PICTURE TRIBUTE to the Coronation Street star

Anne Kirkbride’s death at the age of 60 has left a nation in mourning.

The actress played one of Coronation Street’s best-loved characters, Deirdre Barlow, for 42 years and touched us all with her ability to make us laugh, cry and cheer Deirdre on through all her ups and downs.

Anne was born in Oldham and got her big break by chance after a one-off appearance in a TV drama led to her being spotted by Corrie bosses. She landed the minor role of Deirdre Hunt in 1972 (pictured here) but it soon grew and she became a regular face on the cobbles.

Famed for her large glasses and husky voice, Deirdre became an iconic character and went through an awful lot over the years. Her love triangle with Ken Barlow and Mike Baldwin and her infamous spell in prison were two of the most memorable storylines that had viewers gripped.

More than 24 million viewers watched her first wedding to Ken in 1981 and the whole country seemed to be in uproar at Deirdre’s wrongful imprisonment for fraud in 1998, prompting the ‘Free the Weatherfield One’ campaign.

Anne always had us rooting for Deirdre through her four marriages, tumultuous relationships and continued battles with conniving daughter Tracey.

In real life the actress was a much quieter person. She met husband David Beckett in 1991 after he played one of Deirdre’s love interests in the soap.

But Anne also had her difficult times. After discovering a lump on her neck on the day of her mother’s funeral in 1993, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and took time out from Corrie to have treatment.

Anne got the all-clear but went on to battle depression, something she openly described as ‘frightening’.

Deirdre made her last appearance in October 2014 in emotional scenes that saw her lose her temper following the stress of stepson Peter Barlow’s trial for murder. It was soon announced that Anne would be taking a break from the soap.

Just a few months later in January 2015 she sadly passed away from a short illness before she could return.

There’s no doubt that Deirdre, who appeared in 1, 439 episodes of Corrie, will remain one of the soap’s most cherished characters. Anne will be greatly missed by the millions of viewers who watched her on TV every week for so many years.