Coronation Street star William Roache has been arrested over historic allegations of rape.
The 81-year-old actor, best known for his role as Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, is being questioned over claims of alleged sexual abuse of an underage girl in the 1960s.
It is understood Roache was arrested at 8am this morning at his home in Cheshire.
A statement from Lancashire police states:
“An 81 year old man from Wilmslow in Cheshire has this morning, Wednesday, 1st May 2013, been arrested by Lancashire Constabulary on suspicion of rape.
“The man will be interviewed at a police station in Lancashire during the course of the day.
“The offences are alleged to have been committed in Haslingden between April and July 1967 and to involve a girl aged 15 years.
“We take all allegations of sexual abuse extremely seriously and would encourage people with any information about sexual abuse, or anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, to come forward and report their concerns confident in the knowledge they will be investigated appropriately and with sensitivity.”
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.
An ITV spokesperson has declined to comment at this stage, but it is understood that Barlow will not appear onscreen while investigations continue.
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.