An emotional tribute to Anne Kirkbride left the cast of Coronation Street in tears at the National Television Awards.
Her onscreen husband William Roache paid a moving tribute to the actress, who died on Monday (19 January) at the age of 60 following a secret battle with cancer.
Describing her as his 'soulmate' he said: "With her husky voice and trademark spectacles, the nation took Deirdre to their hearts. As Deirdre and Ken, we were soulmates. And despite what was thrown at us we found one another and always made our way back together.
"The nation seemed to want us together and I feel so honoured to have those years with Anne. What I remember the best is the vibrant warm-hearted person who brightened our days and would gave us all a hug," added the 81-year-old.
"Corrie brought Anne and her husband, David, together and he has lovingly been at her side since. Together with Anne's brother John and his family, David and their Coronation Street family and especially Beverly Callard who was close to Anne in her final days, we would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support. She will be greatly missed by us all."
Kym Marsh, who plays Michelle O'Connor on the show, couldn't hide her grief as she broke down in tears during his speech while Barbara Knox, who plays Rita was visibly distraught.
Antony Cotton [Sean Tully], Michael Le Vell, [Kevin Webster], Georgia May Foote, [Katy Armstrong] and Brooke Vincent, [Sophie Webster] were just some of Weatherfield's famous residents who ventured out for TV's biggest night, though they chose not to walk the red carpet at the ceremony.
Earlier in the evening, host Dermot O'Leary said: "I know you've been through a very difficult time and on behalf of everyone here we are delighted you came. We're all here for you."
Roache, who played Ken Barlow her on again of again husband for forty years, said in a statement following her death on Monday: "I loved her dearly and she loved me, in the true and proper way and I respected her as an actress tremendously.'
"I feel Anne's loss so personally having worked closely with her for over 40 years. She was such a loving and vibrant person. You always knew she was there because her laugh was never far away. She was an impeccable performer with superb comedy timing and an immense gift for really heightened drama.'
The ITV soap is up for Serial Drama at the prestigious bash, but faces strong competition from Eastenders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks.
Predictably, Geordie double act Ant and Dec were big winners on the night, scooping two awards for I'm A Celebrity and as Best Entertainment hosts. A delighted Ant McPartlin said: "We really thought our run had to come to an end some time and we thought tonight's the night. But it's fantastic that it's not."
This Morning took the prize for the fourth consecutive year for Best Daytime Show, while Mrs Browns Boys won the prize for Best comedy sitcom. "We want to thank Ant and Dec for not doing a comedy sitcom," joked Brendan O'Carroll.
The show also included a clue to the identity of Lucy Beale's murder in Eastenders. Opening a box host Dermot O'Leary revealed that the sound of a music box was the last thing that Lucy heard before she was killed.
Danny Dyer picked up the award for Best Serial Drama Performance for his role as Mick Carter in Eastenders.
"Its bitter sweet because I think Kellie Bright deserves this. You're only as good as the person you're in front of. It's a tough gig but I love it. I've got the best job in the world," he said.
It was good night for the Carters with Maddy Hill, who plays Dyer's daughter Nancy in the show, walking away with the Best Newcomer prize. Meanwhile, Eastenders beat Coronation Street to bag the Best Soap award, as the show prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
Collecting the award, longstanding cast member Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian Beale, paid tribute to the cast of Coronation street in honour of the passing of Anne Kirkbride. "Without Coronation Street, without Ken and Deidre, they'd be no Eastenders," he said. In a touching moment Kirkbride's co-stars stood up, as they were applauded by the Eastenders team.
The show also saw Keeping Up with the Kardashians matriarch Kris Jenner make a surprise guest appearance. Dressed in a long white gown, the momager was joined on stage by her reality show cameraman as she presented the award for Best Multichannel Series.
"May I say you have the most handsome television host," she said to O'Leary, before making the first gaffe of the night, referring to Geordie Shore as 'Georgie' shore.
Accepting the award for Celebrity Juice, host Keith Lemon said to Jenner: "You look buff. You can see everything."
Preceded by a performance of 500 Miles by The Proclaimers the Special Recognition Award was presented to a genuinely surprised David Tennant. " I love this job," he said, "And to get a prize for doing this on TV it is just amazing."