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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable