Real reason Brian Conley quit EastEnders revealed leaving show in chaos as more could follow out the door

EASTENDERS star Brian Conley quit after bosses barred the cast from appearing in lucrative pantomime  roles next year.

It sparked fears that other stars could also walk as the festive stage shows clash with filming for the BBC soap’s 40th anniversary.

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Brian Conley has quit EastEnders and the reason is that he was forced to choose between the TV soap and pantomime appearancesCredit: New Victoria Theatre

Conley, 62, earns a six-figure sum for playing Buttons as Cinderella, while other stars are also regulars on the panto circuit.

However show executives told them they had to decide between that or Albert Square at the back end of 2024.

The soap is already making preparations to mark its landmark birthday in February 2025, with  filming scheduled to take place two or three months beforehand — bang in the middle of panto season.

A TV insider said: “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.

“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.”

The Sun revealed earlier this week that Conley was leaving, but no explanation was given.

He first appeared as Tom “Rocky” Cotton in May 2021, and spoke of his delight at signing up to the show, which was his dad’s favourite.

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Conley’s abrupt departure was a surprise, and is proving a headache for producers.

He is one of Britain’s biggest panto stars, with his first role as a 17-year-old in Dick Whittington in 1978.

He has dressed up as Buttons for the past 30 years.

Co-stars Shane Richie, who plays Alfie Moon, and Steve McFadden, otherwise known as Phil Mitchell, have also made a small fortune performing for decades in shows including Peter Pan and Robin Hood.

Other EastEnders stars who have done panto include Adam Woodyatt — better known as Ian Beale — as well as Michelle Collins, who has returned as Ian’s ex Cindy, and Shona McGarty, who plays Whitney Dean.

A spokeswoman for the show said: “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.”

The long-running soap first aired on February 19, 1985.

A spokeswoman added: “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.”

EastEnders plans for 2024 have been disrupted by Brian's abrupt decision to quit the BBC soap

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EastEnders plans for 2024 have been disrupted by Brian’s abrupt decision to quit the BBC soapThe soap's writers had placed Brian at the heart of the its future by marrying Rocky to show stalwart Kathy Beale, played by Gillian Taylforth

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The soap’s writers had placed Brian at the heart of the its future by marrying Rocky to show stalwart Kathy Beale, played by Gillian TaylforthCredit: BBCRocky could be killed off in a dramatic Christmas storyline - possibly saving the life of another big character

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Rocky could be killed off in a dramatic Christmas storyline – possibly saving the life of another big characterCredit: BBC

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Source: tiengtrunghaato.edu.vn

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