Expect a torrent of tears from Walford’s Sonia Fowler in the not-so-distant future, as it was revealed in tonight’s episode of EastEnders (Tuesday 21st September) that her long-lost dad, Rocky, isn’t her dad, after all!
Rocky is, in fact, Dotty’s Uncle, Thomas Cotton, and has secretly teamed up with Dotty to help her get her inheritance from granny Dot back from Sonia, who has power of attorney over Dot’s financial affairs.
Sonia, you may recall, had considered giving Dotty her inheritance in advance, back in April, but changed her mind after discovering the feisty brunette had been involved in a scam at the club with Tiffany, in which the girls were charging drunken men for drinks they hadn’t ordered, and pocketing the extra cash.
A month later, ‘Rocky’ then pitched up in Walford, claiming to be Sonia’s biological father and saying that wanting to ‘reconnect’ with her.
The truth about his identity was revealed after he was arrested for keying a car belonging to Sonia’s two-timing new love interest, Ethan. At the police station, when asked to give his name, he responded ‘Thomas Cotton.’
Back in the square, after being released, he caught up with Dotty at the club. As she scolded him for almost scuppering their plan, it emerged the duo were working together to get Dotty’s inheritance out of Sonia’s clutches.
Brian Conley, who plays Thomas - formerly Rocky, formerly Terry Cant - talks about his character’s big secret and what the future holds as Terry continues to lie to his friends, neighbours and, most importantly, poor Sonia…
Who is Thomas and why has he been pretending to be ‘Rocky’?
He’s pretending to be Sonia’s dad because he has been brought in by Dotty, who has given him all the back story to be able to convince Sonia that he is her father, to fleece her out of the money from Dot.
Dot gave the house to Dotty, and Sonia feels that Dotty isn’t old enough to take on the responsibility of having the wealth of this house. So they’ve been working on convincing her that this is her dad - enough so that she has the confidence and trust to listen to what he says.
However, as he goes on, he feels more strongly that this is his world now and he doesn’t want to give it up. He’s gone in with his bravado, thinking ‘Yes, I can handle this, let’s get all this money,’ but as the weeks and months have gone on, he very much realises now that this is his home, this is his family.
What was your reaction when you first found out about this big twist?
Ooh, well I was very aware when I started. It was one of the reasons they called me Rocky, because he’s meant to be Terry but he’s actually Thomas, and that could get confusing, so they decided on Rocky - much to my amusement, as I couldn’t be further from Rocky!
For me, the hardest thing was keeping it a secret. Friends would go ‘Oh, I love the fact that you’re a father.’ When I initially came in, everyone was like ‘Oh you’re Sonia’s dad!’ You want to go ‘Yeah, you just watch this space!’
It’s a relief that it’s come out; I want everyone to know who he really is, and how the story will unfold. He’s always been charming and fun and nice, but there’s never been anything more than that, so now to get this whirlwind of information as an audience, there’ll be a treat to find out what he’s doing there, why he’s resorted to this, and why this whole thing has gone on for so long.
Rocky is in trouble this week after lashing out at Sonia’s new love interest, Ethan. Why do you think he feels so strongly about Ethan’s behaviour?
He’s very attached now to Sonia; he’s become very much a part of her world for some time now, and he really feels like a fatherly figure, without a doubt. So to see this guy on another date – well, he just snaps, without really thinking that his big secret could, possibly, get out.
Is this the true 'Rocky'? Someone who punches a man and keys his car?
I don’t think so, no. He’s not a million miles away from what everyone sees, but I think as he’s gone on, he’s got deeper and deeper into Sonia’s world, and of course Kathy’s, and he feels very strongly about that. He’s not even thinking when he lashes out. I think he’s a bit of a wheeler dealer. I don’t think he ever resorted to violence. I just think he’s the cheeky, ducking, diving, bobbing, weaving, cocky cockney Rocky. There’s your headline!
We saw a real shift in Rocky’s demeanour tonight. How was it, filming those scenes?
I’ve loved it. It’s much harder to be jolly and bubbly and funny than it is to walk in with a big frown, start shouting and be all tough. For me, turning it on its head was really exciting. I was really chuffed with my scenes with Milly Zero (Dotty). Obviously, we keep it all quiet, even to the crew, so there was a big intake of breath when we shot the scene at the police station where Rocky says his name is Thomas Cotton – there was a big ‘Whoa!’ from all the crew. It was lovely because they didn’t know. They were like ‘You’re not who you say you are!’
What is Rocky and Dotty’s relationship like? So far, she seems quite controlling over him?
Obviously she is much younger, but I think she does have a power over him. She is the one that brought him in, she’s the one that gave him all the information to be able to con Sonia, so he feels very much under her thumb. I feel that he is frustrated with her, and he is frustrated with her manipulating him. He knows that she can dish out the dirt to everyone so for him, it’s like he’s got to play this game but he knows he shouldn’t. He’s in too deep now.
Rocky and Kathy rekindle their romance this week. Is he worried about losing what he has with her?
He’s in love with Kathy, but he’s been lying for so long and he just doesn’t know how to cope with it. He knows that he’s going to hurt her so much, one way or another. It was lovely doing the scenes where we’re finally able to sit next to each other whilst working in a cohort. They’ve been dating for months, but never sat next to each other. Oh, it was so nice!
What do you think the fans’ reaction to this will be?
I just really hope it has come out of left-field for everyone and is a big surprise. That’s what you need in a soap, you need these moments where people go ‘Oh my God.’ I hope that it was an ‘Oh my God’ moment because it was for everyone in the studio that day. He’s related to Nick Cotton!
If you noticed in my very first scene, Rocky comes out of the tube, then he is in Ruby’s club and he’s telling this story, but just behind him is Dotty – I thought that was really good. We’re four months down the line but in his first scene, she was actually standing there. What a wonderful arc!