1. ITV Report

Bill Roache 'will get another step to closure' by returning to Corrie

Bill Roache returns to ITV screens from 8:30pm tonight. Photo: Good Morning Britain/ITV

Bill Roache returns to Coronation Street for the first time since he was acquitted of a string of historical sex abuse charges earlier this year.

The 82-year-old actor was acquitted of raping a 15-year-old girl and indecently assaulting four other teenagers at the soap's studios in Manchester and in his Rolls-Royce in the 60s and 70s.

Close friend MP Nigel Evans, who suffered a similar experience when he was put on trial for allegations of rape, spoke to Good Morning Britain about what Bill could expect on returning to work and the strength each found in their friendship.

We had a deal done that at some stage when it was all over, and we were doing this during the process, that I would have a drink in the Rovers Return and he would have a drink on the terrace of the House of Commons.

– Nigel Evans

The MP for Ribble Valley said the past year of Roache's life would have been "stranger than any storyline" the Coronation Street star would have taken part in.

The two friends, who have known each other for "decades", found solace in their relationship as they both battled criminal trials.

Bill Roache flanked by his two children after he was acquitted of all charges. Credit: PA

Evans, a former Deputy Speaker of the Commons, said Roache had summed up moving on from the trial as "a bit like jet lag" and warned the Tory MP it took "months" to move past the ordeal.

Speaking from personal experience, Evans credited the support of members on both sides of the house for getting him through the trial.

I know when I went back to the House of Commons, one of the things that was important to me were people from all sides of the house - Labour politicians coming up to me and giving me hugs.

I am absolutely certain that's what happened to Bill. He had three Coronation Street stars come up to Preston court during the trial to give a good character reference for him.

– Nigel Evans MP

He said the support of Coronation Street colleagues would have been invaluable and will help Roache get back on track.