MANCHESTER, England, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Friends and costars are publicly morning after the sudden death British soap opera star Anne Kirkbride.
The 60-year-old actress is best known as Deirdre Barlow on the ITV soap opera Coronation Street, a role she played for 42 years.
"I feel Anne's loss so personally having worked closely with her for over 40 years," co-star William Roache said in a statement. Roach played Kirkbride's first husband on Coronation Street.
"You always knew she was there because her laugh was never far away. She was an impeccable performer with superb comedy timing and an immense gift for really heightened drama. We had some [fights] over the years as Ken and Deirdre and it was wonderful to play those scenes opposite her. Coronation Street has lost one of its iconic characters and Anne will be greatly missed."
Kirkbride went on leave from the soap in September for personal reasons and was expected to return shortly. She died in a Manchester hospital after what ITV describes as a "short illness," believed to be cancer according to The Telegraph.
"There are no words to describe the sense of grief we feel at Anne's passing," Coronation Street producer Kieran Roberts said, reports BBC News.
"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," Roberts said.