Memorial service for Anne Kirkbride

The family of Anne Kirkbride and the production team at Coronation Street can confirm a Memorial Service for the actress will take place on Saturday 30 May at Manchester Cathedral.

Cast and crew will celebrate Anne’s life alongside her family and members of the public who would like to pay their respects to the actress who brought so much joy into everyone’s lives as Deirdre Barlow.

Anne’s fellow cast members William Roache and Beverley Callard will be amongst the actors attending the Service with her colleagues from the production team.

The Service will take place from 11.30am.

No further information about the Service will be released until closer to the day.

Farewell Kal

Gym owner Kal Nazir is to bid farewell to the cobbles of Weatherfield in a dramatic storyline later this year.

Kal, played by actor Jimi Mistry, will be at the centre of a huge secret plot twist as we head towards the summer months, which will see him bow out of the show.

Details of the storyline are being kept under wraps but his departure will have a huge impact on his family and Leanne.

Jimi said: "When I was told about this storyline I felt it was a brilliant way to say goodbye to Kal and I am really looking forward to filming my departure scenes.

I have had a fantastic 18 months on Coronation Street but I never saw myself staying around forever, my life is in London and I enjoy playing a variety of roles.

– Jimi Mistry

"I want to thank Stuart and the team for giving me the opportunity to be part of such a fantastic show. This is the longest I have ever been in one job and I have enjoyed it immensely."

Producer Stuart Blackburn said: "Kal’s departure will be a big part of the fantastic spring and summer of drama on Coronation Street.

"We discussed the plot idea with Jimi and we all feel it is a great storyline which will have huge ramifications for the Nazirs and Leanne going forward.

“Jimi is a talented actor and an asset to the show and we will be sorry to see him go, but this is a fantastic exit storyline there are still many twists and turns for the character in the coming months.”

Melanie Hill joins Corrie

Coronation Street favourite Roy Cropper is to get a new friend played by renowned actress Melanie Hill.

Melanie has been cast as Cathy Matthews, the owner of the allotment next to Roy and Sharif’s plot.

Roy and Cathy strike up a friendship through their love of the allotment and he soon discovers she is getting over the death of her husband.

Is this destined to be Roy’s first chance of romance following the death of his beloved Hayley?

Melanie is best known for her roles in Playing the Field, Waterloo Road and the sitcom Bread, more recently she appeared in Cilla playing the scouse singer’s mum ‘Big Cilla’.

Producer Stuart Blackburn said:

"Recently widowed, Cathy is an engaging yet sometimes chaotic woman. Though her indecision can drive her friends mad, behind the vulnerable front is a woman who truly does have a heart of gold."

Gentle, kind and intelligent she has more to offer than she knows and in Roy she'll find a friend who will ultimately bring out the best in her.

– Stuart Blackburn

"We are delighted that Melanie Hill has agreed to join us and take on the role. Familiar I'm sure to our audience, Melanie is an incredible actress who I know will soon propel Cathy to the heart of Coronation Street.”

Melanie Hill said:

"I'm chuffed to bits to be joining the cast of my favourite soap. I and my family grew up watching it and to actually be working on it is a dream come true. "

Farewell Maddie

We can confirm that Amy James-Kelly will leave her role as Maddie Heath this summer.

Amy said: "I made the decision to leave because I'm young and adventurous and I want to gain more experience and explore and improve my craft.

"Acting is my passion and I'm excited to see where it takes me."

I’ve had the most amazing 18 months and I'll be sad to leave my Corrie family.

– Amy James-Kelly

"It's been like a second home," continued Amy, "but like all young people, you eventually fly the nest. I can't thank everyone enough who made this, not only possible, but fantastic."

What's next for Maddie and Sophie?

Stuart Blackburn said: “Amy is a talented young actress and we wish her every success for the future.

"We are currently working on an exit storyline for Maddie which will have repercussions for Sophie and other Weatherfield residents."

Goodbye Julie

Unlucky in love Julie Carp is to bid farewell to Weatherfield after yet another disastrous love affair.

Her relationship with Dev will start to unravel on his return from India - forcing Julie to re-think her life and decide to move away.

Actress Katy Cavanagh has decided to leave Coronation Street at the end of her current contract, she will be on screen until late spring.

Katy said: “I have decided it's time to take a break from the cobbles and pursue other projects and opportunities.

"I have loved every minute in the world of Julie Carp and I'm not ruling out a return to the Street in the future. However I am looking forward to a new challenge and a pair of flat shoes."

Stuart Blackburn said: “Julie Carp has become a warm, wonderful and eccentric character able to raise a laugh and a tear in the same scene.

"Everyone at Corrie wishes Katy all the very best and hopefully as far as Julie is concerned, the cobbles haven't seen the last of her.”

Bethany's Back!

Watch out Weatherfield - Bethany Platt is back and she means trouble!

In this first shot of actress Lucy Fallon on the Corrie set with Helen Worth and Jack P Shepherd, Bethany looks all sweetness and light.

But it soon becomes clear that the teenager is going to cause problems for the already beleaguered Platt family.

Blackpool born Lucy, 19, started filming this week just days after landing the part. This is her first TV role.

Lucy said: “Walking onto the set was surreal and nerve wracking but everyone has been really welcoming and I am thrilled to have been given this great opportunity.”

Lucy meets Sue Nicholls for their first scene together.

Bethany will be on screen in late March when she arrives in Weatherfield from Milan - after a huge fall out with her mum Sarah.

She will be followed a week later by Sarah, played by Tina O’Brien, who is determined to drag her daughter kicking and screaming back to Italy.

Sarah and Beth will end up staying in Weatherfield when things don’t go exactly to plan and in the coming months expect fireworks at number 8 as poor Gail struggles to cope with her family’s secrets and lies.

Anne Kirkbride

It is with great sadness that David Beckett has confirmed tonight that his beloved wife and Coronation Street actress Anne Kirkbride has passed away peacefully in a Manchester hospital after a short illness.

David and the programme's cast and crew are heartbroken and deeply saddened at the loss of Anne who has been a Coronation Street icon for 44 years.

"There are no words to describe the sense of grief we feel at Anne's passing," said Executive Producer Kieran Roberts. "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. We feel blessed and honoured to have known her. Our thoughts are with David and their family."

ITV Director of Television Peter Fincham echoed Kieran's thoughts.

"Anne has been a truly loyal servant to Coronation Street since joining the programme in the early 1970s. She created a unique and unforgettable character in Deirdre Barlow and she'll be greatly missed on and off screen.

"Our sincerest condolences to Anne's husband David and her family at this very sad time."

Coronation Street’s creator Tony Warren captured the feelings of all who knew Anne:

“Anne was very easy to love. Her talent over the years made a massive contribution to Coronation Street.”

William Roache who played Anne’s onscreen husband Ken Barlow said:

“I feel Anne’s loss so personally having worked closely with her for over 40 years. She was such a loving and vibrant person. 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 rows 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.”

Anne is survived by her husband, David, her brother John, and his family.

David has appealed to the media to respect his privacy and that of Anne’s family at this very sad and distressing time.

Anne passed away on Monday evening (19 January) aged 60.