Tag Archives: Manchester


Anne Kirkbride: Goodbye To A TV Legend


The country is still reeling from the shock death of Coronation Street legend Anne Kirkbride this week from cancer. The sixty year old actress had graced our screens for more than forty years as Deirdre Barlow and many of us have grown up with this iconic character.


Last weekend, I read an article in which Anne was considering extending her leave from the top Manchester soap due to exhaustion. She had made her last Corrie appearance  last October, and it was even hinted that Anne was growing tired of playing Deirdre. So the next day when I read the first part of a  headline in which William Roach, who played Anne’s on-screen husband Ken Barlow, talking about Coronation Street having lost a legend, for a split second I assumed that Anne had quit the role that had made her a household name. I then went on to learn the incredibly sad news that Anne had passed away. The news had come as a great shock, not only to viewers but to many of the Oldham-born actress’s co-stars, as very few knew that she was ill. At the time of her death very little was revealed regarding the details of her illness.

Deirdre and Ken marry for the first time

Deirdre and Ken marry for the first time


My earliest memories of Coronation Street also include my earliest memories of Deirdre. My mum was a huge Corrie fan and back then, the nation was gripped by the Ken-Deirdre-Mike love triangle. I was obviously too young to understand what was going on but I did know that the lady called Deirdre had been very naughty. She’d done something bad with a man called Mike and now her husband Ken was very angry with both of them. I even remember the incredibly touching moment when Deirdre revealed that she didn’t want to leave Ken for Mike or go to live with her mother – and Ken forgave her and took her back. Years later when I was a little older, I thought that Deirdre probably should have chosen Mike as he was more exciting but what did I know? It would never have worked with Mike, and Deirdre without Ken is like fish without chips!

Those glasses!

Those glasses!


And over the years, Deirdre definitely became on of my favourite characters. She was a good mum to her daughter Tracy – well maybe a little too good as Tracy could have done with a slap from time to time – and I really did enjoy Deirdre’s scenes with her mother, Blanche. I even understood that Ken and Deirdre belonged together and was very angry with Ken when he cheated on Deirdre with that awful Wendy Crozier (even though Deirdre had been unfaithful first!) I was also very disappointed when Ken had a child with Denise Osbourne and in Deirdre’s marriage to Samir Raschid as I felt that this was hindering Ken and Deirdre’s inevitable reunion. But reunite they did, and the nation went crazy when the Barlows remarried in 2005 – a wedding that attracted more viewers than Prince Charles’s wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles.

The wedding that attracted 12 million viewers

The wedding that attracted 12 million viewers


Anne also met her real-life husband on the show, actor David Beckett, when he appeared in Coronation Street playing Dave Barton in 1990. Love blossomed for him and Anne and the couple went on to marry in 1992. In an industry where marriages are not known to last, David has been described as a devoted husband who was with Anne until the very end. Anne had previously said of her beloved husband:

  “It’s thanks to Corrie that I met my wonderful David. I wouldn’t be without him. He adores me and I adore him. What else do you need?”

Anne marries co-star David Beckett

Anne marries co-star David Beckett

The popularity of Deirdre Barlow is testament to Anne Kirkbride’s talent as an actress and her ability to breathe life into a character that has gone on to become a British television icon. After news of Anne’s death broke, tributes came flooding in from fans and the world of entertainment including Anne’s colleagues who regarded her as a much-loved friend. Her co-stars were so devastated by her loss that filming had to be cancelled for a day. A few days later at the National Television Awards, William Roache paid an emotional tribute to his friend and colleague to whom he had shared such a close working relationship, causing many people present, especially the Coronation Street cast and crew, to become quite tearful.

Deirdre Barlow was known for her husky voice, and at one time, overly permed hair. But as we all know, Deirdre’s trademark were of course those oversize glasses that she was never without. Along with those facial expressions that Deirdre used to pull whenever she got upset, and the words “Tracy love,” which seem to have become her catchphrase, Deirdre Barlow was an impressionists dream come true. But far from being the butt of jokes, Deirdre Barlow has become one of television’s most enduring characters, and Anne Kirkbride one of our best-loved actresses. She was part of our family entertainment for so long. Coronation Street will never be the same without her.


Rest in peace, Anne xx




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Posted by on January 24, 2015 in Gone Too Soon


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Comfort Food #5: Eccles Cake – The Cake That’s Not Really A Cake!

Despite the fact that I’ve always had a weird love-hate relationship with ‘dried grapes’ i.e. sultanas, raisins and currants, I’ve always had a liking for Eccles cakes. My mum bought one for me from the bakery as an after school treat when I was very young and I thought they were yummy. Eccles cakes are still readily available but for some reason, I stopped eating them and I don’t think I ever scoffed an Eccles cake in adulthood. Until last week, that is, when my lovely aunt bought me one to take to school (I’m now a teacher but my aunt thinks I’m still five!)


“Hmm…,” I thought, “I wonder if these are still as good as they used to be.”

And they were! They tasted amazingly good and every bit as tasty as I remembered; I was so annoyed with myself for missing out all these years. Eccles cakes originate from the town of – wait for it – Eccles! The town in Greater Manchester gave it’s name to this (full) moon shaped cake which, strictly speaking, is more of a pastry than a cake: buttery, flaky pastry with a sweet current filling. It is not known who invented the recipe or when although Eccles cakes are believed to have been in existence for more than 300 years.


They may look quite plain and simple but they are comfortingly delicious and really hit the spot. I remember they were quite popular when I was a kid (and I’m from London!) but in the last fifteen years or so, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone even mention an Eccles cake let alone tuck into one. Like the cream horn, it’s in danger of baked goody extinction!

I won’t leave it another 15 years before I have my next Eccles cake and this recipe has inspired me to do a little home baking!


For the quick flaky pastry

175g (6oz) butter
225g (8oz) plain flour
little cold water, to mix

For the filling

25g (1oz) butter
100g (4oz) currants
100g (4oz) sultanas
25g (1oz) mixed peel
85g (3½oz) light, soft brown sugar
zest 1 lemon and 1 orange, plus 1tbsp orange juice
pinch cinnamon
egg white, to glaze
caster sugar, to sprinkle

1. Make the pastry. Weigh out the butter, then freeze in foil for 1 hour. Sift the flour into a bowl, then use the foil to hold the butter. Grate it into the flour using a coarse grater. Add a little water, around 3tbsp, to form a dough. Don’t use your hands, but mix in with a flat-bladed knife. Pat into a round, then wrap in cling film and chill for 45 minutes.

2.Put all the filling ingredients in a pan, cook gently for 5 minutes and allow to cool. Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin, cut out circles using a 10cm (4in) cutter – re-roll the pastry as necessary. Brush the edge of each pastry round with a little water, place 2 heaped tsp of filling in the middle of each, then close the ends up and pinch together, turn the cakes over and pat them down gently to flatten them, until the fruit becomes visible through the pastry. Chill for 20 minutes. Heat the oven to 200 C, 180 C fan, 400 F, gas 6.

3. Lightly beat the egg white until frothy, then glaze the tops. Cut 3 small slashes in each cake, sprinkle with caster sugar and bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.



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