Saturday 24 March 2018

Tears as Deirdre laid to rest

Anne Kirkbride, as Deirdre Barlow, one of Coronation Street's longest-running characters
Anne Kirkbride, as Deirdre Barlow, one of Coronation Street's longest-running characters

Coronation Street stalwart William Roache left viewers in tears as he said "goodbye my love" to his on-screen wife and his off-screen friend.

Actress Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre Barlow for 42 years, died in January aged 60 and Deirdre herself was killed off by a sudden aneurysm last week.

Viewers said tonight's e motional funeral scenes left them in tears or with goosebumps as many speculated that the actors' tears were genuine.

There was particular praise for Roache who has played Ken Barlow since the show's first episode in 1960.

The character's touching eulogy for his late wife - which ended with the words "goodbye my love" and his tearful farewell at her graveside prompted praise from viewers and colleagues. Sally Ann Matthews, who plays Jenny Bradley, tweeted: "Bill Roache is fantastic tonight".

Some fans complained that the episodes should have concentrated solely on the farewell to Deirdre rather than including other storylines but others praised the mix of "light and shade" and comments on twitter were largely positive about Deirdre's send-off.

Damon Rochefort said he was "very honoured" to have written both episodes as "the Street says its final goodbye to Deirdre".

Samia Ghadie, who plays Maria in the soap, said: "Well done Damon.. U did Deirdre and Annie proud xx."

Sue Cleaver, the street's Eileen Grimshaw, ‏tweeted photos of what she called "Eileen & Deirdre moments", adding: "We will miss you, Deirdre. Goodnight my love."

Kirkbride was one of the soap's best-known 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.

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.

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.

She tweeted: " Thank you so much for all your amazing messages. Annie was one in a million, so was Deirdre! Never to be forgotten!"

Press Association

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