The veteran soap star William Roache pleaded not guilty yesterday to committing sexual offences against five young girls including two counts of rape.
The 81-year-old actor, who has played Ken Barlow in ITV1’s Coronation Street since it was launched, will stand trial at Preston Crown Court in January. The charges against him date back to the 1960s and include two of raping a 15-year-old girl in East Lancashire.
He is also charged with five indecent assaults involving four girls aged between 11 or 12 and 16, allegedly committed in the Manchester area between 1965 and 1968. Mr Roache, who was arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, in May, formally entered not guilty pleas to all seven charges during the 30-minute hearing in Preston. He remains on bail.
The world’s longest-serving soap star has previously described himself as “astounded and deeply horrified” by the allegations. ITV1 said he will not be appearing in the programme until legal proceedings are concluded.