1. ITV Report

Bill Roache to face rape charges

Bill Roache returns home Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Coronation Street actor Bill Roache will be charged with two counts of rape of a 15 year old girl in 1967, the Crown Prosecution Service said today.

Roache, 81, who has played Ken Barlow in the soap since its launch, was arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, this morning.

ITV News' UK Editor Lucy Manning reports:

Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West, said: "We have carefully considered all the evidence gathered by Lancashire Police in relation to William Roache following allegations of rape.

"We have been reviewing evidence and providing early investigative advice to Lancashire Police since 1 March 2013.

"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 that Roache - the world's longest-serving soap actor - will not appear in Coronation Street while investigations continue.

A near neighbour of Roache, who did not want to be named, said they were not aware of his arrest this morning until the press arrived outside his house.

The neighbour said: "All I can say is whenever I see him he's an absolutely delightful fellow. It's an absolute witch-hunt. Poor sod."

Shortly before 4pm, officers at Roache's home could be seen placing brown paper evidence bags inside an unmarked police car, which left the address shortly afterwards.

It was followed by two more unmarked police cars, each with three plain clothes officers inside.

Roache will appear at Preston Magistrates' Court on May 14.