Coronation Street to bid teary farewell as Deirdre Barlow's funeral to be shown tonight
The funeral of one of Coronation Street's longest-serving characters, Deirdre Barlow, will be shown on the soap tonight.
Actress Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre for 42 years, died in January aged 60.
She had been off screen for four months after taking a break following her diagnosis with cancer. The character's absence was explained with a visit to a friend.
Last week, as her fictional family prepared to welcome Deirdre back with a party to celebrate her 60th birthday, her friend Bev Unwin arrived at their home with news of her peaceful death that afternoon from a suspected aneurysm as she sat in a deck chair in the garden.
Many fans tweeted that they were left in tears after watching Kirkbride's fellow cast members, including William Roache (who plays Deirdre's husband Ken Barlow) and Eileen Derbyshire (Emily Bishop) break down on screen.
Beverley Callard, who plays Deirdre's best friend Liz McDonald, was a close friend of Kirkbride in real life and was with her during her final hours.
It fell to Callard, in her role as Rovers Return landlady, to pass on the news of Deirdre's on-screen death to the rest of the street's fictional residents who had gathered in the pub for her birthday celebrations.
An emotional trailer for tonight's double episode on ITV was unveiled a couple of days ago.
Kirkbride was one of the soap's best-know 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 she 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.