William Roache has paid tribute to his late co-star Anne Kirkbride. The Coronation Street actress passed away on Monday aged 60, after suffering from a short illness.
Anne, who played Deirdre Barlow, starred on the ITV soap for more than four decades, with fans recognising her for her oversized glasses, husky voice and big heart.
Speaking on This Morning the day after Anne's death, William – who played the star's on-screen husband Ken Barlow – gave an emotional interview.
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William Roache on his co-star Anne Kirkbride: 'I loved her dearly and she loved me'
"We were fully expecting her to be back and with us [on the Street], so it's been a dreadful shock," said William, 82. "There's a great sense of personal loss. Annie radiated such love.
"[The public] will also feel a great sense of personal loss – we've also lost an iconic Coronation Street character, so it's a double loss for us."
William's character Ken went through ups and downs with Deirdre, with the pair's storylines hitting national headlines on more than one occasion. The couple split and then re-married in the series, after Deirdre cheated on Ken with factory owner Mike Baldwin.
Anne Kirkbride passed away at the age of 60 after a short illness
Despite the scenes of shouting and crying the cast had to act out, William assured that life on set was always full of joy with Anne around.
"You always knew when you were in her presence – laughter was always near," he said. "She was full of fun, a wonderful person… we all loved her and will really, really miss her.
"Whether we were together or not, Ken and Deirdre were soul mates. I loved her dearly and she loved me, and I respected her as an actress tremendously."
Anne Kirkbride and William Roache played on-screen couple Deirdre and Ken Barlow
The Coronation Street cast and crew went into work the morning Anne's death, but within half an hour, they called it a day.
"We all wanted to come in and work today, that was the feeling we all had in our hearts but when we got here, we couldn't do it," said William. "When I walked on to the set, you could just feel Annie's presence.
She was always a joyful loving presence and we just couldn't work, so today is a day of tributes to a really, really beautiful person – a wonderful colleague and a great actress."
Executive producer Kieran Roberts added that the series would go on "for Annie", but that Tuesday would be a day of reflection on the late star.