The Manchester Evening News have been running a live blog from Anne Kirkbride's memorial service today. Read it all here with some wonderful pictures too.
The MEN have reproduced the readings from the service too. You can read them all here. Here, below, is the reading by Kieran Roberts, executive producer of Coronation Street
"When I was asked to represent the cast, writers and crew of Coronation Street and pay tribute to the unforgettable Anne Kirkbride, my first thought was……How do I begin to do justice to such an extraordinary person?
So, I turned to my colleagues for help and asked if I could share their favourite memories of Anne. In response I received this picture.
This was taken when Anne asked camera assistant Neil Jones to stand – or rather kneel – in for Eccles during a rehearsal. The point is, I can’t think of anyone else who would have asked one of our crew to do this. More importantly, I can’t begin to think of anyone else who could have made it happen.
Before sharing this picture today I asked Neil for his permission to use it and he replied,
“It would be an honour to be included in the memorial to the fantastic Annie Kirkbride.”
I’d like to thank Neil for letting me share this picture and for a response that speaks volumes about the love and respect we all had for Anne. Like Neil I am honoured to be here today, paying tribute to Anne… though I am daunted by the challenge of capturing such a warm, kind-hearted, generous, spirited, talented and fun-loving lady in just a few minutes.
Anne was a very private person so not much was ever written about her in the newspapers and she shunned the bright lights, award ceremonies and glittering premieres. In fact we once asked her if she’d like to attend a prestigious BAFTA ceremony at the lavish Grosvenor House Hotel, and without hesitation she replied “I’d rather stick pins in my eyeballs.” This was a typical riposte, which made us love her all the more, because the Annie we all knew never lost touch with her Oldham roots and remained down to earth with no airs and graces throughout her life.
Born to parents Enid and Jack Kirkbride, a cartoonist for the Oldham Evening Chronicle, Anne was inherently artistic and talented, something which is perfectly demonstrated by her artwork and photography on display in the Cathedral today.
From an early age she also showed a desire to perform. She joined the Saddleworth Junior Players then Oldham Rep Juniors and after leaving Count Hill Grammar School she joined Oldham Rep as an assistant stage manager. Acting roles followed and although Anne was at first reluctant to pursue a career in front of the camera she impressed producers at Granada Television who cast her, aged 18, as Deirdre Hunt. Her first appearance in 1972 was just three lines of dialogue but Anne made it count.
Anne went on to grace our screens for over 42 years and brought so much joy to millions of people with her brilliant, truthful portrayal of Deirdre Hunt – Langton – Rachid - Barlow. Anne was an amazingly gifted and dedicated actor who forged countless brilliant screen partnerships, including with many of the actors here today.
With long-term colleague and friend Bill Roache she created a truly iconic Corrie couple. The ups and downs of Ken and Deirdre’s relationship kept the nation gripped for decades. And in Deirdre Anne created one of the truly great characters not just in the history of Coronation Street but in the history of British television.
Although we were work colleagues, and rarely saw Anne away from the office, we were devoted to her and she to us. She was genuinely one of the most decent and honourable people you could ever wish to meet and she always had time to chat in the corridor or more importantly give you one of her legendary hugs.
I vividly recall one of the last meetings I had with Anne.
I’m supposed to stay professionally detached in meetings with cast but with Anne it was impossible. A discussion of contracts and the like quickly gave way to half an hour chatting about Spain, the conversation punctuated, of course, by those legendary hugs.
Annie had the gift of making everyone feel special around her but in reality she was the special person. She’d walk into a room or onto the Barlow’s living room set with such presence and warmth and left us with so many lovely memories of working with her and being in her company.
She was a consummate professional, always on time, lines learned and asking all the right questions of the directors, producers and ADs. It’s testament to her professionalism as well as her personality that so many of her former colleagues are here today to pay their respects alongside those who worked with her more recently.
Anne was a brilliant dramatic actor and it was no accident that she was at the heart of many of Coronation Street’s biggest and most iconic storylines – even provoking questions in parliament when the Weatherfield One was wrongly imprisoned in 1998. She was an equally gifted comic actor - her dry wit, quirky sense of humour and impeccable timing meant she was a joy to write for and made for the most wonderful delivery of lines such as “I don’t take sides – just think of me as Switzerland in glasses” or, in a row with Tracy, “that kidney’s wasted on you” or “Ken, you are the only person I know who irons a crease in his pullovers! You are not a creature of impulse.”
No better script could have been written for Annie than when in 1990 she met her husband and best friend David Beckett who joined Coronation Street to play Deirdre’s handyman boyfriend, Dave Barton.
We’ve worked closely with Dave, Anne’s brother John, sister-in-law Jacqui and nephews Samedi and Alphin in arranging her Memorial Service today. Although they were her real family on which she doted, Anne will forever be part of Coronation Street’s family.
When David collected Anne’s Outstanding Achievement Award at the recent British Soap Awards, he perfectly captured our thoughts and feelings about Anne. We were the lucky ones because she’d been in our lives.
On behalf of everyone who works at Coronation Street, everyone who worked with Anne during her amazing 42 years with us. And on behalf of the many millions of viewers across the UK and around the world who have followed the programme – and Deirdre - throughout those years….
Annie, we thank you for bringing so much light, laughter and love into all our lives for all those years."
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