William Roache brought his Coronation Street co-stars to tears with an emotional tribute to Anne Kirkbride at the National Television Awards.
The 81-year-old actor spoke at length about his "soulmate" Anne, who died at the age of 60 on Monday following a secret battle with cancer.
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 warmhearted person who brightened our days and would gave us all a hug.
"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 was left in tears after his speech while Barbara Knox, who plays Rita looked devastated.
The Coronation Street stars had chosen 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."
And earlier in the day, Kym Marsh, [Michelle Connor] appeared to be deep in thought and holding back tears as she prepared to board her train to London. Carrying her outfit for the evening's ceremony in one hand, as well as a coffee, the actress wheeled a small suitcase in the other.
She was joined by close pal and co-star Antony Cotton [Sean Tully], who appeared deep in thought as he followed close behind.
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.
The ITV soap is up for Serial Drama at the prestigious bash - but it's fair to say the programme is facing some stiff competition.
Eastenders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks are all up for the gong at the event, which will be presented by host Dermot O'Leary.
Former Coronation Street actress, Sarah Lancashire is up for Best Drama Performance alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Maggie Smith and Sheridan Smith.
Meanwhile, Anne Kirkbride, who starred in Coronation Street for 43 years but sadly passed away on Monday, is set to be honoured at the annual ceremony, held at London's O2 arena.
Her on-screen husband William Roach, 82, (Ken Barlow) is expected to lead a tribute to the beloved star and reminisce on his memories of her.
Neville Buswell and Anne Kirkbride
In an interview on This Morning on Tuesday, he said: "I remember when we would both go our different ways (in the show) but we'd always come back together.
"One of the writers said, 'We always see Ken and Deirdre as a pair, whether they're together or not.' We were sort of soulmates and we were like that off screen.
"I loved her dearly and she loved me, in the true and proper way and I respected her as an actress tremendously."
And in a statement released on Monday, he also said: "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 audience at the NTAs will be encouraged to show their appreciation for Anne's contribution to the soap by applauding - it will be broadcast on ITV at 7.30pm, The Sun newspaper reports.
It has been reported that most of the ITV soap's stars had no idea the actress was seriously ill.
However, her William Roache was able to pay his final respects to the star - who was on a three-month break from the show - hours before her untimely death, a source told MailOnline.
Anne was expected to return to show from hiatus this month but extended her leave. A source also told The Mirror: Anne had been ill but things got a lot worse very quickly.
Anne Kirkbride is survived by her husband, David, her brother John, and his family.
As tributes to the late actress continue to flood in, filming has been suspended while her devastated Corrie colleagues come to terms with what has happened.
In 2009, Anne gave a rare interview to Yours magazine in which the keen artist said, 'I'm happy to stay in the Street, but as I get older I hope to slow down to pursue different interests.
"I am loath to grow old in Coronation Street. I don't know what the future holds.
"I'm open-minded, but I'm 54 and I don't want to grow old working as hard as I am now - out on the cold cobbles for hours on a Monday morning in the middle of winter!"
An ITV spokesman said the actress' family would not be commenting on the cause of Anne's death.
- Daily Mail