Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Anne Kirkbride

It was quite a weird weekend into the week in regards to Anne Kirkbride, who passed away on Monday.

I had read an article on Saturday or Sunday where the story claimed that Kirkbride was retiring from her role as playing Deirdre Barlow on Coronation Street.

The next morning, I thought I would write a short piece sometime this week about her character being one of the most iconic in the history of the show. I also wanted to explain a reason why I was going to miss the character, so went back to the article. When I clicked on it, the story had changed to something along the lines of 'Show execs deny Anne Kirkbride is retiring', so left it there seeing as there was little point writing about Deirdre if she wasn't going anywhere.

Then, on Monday evening, the news was announced that Kirkbride had passed away earlier that morning.

You've got to imagine what television was like back in the 1970s and 80s when there was at least three television channels. She was part of some huge storylines back then. With all that said, the one that was the most topical - in my eyes - was the time in 1998 when Deirdre was imprisoned for fraud.

I recall walking around Manchester city centre and seeing 'Free Deirdre' t-shirts being sold by street traders. Chuckling to myself, I thought 'Who in their right mind would wear one of those?' In that short walk from my hotel to the Manchester Evening News Arena, I did see one person wearing one!

The Deirdre character - and most importantly Anne Kirkbride's career - shouldn't be defined by that one story, but it sure as hell did capture the attention of a nation. Even right now as I sit here typing this I am still amazed that people did care about the character that much to wear a t-shirt in support.

I was sort of looking forward to Deirdre growing old and becoming like her mother.

In 2009, Maggie Jones - who played Blanche - passed away. Back then, I wrote that she was going to be missed by yours truly because she brought a lot of humour to the show. I had read the scriptwriters were planning for Deirdre to make a subtle transition and become just like her mother with the cutting retorts. It's a shame we won't get that now.

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