Coronation Street's Anne Kirkbride Dies Age 60
The iconic actress who has played Deirdre Barlow since 1972 has died tragically following a short illness, she was 60. She has not been in the soap since October after taking an extended leave of absence and rumours had been circulating about her poor health over the weekend.
Coronation Street actress Anne Kirkbride has died aged 60 after a short illness.
A statement on the soap's website said the cast and crew are "heartbroken".
The actress known to millions as Deirdre Barlow was part of the ITV soap for 44 years.
William Roache, who played her onscreen husband Ken Barlow, said: "I feel Anne?s loss so personally having worked closely with her for over 40 years.
"She was such a loving and vibrant person. You always knew she was there because her laugh was never far away.
"She was an impeccable performer with superb comedy timing and an immense gift for really heightened drama.
"We had some rows over the years as Ken and Deirdre and it was wonderful to play those scenes opposite her.
"Coronation Street has lost one of its iconic characters and Anne will be greatly missed."
Kirkbride, born in Oldham, Lancashire, was involved in some of Corrie's most memorable storylines.
In 1998, a public campaign to "Free Deirdre Rachid" made front-page news after viewers pleaded with producers to release her character from prison.
But it is her on-screen relationship with Ken Barlow for which she is best known.
The couple's two weddings drew huge audiences - in 2005 their second nuptials easily pulled in more viewers than Prince Charles' wedding to the Duchess of Cornwall, held the next day.
The show's executive producer, Kieran Roberts, said the cast felt "blessed" to have worked with her.
He added: "There are no words to describe the sense of grief we feel at Anne's passing,"
ITV's Director of Television, Peter Fincham, said Kirkbride had created a "unique and unforgettable character".
Tributes have also been paid by other Corrie stars, and famous names from UK television via Twitter.
Lorraine Kelly tweeted: "So very sad to hear of death of Anne Kirkbride - Thoughts with her husband and family and everyone who loved her. Corrie legend."
So very sad to hear of death of Anne Kirkbride - Thoughts with her husband and family and everyone who loved her. Corrie legend.— Lorraine (@reallorraine) January 19, 2015
Samia Ghadie, who plays Maria in the long-running soap, tweeted: "#RIP to a wonderful unforgettable lady.. Anne Kirkbride . We will miss you so very much x".
#RIP to a wonderful unforgettable lady.. Anne Kirkbride . We will miss you so very much x— Samia Ghadie (@realsamia) January 19, 2015
Les Dennis, who plays Michael Rodwell in the soap, tweeted: "So very sad to hear our lovely Anne Kirkbride has died. One of the true icons of @itvcorrie. We will all miss you. The nations favourite."
So very sad to hear our lovely Anne Kirkbride has died. One of the true icons of @itvcorrie. We will all miss you. The nations favourite.— Les Dennis (@LesDennis) January 19, 2015
Kirkbride is survived by her husband, David, and her brother John.