A Coronation Street star said he was “fighting for his life” as he gave evidence in his defence against child sexual abuse allegations.
Michael Le Vell, who plays mechanic Kevin Webster in the long-running soap, rejected prosecution suggestions that he was using his acting skills to convince the jury of his innocence.
In a series of highly-charged exchanges at a packed Manchester Crown Court, Le Vell, 48, said he felt “shaky” and nervous under cross examination from prosecutor Eleanor Laws QC.
Miss Laws said it never been more important for the actor, who has starred in the hit soap for 30 years, to be persuasive. He replied: “I am just here to tell the truth.”
The barrister questioned the soap star – who is being prosecuted under his real name Michael Turner – over his marital infidelities and his drinking. “Are you quite a weak man? You have your demons Mr Turner, when you have had a drink or two?“ she asked.
"You are not your screen character or anything like it are you Mr Turner?” Miss Laws added.
The actor admitted he had problems over alcohol, drinking up to eight pints a night at his local pub. But he described his alleged victim as “deluded” and the claims against him as “a pack of lies” when being questioned by police.
Le Vell denies 12 charges including five counts of rape, three of indecent assault.
It is alleged he began abusing his victim when she was aged six and that the attacks continued for nearly a decade including one in which she was raped whilst clutching a teddy bear.
The girl, now a teenager, wept under oath when she gave evidence from behind a screen on the first day of the trial. “Pretty good performance, don't you think? If she is lying, very convincing, wasn't it? Almost Oscar-winning?” said Miss Laws.
“I don't know what you mean by Oscar performance. I couldn't really see, I could only hear,” he said.
The jury heard how the actor told police he feared he would lose his role in the long-running soap after being arrested. “This is a life changing thing. It will cost me my job,” he said.
Le Vell outlined the impact the allegations had had on his life since he was arrested in 2011.
He told his defence counsel Alisdair Williamson: “I'm devastated, I'm lost. I don't understand where it's come from. It's left such a big hole in life. I'm like a lost soul and I still want to get to the bottom of why this has happened to me and why I'm being accused of this because I know none of this happened.”
The trial continues.