01/19/2015 04:42 EST | Updated 01/19/2015 04:59 EST

Anne Kirkbride Dead: Deirdre Barlow On 'Coronation Street' Dies At Age 60

Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
PRESTON, LANCASHIRE - JANUARY 29: Coronation St actress Anne Kirkbride leaves Preston Crown Court after giving evidence in the trial of William Roache on January 29, 2014 in Preston, Lancashire. Coronation Street star William Roache, who plays the character Ken Barlow on the ITV soap, is charged with two rape and four indecent assault allegations which relate to incidents between 1965 and 1971. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

This is a sad day for the "Coronation Street" community.

The official "Corrie" Twitter account confirmed that long-time star Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre Barlow, passed away following a short illness:

Kirkbride was a "Coronation Street" staple for 44 years. She had recently taken a three-month absence from the show for undisclosed reasons, and was expected to return to the show in January 2015.

"There are no words to describe the sense of grief we feel at Anne's passing," said "Corrie" executive producer Kieran Roberts to ITV, the network in the U.K. that broadcasts the show.

"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 [her husband] David and their family."

Kirkbride left behind her husband and her brother, John. As of this writing, there is no official word on whether "Coronation Street" will honour her passing on the show -- but you can bet the neighbourhood will send her off in the nicest way possible.

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