TV & Movies

Coronation Street fans sob as 60th special airs the late Anne Kirkbride's emotional Deirdre Barlow scenes

CORONATION Street fans were left 'sobbing' as ITV took them on a walk down memory lane.

During tonight's special Coronation Street: 60 Unforgettable Years, the cast and show bosses paid tribute to Anne Kirkbride who played the "iconic" Deirdre Barlow.

Deirdre was involved in some of the most talked about storylines in the show's history, one of which even got the show's writers a call from the British Prime Minister.

"She was a beautiful person and actress," remembered actor William Roache who plays Ken Barlow – Deirdre's tumultous ex.

One of the most controversial and memorable storylines involved Deirdre's cheating scandals that saw Ken come to blows with her lover Mike Baldwin.

The affair made national headlines when it aired in 1982 and was a ratings winner for ITV.

Deirdre next got the nation's attention when she was implicated in her boyfriend Jon Linday's scams.

She jailed for 18 months which lead to a national campaign to "Free the Weatherfield" one.

People protested in the streets, holding placards demanding the immediate release of Deirdre.

"'Free the Weatherfield One' was a hashtag and a meme before either of those were actual things," observed one fan on Twitter.

The concern for her went straight to the top as the then Prime Minister Tony Blair called Corrie's writers to get the inside scoop on the storyline.

The writers described themselves as "gobsmacked" that people all over the country were so concerned about Deirdre's welfare.

"It was really nice to know the prime minister wanted to know about the storyline," one of the show's writers said during the special.

The PM said he would order his Home Secretary Jack straw to investigate the issue, while then Conservative Party leader William Hague announced his party's official position was that it was "concerned" about her prison sentence.

"The whole nation is deeply concerned about Deirdre, Conservatives as much as everyone else," he said.

Corrie fans were left in tears at the beautiful tribute and described Deirdre's big moments as "iconic".

One Twitter user wrote: "Hearing bill talk about anne honestly makes me sob."

Another added: "The Free Deirdre campaign was beautiful. So iconic. Beloved Anne Kirkbride at her finest."

And a third said: "Deirdre is so missed. A huge part of Corrie changed when Anne left us."

Anne played Deirdre on Corrie for 42 years until she passed away after battling breast cancer.

Two days after she died, Anne was posthumously awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2015 British Soap Awards.

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