Ken Barlow will be left facing double heartbreak next week when news hits the Street that Deirdre has died.
Weatherfield returnee Bev Unwin (Susie Blake) will be the one to tell Ken that his wife has passed away. But Ken is to be dealt a further blow when he discovers the reason why Deirdre had been keeping her distance from No 1 Coronation Street in the run-up to her death.
“Ken had been thinking that Deirdre had gone off him or found another man,” says actor William Roache. “But Bev reveals that the reason Deirdre stayed away was because of Tracy’s awful behaviour. She was so embarrassed about Tracy having the affair with Tony and upsetting her best friend Liz.”
The revelation looks set to leave Ken seething with Tracy as the Barlows make preparations for Deirdre’s funeral. “He gets very angry,” admits Roache. “Ken has been deprived of these last months with Deirdre because Tracy misbehaved. So he has this double emotion to deal with – tremendous grief at the loss of Deirdre and colossal anger at Tracy.”
For the cast of Coronation Street, the upcoming scenes where Deirdre is laid to rest will be especially emotional, coming so soon after the death of actress Anne Kirkbride in January.
And for William Roache, it’s the moment when Ken is handed Deirdre’s trademark specs that found fiction blurring with reality. “It’s highly emotive because glasses are personal. They’re very close to the person. But, of course, when I got the glasses, they were also Anne’s.
“Anne had worn those glasses for 20 years, so there was a complete merger for me. There was no Bill and Ken and Deirdre and Anne. It was just one. I felt the loss of both. From an acting point of view. it made it totally simple and believable and very easy to play. From the grieving and sadness point of view, it made it totally real.”
William Roache alongside his late colleague and friend Anne Kirkbride in Coronation Street
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