It’s going to be an emotional time in Coronation Street over the next few weeks when news of Deirdre Barlow’s death reaches Weatherfield.
On Wednesday, the Barlows are expecting Deirdre to come home after months away with her pal Bev Unwin and have planned a surprise party for her 60th birthday. But they get a big shock when Bev turns up at No. 1 and reveals that the much-loved marrow-stuffer and pottery maker has died.
Following the death of Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre for more than 40 years, earlier this year, the storyline has been carefully plotted out by the show’s producers.
The actress had taken time off the soap at the tail end of 2014, and very few people knew that she was battling breast cancer, so the news of her passing came as shock to the cast, crew and viewers of the soap.
Bill Roache, who plays Ken, has opened up to The Sun newspaper about how he felt while filming the emotional scenes, from the time the tragic news reaches the Street to the funeral, which can be seen in the following week.
“There was no Bill and Ken and Deirdre and Annie – it was just one. I felt the loss of both,” he says. “From an acting point of view, it made it totally simple and totally believable and very easy to play. From the grieving and sadness point of view, it made it totally real.
“It was the only time there is a blurring of the edges between the character and the actor – it was just one, it became complete oneness.”
After Ken hears the news that his wife has died, he is given her glasses to keep in her memory.
“This is highly emotive as glasses are very personal, they’re very close to the person, but of course when I got the glasses, they were also Annie’s,” added Bill. “Annie had worn those glasses for 20 years, so there was a complete merger for me.”