It's been exactly a year since Anne Kirkbride passed away and her Coronation Street co-star Bill Roache, who played her on-screen husband, is remembering his colleague with fondness. Speaking from the famous cobbles, Will, 83, opened up about the last time he saw his friend, on the morning of her death.
Anne had taken a sabbatical, during which time she was fighting breast cancer. She died at the age of 60 in Manchester on 19 January 2015.
"We knew she was on leave and we thought she was just resting and that she'd be coming back," said Bill on This Morning. "And then we got the news that she was seriously ill on the Friday and I went to see her on the Monday. I was warned that she'd lost a lot of weight and wasn't looking too good but actually, she looked truly beautiful."
"I was warned that she wasn't looking too good but actually, she looked truly beautiful," said Bill Roache
"She had great bone structure and she was lying there," he said. "She was very sedated and I just talked to her about a few things. Talking about her angels and things like that, and said how much we loved her. And then I left… and she died that night. It was a shock to us all. We didn't realise how ill she was."
Naturally, returning to work after Anne's death was "the worst moment" for Bill. The pair had played on-screen husband and wife for decades. Anne's character Deirdre Barlow was killed off shortly after the actress passed away.
The pair played long-term married couple Ken and Deirdre Barlow for decades
"The worse moment for me was the first time on set after she had died," said Bill. "On the set of course there are photographs of her, and not only that, I've got so many memories of the big rows and arguments mainly we had there. And her presence, she had a very loving presence and was a very loving person. So that really hit me quite hard for a while."
A special memorial service was held for Anne in May, four months after her death.
Anne died of breast cancer at the age of 60
Speaking outside Manchester Cathedral at the time, Bill, who attended with his co-stars Brooke Vincent and Michael Le Vell among others, said: "It's very, very strange because we're actually filming the funeral of Deirdre and I had a scene as Ken where I'm given Deirdre's glasses but of course Annie wore them for 30 years, so you certainly don't need any motivation for the acting."