EastEnders waved goodbye to one of its popular characters on Friday night after Abi Branning had her life support machine switched off.

Albert Square was a sombre sight as the character, played by actress Lorna Fitzgerald, passed away following a tragic fall from the roof of the Queen Vic pub on Christmas Day.

Mother Tanya Branning (Jo Joyner) returned for the emotional episode where she accused her ex-husband, Max Branning (Jake Wood) of killing their daughter.

Also gathered at the hospital were Abi’s step-grandmother, Dot Branning, as well as sister Lauren who survived the Christmas Day accident as the siblings plummeted together.

Her life support was eventually switched off at 8.32pm on the show – the same time Abi was born – with other characters raising a glass to her in the Queen Vic.

Fans were heartbroken by the episode which ended in silence without the trademark theme tune.

@LuceValentine1 posted on Twitter: “#EastEnders was so heartbreaking tonight… Abi has been in the soap since she was a little girl and without the actress changing. I liked that they had no sound at the end too just made her last scenes more special…. RIP Abi Branning.”

@IamBethrose tweeted: “What a heartbreaking but wonderful way to say goodbye to @LornaFitz0! I was in tears all the way through. Phenomenal performances from @mrjakedwood, @jacquelineMjos and @dollyjoyner as per usual.”

@LeeGibson_ wrote: “Eastenders was so emotional. Rip Abi.”

@RebeccaParfit tweeted: “As annoying as Abi could be, I have genuinely bawled at tonight’s episode. She’s been in the program a long time and her character will be missed. Very sad to watch.”

@KSC_Ltd posted: “Awww so Abi was born at 8:32 and she’ll die at 8:32.”

Joyner also paid tribute to actress Fitzgerald, tweeting: “Night, Night and God Bless little Abs. Thanks for all the lovely support for us #brannings Good luck and see you soon wonderful, talented, beautiful @LornaFitz0 it’s been a pleasure being your pretend mummy.”