EastEnders wins as Kirkbride hailed
Coronation Street legend Anne Kirkbride was remembered tonight as rival soap EastEnders swept the board at a glitzy showbusiness bash.
Kirkbride, who played Deirdre Barlow for more than four decades until her death in January, was honoured with the outstanding achievement gong at the British Soap Awards.
William Roache, who played her on-screen husband Ken Barlow, presented the award along with Beverley Callard to her husband David Beckett.
Roache told the audience his long-time co-star "was a wonderful, natural, instinctive actress who devoted her career to Coronation Street".
He said: "She could make you laugh and make you cry in equal measure though she preferred to make you laugh."
Paying tribute, he said "love and warmth shone through" her character and that she was "as much a part of the street as the cobbles themselves".
Mr Beckett, who was given a standing ovation as he collected the award, said: "On behalf of Annie, thank you.
"On behalf of her family, her friends, her co-workers, we were the lucky ones, we knew you. Thanks Annie."
The event also included a tribute to EastEnders star John Bardon, who played Jim Branning, who died last year.
EastEnders was the big winner on the night and was named best soap after its 30th anniversary year culminated in a live episode revealing who murdered Lucy Beale.
It won eight awards with Adam Woodyatt, who plays Lucy's father Ian, named best actor and Kellie Bright, who plays Queen Vic landlady Linda Carter, named best actress.
She also scooped the award for best dramatic performance which was presented to her by the pub's first landlady Anita Dobson.
The search for Lucy's killer was named best storyline and the soap's live episode was named best single episode.
Woodyatt and his soap wife Laurie Brett, who plays Jane, were named best on-screen partnership at the ceremony at Manchester's Palace Theatre.
Other winners include Hollyoaks star Jeremy Sheffield, who won best villain for his portrayal of Patrick Blake, while Emmerdale actress Amelia Flanagan, who plays April Windsor, won the best young performance award.
The rural soap also picked up the scene of the year award for Donna's Goodbye while Coronation Street's Sally Dynevor, who plays Sally Webster, won the best comedy performance award. Verity Rushworth, who played Donna, dedicated her win to Kirkbride.