Ken Barlow, played by William RoacheCoronation Street veteran Bill Roache has “strenuously” denied claims that he raped a 15-year-old girl in the late 1960s.

The 81-year-old actor, who has played Ken Barlow since the soap’s launch in 1960, was arrested yesterday morning and later charged with two counts of rape.

ITV bosses have confirmed that the actor will not appear in the soap pending the outcome of legal proceedings.

Roache has issued the following statement:

“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.”

He will appear at Preston Magistrates’ Court on May, 14.

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