Coronation Street actor William Roache appeared at Preston Magistrates’ Court this morning facing allegations that he raped a 15-year-old girl in the 1960s.

81-year-old Roache, who has played Ken Barlow in the soap since its launch on December 9th 1960, spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth, reports Sky News.

Earlier this month, Roache was charged with two counts of rape, alleged to have taken place between April and July 1967.

Of the allegations he released the following statement:

“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.”

Coronation Street bosses have meanwhile confirmed that Roache will not appear in the programme pending the outcome of legal proceedings. Ken Barlow is the soap’s longest surviving character and Williams is one of only two original cast members in the current production alongside Eileen Derbyshire as Emily Bishop.

William Roache and Eileen Derbyshire as Ken and Emily in ITV Granada’s Coronation Street.
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