William Roache trial: Deirdre Barlow actor says he was a 'perfect gentleman'

 

The Coronation Street actor William Roache always behaved impeccably in the company of young women, Anne Kirkbride, who plays his on-screen wife Deirdre Barlow, has told a court.

Mr Roache, 81, who has played the role of Ken Barlow since 1960, is accused of using his fame and popularity to exploit “starstruck” young girls for sex in the 1960s.

His five accusers have told the jury they were assaulted by the actor either while at Granada Studios where the soap is filmed, in his Rolls-Royce or at properties he owned.

But yesterday his co-stars said Mr Roache was the caring and kind “father figure” and “elder statesman” of the show, who looked after younger members of the cast. Ms Kirkbride said she had known the actor since joining the soap’s cast in 1972. Giving evidence for the defence at Preston Crown Court, she said she was a “terrified and very nervous” young actress when she joined Coronation Street and first met Roache.

“He was friendly...we had a really nice chat and he offered me a cigarette,” she said. “We shared a lot of the same interests in spiritual things. I just found him very easy to talk to.” Asked to describe the defendant in one word, she replied: “Lovely”.

Coronation Street actor William Roache arrives at Preston Crown Court Coronation Street actor William Roache arrives at Preston Crown Court (Getty)  

With Mr Roache smiling in the dock, Ms Kirkbride, 59, went on to say that he behaved “impeccably” towards her.

“He was always the perfect gentleman,” she said.

Defence barrister Louise Blackwell QC asked: “Was there anything about his behaviour towards young women which would worry you?” The actress replied:  “Not at all... never. We have obviously had several young actresses playing our daughter. He has never been anything other than helpful, supportive. Never a suggestion of anything else in all of the years I have known him.”

Helen Worth, who plays Gail McIntyre in the soap, also gave evidence. Ms Worth said she was 23 when she joined Coronation Street in 1974. She was asked if she had spent a lot of time with Mr Roache during her 40 years in the cast. She replied: “Yes, in fact our dressing rooms are opposite each other.”

Miss Blackwell asked: “During the time that you worked with him, how would you describe his character, particularly in reference to young women?” Ms Worth said: “He was caring. Never anything more. Just caring. What more can a man be? He was lovely.”

The barrister asked: “Did you see him in the company of young female cast members?” “Yes, of course,” Ms Worth replied. “I never saw anything that was untoward whatsoever in 40 years.”

Chris Gascoyne, who plays Mr Roache’s fictional son Peter Barlow, said the defendant was “kind, warm and open” with a great sense of humour.

Roache faces two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault involving five complainants aged 16 and under between 1965 and 1971. He denies four charges of indecent assault and two of rape and has told the jury he is not sexually attracted to underage girls.

The trial continues.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
i100
Sport
footballLatest scores and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties