Anne Kirkbride, best known as the iconic Deirdre Barlow from the long-running soap Coronation Street has tragically died at the age of sixty. The popular actress had endured a short period of illness before she peacefully passed away while being cared for in a Manchester hospital. The stalwart of the ever-popular ITV programme for forty-two years was a regular and well-loved character and featured in many of the best storylines during her time on the show. She was also known to be a constant source of fun within the Corrie 'family' of actors and actresses, always looking for the amusing side whenever she could and loving the sound of laughter.

Although her surname changed several times during her spell on Corrie (she was married four times in total, twice to Ken Barlow), she was the long time (on-off) husband of the show's longest serving character Ken, played by William Roache, who described her as a "loving and vibrant person" when asked to describe her endearing qualities. Her screen daughter Tracy, played by Kate Ford in adult life took to Twitter to add her condolences at the news by tweeting: "Heartbroken at the loss of my friend and beautiful on screen mummy".

Perhaps her most memorable storyline was the menage a trois between herself, Ken and the likeable rogue and factory owner Mike Baldwin (played so vibrantly by Johnny Briggs).

The "will she / won't she" conundrum gripped the nation's Television viewers during the 1980s as millions tuned into see the outcome.

She began as Deirdre Hunt on the show at the tender age of 17, and as with many of the stars who have entertained the nation in the years since, was only supposed to be a temporary character.

Forty-two years later she was still a firm feature, after the popularity of the character she portrayed so wonderfully well grew over the years. Many fans will have "grown up" with Deirdre from an early age and witnessed her trials and tribulations, no doubt laughing and crying along with her in equal measure, as she has been subjected to marriage, divorce, childbirth, separation, a spell in prison and the rest.

Basically the best and worst that life has to offer.

So close has she become entwined in the nation's psyche through her appearances on the leading soap, that in 1983 an update on the latest situation in the Baldwin-Barlow love struggle was set out on the scoreboard while a football match at Old Trafford was progressing. After her wrongful imprisonment in 1998 (on the show, that is), then-Prime Minister Tony Blair semi-jokingly said that he would review the case and public pressure prompted for her release in the tabloid newspapers.

Although she enjoyed acting, she struggled with the "fame game" in real life and suffered from spells of illness and depression off set. She also had treatment for cancer in 1993 which kept her away from acting for several months.

Her friendship with Roache extended off screen as she provided support to him when he was accused of rape last year.

She leaves behind her real-life husband David Beckett, who she met on the set of Corrie when he played an odd-job man and married in 1992.