Coronation Street star Anne Kirkbride – who played the part of the “legendary” Deirdre Barlow – has died.
Kirkbride, 60, who starred in the long-running soap for 44 years, died in a Manchester hospital after a short illness.
A statement on the ITV website said her husband David Beckett and the programme’s cast and crew are ‘heartbroken and deeply saddened’.
Coronation Street xxecutive producer Kieran Roberts said: “There are no words to describe the sense of grief we feel at Anne’s passing.
“We know only too acutely how much Anne meant to the millions of people who watched her create the legendary character of Deirdre Barlow.
“She will be greatly missed by the Coronation Street team who share happy memories of working with her.
“We feel blessed and honoured to have known her. Our thoughts are with David and their family.”
The actress announced in September she was taking a three-month break from the show. She was expected to make her long-awaited return to Coronation Street this month.
Anne was previously diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1993, but following successful treatment returned to the soap within 12 months.