Bill Roache has played the part of Ken Barlow since 1960
Bill Roache has played the part of Ken Barlow since 1960

Coronation Street actor Bill Roache has been arrested on suspicion of raping a 15-year-old girl.

Soap star Roache, 81, was arrested by police at his home in Wilmslow, near Manchester, accused of sexual assault of a teenage girl in 1967 in Haslingden, Lancashire. Police have searched his  home.

Roache has played the part of Ken Barlow in Britain's most popular and longest-running TV soap for 53 years. He is the world's longest-serving television actor in a continuous role.

Lancashire Police said: "An 81-year-old man from Wilmslow in Cheshire has been arrested by Lancashire constabulary on suspicion of rape.

"The man will be interviewed at a police station in Lancashire.

"The offences are alleged to have been committed in Haslingden between April and July 1967 and to involve a girl aged 15 years.

"We take all allegations of sexual abuse extremely seriously and would encourage people with any information about sexual abuse, or anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, to come forward and report their concerns confident in the knowledge they will be investigated appropriately and with sensitivity."

ITV has said the actor will not be appearing in the long-running soap while investigations are ongoing. A spokesperson added: "Given that a police investigation is under way it would not be appropriate for us to comment." 

The 81-year-old was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Soap Awards in 1999 and an MBE in 2001.

In March, the actor apologised after he appeared to suggested sex abuse victims were being punished for sins in their past lives.

He told a New Zealand news programme: "If you accept that you are pure love, and if you know that you are pure love and therefore live that pure love, these things won't happen to you.

"Everything that happens to us is the result of what we have been in previous lives."

Bill Roache 'Strenuously Denies' Rape Allegations

Stuart Hall Guilty of Indecent Assault of Young Girls