Bradley Walsh.

"He and Brian Conley look similar enough – just dye Brad's hair white, stick a goatee on his face and we're good to go!"

Reports in The Sun said Brian had to choose between his pantomime appearances and the TV soap. The actor who confirmed his exit earlier this week said it had been a "tough decision" but denied reports that he had a "clash" with BBC bosses in a video posted on Instagram on Tuesday.

The 62-year-old said: "You may have heard reports that I’m leaving EastEnders and it was a tough decision, but it is true, I am going.

"I made it for many reasons that decision and it’s tough because they’re such a wonderful crowd in front of the cameras and behind the cameras and I have loved my three years there.

"So that’s the truth in the reports.

"There’s other parts of reports saying that I clashed with TV bosses and the crew, I didn’t clash with anyone, I didn’t have a rant."

Brian said he had the "blessing" of the BBC to leave the show and that he was "excited" about his character Rocky’s exit "because I know it’s good", he said.

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