Anne Kirkbride, who played Coronation Street’s Deirdre Barlow for over 40 years, has sadly died after suffering a short illness.
Her husband David Beckett announced the news last night (Monday), confirming that his beloved wife had passed away peacefully at a Manchester hospital.
The Sun reports that she suffered breast cancer, which sadly spread to her brain, but her family will not be commenting on the cause of death.
Tributes are continuing to pour in for the Corrie icon, who played the notorious Dierdre Barlow for 44 years.
Coronation Street’s official Twitter page spoke of their “great sadness” at the sad news, also releasing a statement which read: “It is with great sadness that David Beckett has confirmed tonight that his beloved wife and Coronation Street actress Anne Kirkbride has passed away peacefully in a Manchester hospital after a short illness.
“David and the programme’s cast and crew are heartbroken and deeply saddened at the loss of Anne who has been a Coronation Street icon for 44 years.”
Executive Producer Kieran Roberts added: “There are no words to describe the sense of grief we feel at Anne’s passing. We know only too acutely how much Anne meant to the millions of people who watched her create the legendary character of Deirdre Barlow.
“She will be greatly missed by the Coronation Street team who share happy memories of working with her. We feel blessed and honoured to have known her. Our thoughts are with David and their family.”
Tony Warren, creator of the much-loved soap, also added his thoughts: “Anne was very easy to love. Her talent over the years made a massive contribution to Coronation Street.”
Anne had been a part of the soap since 1972, and had been on a break since last September after “personal reasons.”
There had been talk that she was looking to quit the soap when she didn’t return as planned, although this was denied by producers. She was, however, granted indefinite leave.
William Roache, who played her onscreen husband Ken Barlow spoke of his heartbreak after hearing the devastating news, saying: “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.
Liz Dawn, who played Vera Duckworth on the soap, added: “It’s like the heart of the show has been ripped out because she was so well loved by the cast and crew and by the millions of viewers who watched it.
“She was so lovely and I feel so sad. I’m so shocked because she had previously beaten illness and she showed such courage and spirit.
“I didn’t realise she was ill, it was such a shock to hear that another illness has come and taken her away at such a young age.
“After going through so much, I’m so shocked to find that something else has come and taken her away from us.”