The actor says he has been left 'horrified' by the allegations
The actor says he has been left 'horrified' by the allegations

Coronation Street actor Bill Roache has strenuously denied the two counts of rape allegations against him, adding he is "deeply horrified" at the accusations.

Roache, 81, has been charged with two counts of rape involving a 15-year-old girl in 1967. The actor, who plays the part of Ken Barlow in the popular ITV soap, was arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, on 1 May.

The 81-year-old has now said he will now focus his full attention on "fighting to preserve my innocence".

Roache will appear before Preston magistrates court on 14 May.

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

Responding to the accusations, Roache said: "I am astounded and deeply horrified by the extraordinary events of the last 24 hours.

"I strenuously deny the allegations and will now focus my full attention on fighting to preserve my innocence in the challenging times ahead.

"I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all those people who have offered me their support and good wishes at this difficult time."

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.

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."

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.