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Roache tribute to 'beautiful' Anne

Published 29/05/2015

Anne Kirkbride was beautiful but without vanity, said Roache
Anne Kirkbride was beautiful but without vanity, said Roache

Coronation Street veteran William Roache has paid tribute to his "beautiful" on-screen wife Anne Kirkbride ahead of her memorial service tomorrow.

The actor, who has played Ken Barlow in the soap since it began, will be among the cast and crew remembering the actress who portrayed his wife Deirdre at a ceremony at Manchester Cathedral.

He told ITV's Good Morning Britain: " It's very, very strange because we're actually filming the funeral of Deirdre and I had a scene as Ken where I'm given Deirdre's glasses, but of course Annie wore them for 30 years so you certainly don't need any motivation for the acting. We're always on the verge (of tears)."

Roache, who said he felt his co-star's "presence" on the soap set after she died, will give a reading at the service.

He said: " I'm just reading a poem. There's plenty of people who are talking about her, I'm just reading a little poem at the beginning which I think is appropriate to her and I hope she'll like it. I think she will."

Kirkbride, who played the part of Deirdre Barlow for more than 40 years, died in January. She had been away from the soap since September after taking a break from Weatherfield following her diagnosis with cancer.

Roache added: "I saw her the day she died. She died in the evening on the Monday and I went that afternoon and I was warned she'd lost a lot of weight... When I saw her, she'd lost some weight but it had all gone back on to her beautiful bone structure and she looked beautiful, really beautiful and she was a very, very beautiful woman but she had no vanity.

"She wanted to be robust, crude, rude, whatever you wanted, there were no laws or limitations for Annie. She lived life to the full but she was an extraordinary beautiful person inside and out."

Kirkbride was one of the soap's best-known performers and was loved by millions for her portrayal of husky-voiced Deirdre, famed for many years for her oversized spectacles.

She appeared in many colourful storylines over the years, including one of her most memorable soap moments when Deirdre was jailed after being duped into a mortgage fraud by fiance Jon Lindsay.

The storyline even led then-prime minister Tony Blair to give his support to the Free The Weatherfield One movement to get her released.

The actress previously took a break from the soap after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1993.

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