Bill Roache has been in Coronation Street since it first aired in 1960.
Bill Roache has been in Coronation Street since it first aired in 1960

Coronation Street actor Bill Roache has been charged with two counts of rape involving a 15-year-old girl in the 1960s.

Roache, 81, who plays the part of Ken Barlow in the popular ITV soap, was arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, on suspicion of two counts of rape in 1967.

Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the north-west, said: "We have carefully considered all the evidence gathered by Lancashire police in relation to William Roache following allegations of rape.

"We have been reviewing evidence and providing early investigative advice to Lancashire police since 1 March 2013.

"Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr Roache to be charged with two offences of rape relating to a girl, aged 15, in 1967."

He is due to appear before magistrates on 14 May to face the charges.

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.

An ITV spokesperson said Roache will not be appearing in Coronation Street until legal proceedings are concluded.

Lancashire Police said: "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."

Roache 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 suggest 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."

Read: Bill Roache 'Strenuously Denies' Rape Allegations