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Corrie's Bill Roache tells of last words to dying co-star Anne Kirkbride

Coronation Street star Bill Roache has spoken of his last words to his beloved screen wife Anne Kirkbride hours before she died of cancer.

He told Kirkbride, 60, who played Deirdre Barlow for 42 years in the ITV soap, that she would be "going to a beautiful place".

The 83-year-old actor, who has played Ken Barlow since 1974, told the Daily Mirror: "I talked to Annie, I held her hand and said goodbye. She looked really peaceful and really, really beautiful.

"I said, 'Goodbye Annie, you know you're going to a beautiful place'."

He was speaking ahead of the first anniversary of Kirbride's death in a Manchester hospital on January 19.

He told the Daily Mirror: "I was always talking to her about angels. Everyone has a guardian angel and she had two, of course, being Annie.

"I said, 'Go on, you'll be in a lovely place now, everything will be much happier, lots and lots of love'.

"There was a little movement in Annie's hand when I spoke to her, she was unconscious but whether she took things in on a different level, I don't know. I would have been mortified if I'd missed her."

Kirkbride, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, had also suffered a stroke.

Producers had given Kirkbride a three-month break from the show and Roache had assumed that she would return.

He described it as "a blessing" knowing that she passed away "so quickly" but said it had been "a big shock" when he learned that she was dying.

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