Corrie Roache's moving tribute to 'beautiful' Anne
Coronation Street veteran William Roache has paid tribute to his "beautiful" on-screen wife Anne Kirkbride ahead of her memorial service today.
The actor, who has played Ken Barlow in the soap since it began, will be among the cast and crew remembering the actress who portrayed his wife Deirdre at a ceremony in Manchester Cathedral.
"It's very strange because we're 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. We're always on the verge of tears," he told ITV's Good Morning Britain.
Roache, who said he felt his co-star's "presence" on the soap set after she died, will give a reading at the service.
"I'm just reading a poem," he said. "There's plenty of people who are talking about her, I'm just reading a little poem at the beginning which I think is appropriate to her and I hope she'll like it."
Kirkbride, who played Deirdre for more than 40 years, died in January. She had been away from the soap since last September after taking a break from Weatherfield following her diagnosis with cancer.
"I saw her the day she died," said Roache.
"She died in the evening on the Monday and I went that afternoon and I was warned she'd lost a lot of weight.
"When I saw her, she'd lost some weight but it had all gone back on to her beautiful bone structure and she looked beautiful, really beautiful and she was a very, very beautiful woman.
"She wanted to be robust, crude, rude, whatever you wanted - there were no laws or limitations for Annie. She lived life to the full, but she was an extraordinary beautiful person inside and out."
Kirkbride was one of the soap's best-known performers and was loved by millions for her portrayal of husky-voiced Deirdre, famed for many years for her over-sized spectacles.
She appeared in many colourful storylines over the years, including one of her most memorable soap moments when Deirdre was jailed after being duped into a mortgage fraud by fiance Jon Lindsay.