William Roache paid an emotional tribute to the legendary Coronation Street actress Anne Kirkbride during last night’s national Television Awards, after she died on Monday aged 60 following a battle with cancer.
William, who played Anne’s on-screen husband Ken Barlow, moved his soap co-stars to tears as he remembered his ‘soulmate’ in a touching speech.
Dermot O’Leary had previously thanked the cast for attending the ceremony at such a tragic and heart-breaking time for them all.
He said: “I know you are all a tight family and you’re going through a difficult time so on behalf of everyone, we’re delighted that you are here tonight.”
Taking to the stage to remember his on-screen wife, William said: “For over 40 years our dear friend Anne Kirkbride played the part of Deirdre and became one of the best-loved and most enduring characters on British television. With her husky voice and trademark spectacles the nation took Deirdre to their hearts.
“As the characters Ken and Deirdre we felt we’d met our soulmates and no matter what was thrown at us, Deirdre’s wrongful imprisonment and the compelling love triangle with Mike Baldwin, we always found one another together.
“The nation seemed to want us together and I feel so blessed, honoured and privileged to have had those years working with Anne.
“What we’ll remember the most is the vibrant, warm-hearted and loving person who came to work each day, gave us all a hug and brightened up our lives.
“In real life the programme brought Anne and her husband David together when he joined Coronation Street to play the character of Dave Barton and he’s lovingly and loyally been at Anne’s side since they were married in 1992.
“Together with Anne’s brother Grant and his family, David and her Coronation Street family – and especially Beverley Callard who was very close to Anne in her last days – we’ve been deeply touched by the outpouring of love for Anne since she passed away on Monday evening.
“We share your grief and sadness at losing such a beautiful person who’ll be so greatly missed by us all. I love you Anne. Thank you.”
The cast were moved by William’s wonderful speech, with Kym Marsh openly sobbing as she remembered Anne.
The rest of the audience also paid tribute with a minute-long standing ovation, although this was not shown on TV much to the disgust of many viewers, with ITV deciding to cut to an ad break instead.
Earlier in the evening, the Corrie stars had, understandably, chosen not to walk the red carpet, instead entering the awards through a separate entrance.
Emmerdale’s Matthew Wolfenden explained: “None of the Corrie cast are hanging out, they are sneaking in and sneaking out, out of respect for Anne.”
His co-star Fiona Wade said: “It’s really sad, she was a soap veteran. Tonight we are going to be with the Corrie cast.”
The EastEnders cast also paid tribute to Anne when they won Best Serial Drama, with Adam Woodyatt saying: “This is for Coronation Street and this is for the Weatherfield One.”
Earlier in the week, the cast were sent home from the set as they were too upset to film following the tragic news.
Thank you for the touching tribute, William.
Our thoughts and love are with the Corrie cast, as well as Anne’s family and friends.
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