The Coronation Street cast – past and present – and production crew are gathering in Manchester for the memorial service of actress Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre in the soap for more than 40 years.

Among those to arrive are Helen Worth, who plays Gail, and former stars Sue Johnston (Gloria) and Michelle Collins (Stella).

The service is taking place at Manchester Cathedral with William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, and Beverley Callard, who plays Liz McDonald, leading the tributes.

Also paying tribute to the much-loved actress, who lost her battle with cancer in January, will be young actress Elle Mulvaney, who plays Amy Barlow, and the soap’s executive producer Kieran Roberts.

Anne’s husband Dave Beckett has been involved in every aspect of the service including the choice of music. Hymns will be performed by the Manchester Cathedral choir.

Photographs of Anne’s life on and off screen will be displayed inside the cathedral, along with an exhibition of some of her own artwork.

Meanwhile, Anne’s on-screen husband William Roache, will read a poem at the service. Talking to Good Morning Britain on Friday, the 83-year-old actor promised that there would be more laughter than tears…

“There was always a laugh waiting from Annie, whatever we were doing,” he said. “The more serious it was, the more likely there was going to be a laugh and tomorrow at her memorial service there’ll be laughter.

“That’s what she wants, she was a fun-loving person, she grabbed life, she loved life.”

William added that although she’s gone, her presence is still very much felt on set…

“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).

“It is a family and doing the funeral that we’re doing of Deirdre next week, Annie will be there, we’re just feeling her there the whole time…”