Ken Barlow may be something of a Coronation Street lothario with a tally of 28 on-screen girlfriends, but it appears that this is nothing compared to the actor who’s played him for over 50 years.
In an interview for a forthcoming edition of Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, William Roache claims to have slept with 1,000 women, including a one-night liaison with Weatherfield siren Pat Phoenix, who portrayed Elsie Tanner on the ITV soap.
Roache, who turns 80 in April, says of the encounter with his one-time co-star: “It was just something that happened one night when we were together. We weren’t right for each other.
"She invited me round to her flat and we had a few drinks, then one thing led to another. At that time, she had a reputation and I had a reputation, and she felt we should meet, as it were. It just happened.”
As for his tally of flings, Roache initially confesses that he has slept with “more than 100” women, but when pressed as to whether the figure is closer to 1,000, says, “Well, I’m not denying it.”
It’s a confession that would have Ken’s late mother-in-law, Blanche, spinning in her grave, as would the on-set nickname “C**k Roache”, which the star earned following the priapic antics that regularly found him cheating on first wife Anna Cropper.
But the actor is not proud of the infidelity that led to his divorce from Cropper in 1974: "There were plenty of girls around. I shouldn't have done it. I didn't have any control over my own sex drive. I didn't have the strength to control it.”
He adds: "It depressed me. I'm so sorry for the things that I did. The hurt was the children. I'll always regret that. Every morning I woke up regretting and hurting."
You can see William Roache and Pat Phoenix make their Coronation Street debuts in the first-ever episode, originally broadcast in December 1960, below: