William Roache not guilty: ITV ‘look forward’ to talks with Coronation Street actor on return as Ken Barlow

Producers had said the actor would not appear in soap until conclusion of trial

The producers of ITV’s Coronation Street have said they “look forward” to speaking to William Roache about his return to the programme, after the actor was sensationally cleared of all sex attack charges following a four-week trial.

The 81-year-old’s participation in the long-running soap had been suspended for the duration of the court proceedings, which saw him charged with two counts of rape and four of indecent assault on young girls in the 1960s and 70s.

Roache was today found not guilty at Preston Crown Court on all counts, and ITV has said it will be discussing the actor’s future with the programme shortly.

In a statement, the broadcaster said: “We look forward to talking to Bill soon about his return to work.”

Roache’s celebrity status ended up playing a key part in his defence lawyers’ case, despite the jury being told by the judge to reject any notion of his Ken Barlow role.

Defending, Louise Blackwell QC said the trial had been haunted by the “spectre” of Jimmy Savile, suggesting that the trial had been brought in part because of Coronation Street actor’s fame.

Read more: William Roache: Coronation Street star found not guilty of all sexual abuse charges
Profile: Coronation Street star was known as 'the Lothario of the cobbles'
William Roache trial: Deirdre Barlow actor says he was a 'perfect gentleman'

“In the post Jimmy Savile era, once someone makes an allegation, it's got to go to court, no sense will prevail, it has to go to court,” Ms Blackwell said.

She told the jury not to “fall into the trap” of thinking there may be other women out there, in the “post-Jimmy Savile, post-Cyril Smith era”.

“There are five women,” she said. “Not 25 or 500 and none of them, nobody suggests after 1972.”

Bill Roache leaves Preston Crown Court flanked by son James Roache (centre left) and daughter Verity, after he was cleared of two counts of rape and four indecent assaults Bill Roache leaves Preston Crown Court flanked by son James Roache (centre left) and daughter Verity, after he was cleared of two counts of rape and four indecent assaults Glowing testimonies were given by defence witnesses, his co-stars, Anne Kirkbride, who plays his on-screen wife Deirdre Barlow and Helen Worth, who plays Gail McIntyre.

His fellow actors said Roache was a “perfect gentleman” and “father figure”.

Roache, speaking today after he was cleared of sex offences, said: “In these situations there are no winners and I think we should all be much kinder to ourselves. Now, if you will excuse me, I would like to get back to work.”

 

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