Anne Kirkbride | 1954 – 2015

After such shocking news that broke on Monday night that the Coronation Street star, Anne Kirkbride had passed away, I want to pay a small, but fitting tribute to Anne for the legacy she has left behind by taking a look back on her life as it unfolded.

Anne Kirkbride (21st June 1954 – 19th January 2015)

Born on the 21st June 1954, Anne Kirkbride was very well known for her long-running role as Deirdre Barlow in the ITV Studios TV Programme, Coronation Street (a.k.a. Corrie), which she had starred in for 42 years, from 1972 to 2014.

Early Life

Born in Oldham, in Lancashire, Anne Kirkbride was the daughter of Jack Kirkbride, who was a cartoonist for the Oldham Evening Chronicle. Anne attended the Counthill Grammar School in Oldham, and then she went on to join Oldham Repertory Theatre as an assistant stage manager, before going on to progress to acting roles.

Anne’s Career

Anne Kirkbride was first noticed by the casting directors for the British Soap Opera, Coronation Street, when she acted in a Jack Rosenthal play, titled: “Another Sunday and Sweet F.A.” (1972) for Granada Television. She was picked to play the part for Deirdre Hunt in Coronation Street from November 1972 onwards. Her character’s role grew, and after making further appearances more frequently in 1973, Anne Kirkbride signed a contract with the serial in 1974. From that moment on, the character, Deirdre Barlow (previously known as Deirdre Hunt) would go on to become famous for her very large spectacles and also her husky voice (a result of Kirkbride’s own contributory form of chain smoking).

On the 29th September 2014, it was announced that Anne Kirkbride would have a three month break from the show, and prior to her death, she had never filmed her official last scenes, which would make her final scenes as the ones that aired on the 8th October 2014.

Other TV Appearances

In 1998, Anne Kirkbride ran away on the TV Show: “This is Your Life” during the same time that she was battling a form of severe depression, and in 2013, Anne Kirkbride had completed her documentary, which was entitled as: “Deirdre & Me“, a 1 hour special that would celebrate her 40th year of playing the role of Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street. In 2007, Anne Kirkbride starred in the first episode of You Don’t Know You’re Born, which was a genealogy documentary that had aired on ITV 1.

Personal Life

In 1993, Anne Kirkbride was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She had spoke to the British Press about her bout of depression, following the diagnosis of the disease. Within a year of being diagnosed with the disease, she was cured. She married the former actor, David Beckett, in 1992. Both Anne & David met on the set of Coronation Street, when Beckett had joined the cast as her character, Deirdre Barlow’s boyfriend.

Sudden Death

The news on Monday came, as it was announced on the internet and also the major news networks that Anne Kirkbride had succumbed to breast cancer. She died in a Manchester hospital on Monday 19th January 2015, at the age of 60. At the 20th National Television Awards on Wednesday, held just two days after Anne Kirkbride’s death, her on-screen partner and close friend, William Roache, from Coronation Street, paid tribute to Anne during the ceremony.

Not a dry eye was in sight for the whole of the Corrie cast, and the actor, Adam Woodyatt (famously known for playing Ian Beale), dedicated the award that EastEnders had won to Anne Kirkbride, referring to her as: “the Weatherfield one”, referencing a Coronation Street storyline that saw Anne Kirkbride’s on-screen character, Deirdre Barlow, being wrongly jailed for fraud.

I must admit, even I was shocked about her death, because the news of her death was so sudden, and unexpected, that it took a few seconds for the news of Anne Kirkbride’s death to sink in. The irony to this was that I was talking about her hours before and also the day before her death, because I talked about the news articles that some of the newspaper websites put up about her possibly quitting Coronation Street, but, to hear that she died so suddenly, I was absolutely shocked.

Although she may be gone, Anne Kirkbride will never be forgotten for the legacy she has left behind, and she will always be remembered for the good and happy memories that she has left behind, especially those whose hearts she has touched. We will never forget you Anne, you will be missed dearly, but you will never be forgotten. We will always remember you for the wonderful legacy that you have left behind, and also for the happy memories that you have made along the way. We will never forget you Anne Kirkbride.

Alex Smithson

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