Coronation Street star Anne Kirkbride, who played the character of Deidre Barlow for more than 40 years has died at age 60.
It was announced in September last year that she would be taking a break from the show to overcome some 'personal issues' which were thought to be derived from her lengthy battle with depression.
She was expected to make her long-awaited return to Coronation Street this month, when ITV announced her death in a statement this morning.
Anne's husband David Beckett and the cast and crew of Coronation Street are "heartbroken and deeply saddened at the loss of Anne."
"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 crate the legendary character of Deirdre Barlow."
The 60-year-old was previously diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1993, but following successful treatment she was able to return to the soap within just 12 months.
In 2001, Anne revealed that the diagnosis brought in its wake a lengthy battle with depression that made her life 'unbearable' over the years that followed.
Speaking back when she was diagnosed, she said: "I just wanted to die because you just don't want to go on living or feeling like that.
"But you're frightened that if you die you still might feel like that on the other side.
"There's no escape."
She continued: "It was worse than the cancer in a way because that was going to be over.
"I knew it was bad but I knew at the end I was going to get better.
"But this... was just so frightening."
Deidre's character has been at the forefront of a high profile plot since the turn of the year, with son Peter being wrongly jailed for the murder of Tina McIntyre and husband Ken, played by veteran William Roache.