Beloved Coronation Street star Anne Kirkbride has died, aged 60.

The actress passed away peacefully in a Manchester, England hospital on Monday (19Jan15), her husband David Beckett confirmed.

Kirkbride was a Coronation Street veteran, who portrayed Deirdre Barlow on the hit soap for 44 years.

She left the show in October (14), after producers granted her an extended leave of absence.

Executive Producer Kieran Roberts shared his condolences in a statement which reads: "There are no words to describe the sense of grief we feel at Anne's passing. 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."

Co-star William Roache, who played Kirkbride's onscreen husband Ken Barlow, adds, "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."

Kirkbide appeared in an impressive 1,439 episodes of Coronation Street, first appearing on the show in 1972.

Show creator Tony Warren has added to the tributes pouring in for the actress, stating, "Anne was very easy to love. Her talent over the years made a massive contribution to Coronation Street."