EastEnders

EastEnders star ‘incredibly sad’ as he reflects on ‘huge loss’ after co-star exit

EastEnders star Max Bowden confessed he is “incredibly sad” following news of Brian Conley’s exit.

The actor, 28, has portrayed the role of Ben Mitchell since 2019 while Brian made his first appearance as Thomas “Rocky” Cotton in 2021. It was announced in September that Brian, 62, had stepped down from the role, with The Sun claiming his rapid exit was due to a fiery clash with BBC bosses – something he later denied.

Opening up about his co-star’s upcoming departure at the Inside Soap Awards, Max confessed: “I am incredibly sad. I love Brian.” He added: “With what we do you see it happen all the time, people come and people go and it’s either down to personal circumstance or people wanting to try something else.

“Brian is an incredibly successful man, and he will go on to smash whatever he does next. It’s gonna be a huge loss to us, I’m sure he’s doing the right thing by him and I wish him all the best.”

Max Bowden has played Ben Mitchell since 2019
Max Bowden has played Ben Mitchell since 2019 (Image: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)
After reports emerged of Brian’s decision to quit, it was alleged that writers were scrambling to fit his rapid exit in with the upcoming Christmas storylines, meaning Rocky could be another character who meets his death during the festive period. An insider told the publication: “It’s all come to a head. The truth is, bosses are furious.

“It looks as though he’s just not enjoying being on EastEnders any more – and has been telling a lot of colleagues and telly friends he wanted out for a while. Brian’s imminent departure was thought to have derailed the show’s long-term plans, with bosses believing he was “in it for the long haul”.

It was announced last month that Brian Conley had quit the role of Rocky Cotton
It was announced last month that Brian Conley had quit the role of Rocky Cotton (Image: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

The source added: “The Beeb wanted him to stay, but he’s having none of it. They’d made so many plans around him and his character, and they really thought he was in for the long haul. Whatever has wound him up, it feels like he can’t get out of there quick enough – and now they’re going to have to rewrite their storyline plans for his rapid exit.”

The actor quickly shut down claims of any clash between himself and bosses, insisting he was fully supported in his decision to leave. Speaking on a video shared on social media, Brian said: “Hello lovely people its me Brian Conley aka Rocky, sending out this message especially to all the EastEnders fans.

Brian shut down reports of a clash
Brian shut down reports of a clash (Image: Instagram/@realbrianconley)

“Now you may have heard reports that I am leaving EastEnders, and it was a tough decision but it is true – I am going, and I made the decision for many reasons. It is tough because there’s such a wonderful crowd in front of the camera and behind, and I loved my three years there.

Brian continued: “As to truths in the reports, there are parts saying I clashed with TV bosses and the crews, I didn’t clash with anyone or go on a rant. I have gone with their blessings at the Beeb and I am excited for the future and where it’s going to go. He signed of the video by saying: “I’m also excited about Rocky’s exit as I know it’s good! Sending much love, all EastEnders fans, enough said.”

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