Such unbearable sadness for a woman much loved – ‘a friend, a neighbour, a mother, a grandmother, the lynchpin of the community, as Ken states in his eulogy. In addition, the fact that the woman, Anne Kirkbride herself has died, adds extra grief and poignancy for viewers an cast. What a brilliant actor she was too! Convincing in all she did, with a rare ability to convey powerful emotions, Anne Kirkbride was a household name. She certainly put paid to the old (and offensive) adage, ‘Men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.’ Men were falling over themselves for Deirdre in her younger years. Deirdre was up there with the most iconic of the cobbles’ characters.
Amy is up early and comes downstairs to ask her granddad if he is ok. Ken tells her that she is a ‘thoughtful young lady’ to which Amy replies, ‘I certainly don’t get that from my mum.’
Tracy is trying hard to be a comfort to her dad, but after Bev told him the reason why Deirdre didn’t come home, that she was too ashamed of Tracy to face people, Ken has harboured a fury against his adopted daughter. This fury escapes from time to time in various scathing, biting comments. Tracy asks why he isn’t saying it’s alright. Ken replies that he’s ‘not sure that it is.’ She offers to make him breakfast but he tells her he’s already eaten.
Peter was supposed to have turned up a good while ago. Of his absence Tracy says, ‘There’s only one person in Peter’s life and that’s Peter.’ Immediately Ken bats back, with a vicious comment to her. ‘If selfishness was an Olympic sport, you’d be stood on a podium, waving your gold medal at the crowd.’
As neighbours line the street to see the cars off, Tracy sees her ex-husband, Robert, who is standing alone watching the scene. That he should turn up is a measure of respect and affection for his ex-mother-in-law. This reappearance could be interesting. Sally tells Tim off for calling Ken ‘mate’ but as Rita points out, it is immaterial to Ken what anyone calls him today.
The service begins with Deirdre’s coffin being brought to the front of the church – pallbearers are Liz, Kevin, Ken, Kirk, Dev and Steve. The music is Feelin’ Good by the one and only Nina Simone and a photo of Deirdre’s smiling face is propped up against the coffin.
The congregation sings Bridge over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel and perhaps the implication is that Deirdre is that bridge.
Ken has another swipe at Tracy, this time telling her that she, ‘caused more pain and worry than anything else in her life.’ Also Ken feels that he would have had more time with Deirdre if it hadn’t been for Tracy having the affair with Tony and trying to push Liz, Deirdre’s best friend out of The Rovers. Tracy dashes out, and Robert dashes out after her.
Ken steps up to give his eulogy to Deirdre. Outside, Tracy and Robert are talking at Blanche’s grave, when Steve turns up, telling a little white lie that Ken wants her back in the church. Tracy introduces the two men. ‘Steve, this is my ex-husband Robert and Robert this is my ex-husband, Steve.’ They acknowledge that it’s a small world but Steve points out that he wouldn’t want to hoover it.’
Ken speaks of how different he and Deirdre were. ‘As I drifted away to Chopin, she washed up to the Spice Girls.’ He speaks of Deirdre’s laugh, her ‘throaty joyous roar of happiness.’ They met in 1974 at a drama group, Ken reminds the congregation.
He talks of the early days of their marriage living with Uncle Albert and then Blanche. He also refers to Amy and Simon, who Deirdre adored and doesn’t shy away from stating the inadequacies of Tracy and Peter as parents. Ken talks of how DEirre gave them a foundation and guidance.
Ken wishes he’d been a better husband and that he could ‘hear that booming, life-affirming laugh once more.’ And don’t we all?
He ends with something Blanche used to say. ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Goodbye my love.’ He receives and deserves a round of applause.
Standing alone at Deirdre’s grave, Ken, now visibly grief-stricken and sobbing, says to Deirdre, ‘Despite everything, it was only ever really you. I hope you knew that.’
Tracy can’t face the wake and goes home. Robert arrives and after a bit of cooking, he tells Tracy that he thinks about her every day. Tracy moves in for a kiss. Ken returns home and orders Robert out. ‘Just when I thought you couldn’t sink any lower!’
In addition to Deirdre’s funeral which is beautifully and brilliantly written by Damon Rochefort, there are some hangers on who Amy reminds of the existence of supermarkets, Bethany wags school, gets drunk, is helped to sober up by Callum, who takes her home. Bethany suggests he pays for the French trip. Sarah tells her she is in trouble. Carla is in demand, but is gambling and we hear her asking for a transfer of £2,000 to her current account.
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