Inside Corrie icon Anne Kirkbride’s tumultuous life and tragic death from cancer

Actress Anne Kirkbride who was best known for playing the role of Deirdre Barlow in ITV's Coronation Street, sadly passed away on January 19, 2015 after contracting breast cancer.

The star, who would have been 66 years old today, was a much loved character in the Mancunian based soap and was a part of the programme for 42 years.

Kirkbride's character had several hard hitting and entertaining storylines throughout her time on the cobbles.

Notoriously married to Ken Barlow played by actor William Roache, the couple portrayed relationship turbulence and couple goals all at the same time – but despite the affairs and previous divorce the couple remained together.

Though she lived a dramatic life as Deidre and appeared confident on screen, the star was uncomfortable with fame and struggled with illness and depression away from the cameras.

Although she married her actor husband David Beckett in 1992 after meeting on the street, Kirkbride lived a very private life.

So Daily Star have taken a look inside Coronation Street legend Anne Kirkbride’s life and tragic death.

Early Life

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Anne Kirkbride was born in Oldham, Lancashire on 21 June 1954 and was the daughter of English cartoonist Jack Kirkbride.

The actress attended Counthill Grammar School located in Oldham but she soon discovered she had a passion for acting.

Later on, Kirkbride joined Oldham Repertory Theatre where she worked as an assistant stage manager.

Soon after, the young star went on to play small theatre roles but at the age of 17, Kirkbride was noticed by casting directors for the British soap opera Coronation Street.

Kirkbride was only supposed to appear on the show for one episode but went on to play the role for 42 years.

In her first episode, Kirkbride played a customer in the Rovers Return, and she later returned as builder Ray Langton's feisty secretary who later became her one of her on screen husbands.

Dramatic storylines

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Kirkbride's character Deidre led a life filled with chaos, controversy and comedy and was the centre of several nail biting storyline s throughout the years.

Deidre was known to fans for her recognisable trademark glasses, her love for cigarette smoking and her all round likeable nature.

Over the years Coronation Street fans became fixated with Deidre and her fascinating life.

Viewers became heavily invested in the characters trials and tribulations and her crazy love triangle with Ken and Mike in 1983.

And who can forget when she was wrongfully imprisoned in 1998 for fraud.

The storyline captivated the nation and even led the then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to joke that he would review the case after newspapers plastered "Free Deirdre" on their front pages.

Deidre was married four times in the programme but will be remembered most by fans for her relationship with Ken.

Depression and breast cancer

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At the age of 39, Kirkbride found a lump on her neck on the day of her mother's funeral in 1993.

The lump ended up being a non-Hodgkins lymphoma which is a form of cancer.

Kirkbride removed herself from the soap for several months in order to regain better health. The cancer was treated at the time and the star received the all clear from medical professionals.

Despite being cured within a year of being diagnosed, Kirkbride later expressed to the press that depression afflicted her in subsequent years.

Talking about it openly, the actress explained: "It was worse than the cancer in a way, because that was going to be over.

"I knew that was bad, but I knew at the end of it I was going to be better. But this, this was just so frightening."

Later on in life, Kirkbride contracted breast cancer and took three months off from the show in order to try and get better.

Alcoholism

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In 2016, on screen husband Bill Roache revealed that Kirkbride was an alcoholic and claimed the late star battled alcoholism for decades.

However, her real life husband refuted the claims and said his wife hadn't had a drop of alcohol for "30 years".

But speaking candidly at the Royal Television Society Awards, Bill contradicted this and said: "What happened to Anne was….she was was an alcoholic.

"She was on drugs for depression. She had been an alcoholic but she was off the drink.

He continued: "She was on anti depressant drugs all her life and then she just started crying a lot and I spent half my life sort of comforting her and getting her back on track.

"That got a bit worse and we were holding up scenes because she was being weepy and wailing.

"We just thought her medication was not working as you get older and your body changes."

Tragic death

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Anne Kirkbride died aged 60 peacefully at a hospital located in Manchester after her breast cancer metastasised to her brain.

At the time, the star was rushed to hospital due to suffering from a stroke.

Medics later informed her family that she only had 24 hours left to live.

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Providing a statement at the time Coronation Street executive producer Kieran Roberts said: "There are no words to describe the sense of grief we feel at Anne's passing. We know only too acutely how much Anne meant to the millions of people who watched her create the legendary character of Deirdre Barlow.

"She will be greatly missed by the Coronation Street team who share happy memories of working with her.

"We feel blessed and honoured to have known her. Our thoughts are with David and their family."

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