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William Roache celebrates 90th with ITV special


William Roache celebrates 90th with ITV special

ITV to mark William Roache’s 90th birthday with documentary.

He’s the heart and soul of Coronation Street and to commemorate his 90th birthday, ITV will this week air Happy Birthday Bill, a documentary celebrating the life and career of William Roache. The programme promises to look back on the legacy and achievements of the Corrie legend as he reaches a milestone birthday.

William Roache:

“I don’t feel nearly ninety at all. The Coronation Street cast are like a second family to me and I can’t quite believe I’ve been lucky enough to play Ken Barlow for over 60 years. It’s also been lovely revisiting past memories and remembering all the wonderful things I have seen and done over the years. I hope the viewers enjoy watching the documentary as much as I did making it.”

Reunited: William and Anne Reid

After over 60 years as street stalwart Ken Barlow, William holds the Guinness World Record as the longest-running television soap star, although until the 1990s Granada Television, producers of the show, wouldn’t reconignse or accept the programme being titled a soap, with William often instead insisting it was a ‘Folk Opera’, of everyday life in a Northern street.

In those days the show was a twice-weekly serial, and Bill has been with it as it went to three, then four, then five and six episodes and now airing as three hour-long episodes a week.

With special appearances from cast members past and present, as well as his own family, the documentary will look back on the moments and the people that have helped shape both William and Ken. Cameras will capture a glimpse of William’s life off set at home with his family, as well as his experiences behind the scenes on the show he has called home since it began in December 1960.

Back to 2012 and William with Corrie co-stars mark his 80th

Viewers will also learn more about William’’s history before Coronation Street, as he returns to his old army barracks in which he served before winning the role that changed his life.

In 2020, to mark six decades of Ken Barlow, ITV commissioned Manchester-based classical portrait painter, Michael Koropisz, to paint a portrait of William who has given the serial some of its most memorable moments.

Ken was first seen as part of the Barlow family in the first episode in December 1960 live from Granada Television’s former Quay Street Studios in Manchester. The character has gone on to marry several times, although his most fondly remembered union is that with the late Anne Kirkbride as Deirdre Barlow.

Ken has worked in a number of jobs over the years from school teacher to the editor of the Weatherfield Recorder free newspaper, a long-term rival to the bigger Weatherfield Gazette local tabloid, and even serving up lunches in Roy’s Rolls. 

William with classical portrait painter, Michael Koropisz

‘Happy Birthday Bill’ airs tomorrow, Tuesday 19th April, at 8 pm on ITV.

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