Veteran Coronation Street actor Bill Roache has been charged with two counts of raping a 15-year-old girl.
The 81-year-old, who’s played Ken Barlow in the ITV soap since it began in 1960, is accused of raping the underage girl in 1967.
Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West, said: “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.”
It is understood the CPS has been reviewing evidence against Roache since 1 March ahead of the actor’s arrest this morning at his home in Cheshire.
Roache’s arrest and charges are not connected to the ongoing Operation Yewtree investigations, the CPS confirmed.Roache will appear at Preston Magistrates’ Court on May 14
An ITV spokesperson said: “Given that a police investigation is under way, it would not be appropriate for us to comment.” However, it is understood that Roache will not appear onscreen until the matter is concluded.
Earlier this year, Roache was forced to apologise after making comments that suggested famous people could be “caught in the trap” of sleeping with underage girls and that “everything that happens to us has been a result of what we have been in previous lives.”
Roache is the longest serving member of the Coronation Street cast, having been on the show since its first episode in 1960.
In February, another long serving cast member, Michael Le Vell, who plays mechanic Kevin Webster in the soap, was cut from scenes after being arrested and charged with 19 counts of sexual abuse, including a count of child rape.