Coronation Street star William Roache has no plans to retire as he turns 90

Coronation Street actor William Roache will turn 90 on April 25. Credit: Matt Crossick/PA Wire/PA Images

Coronation Street actor William Roache says he has "no intention of retiring" as he prepares to celebrate his 90th birthday.

The actor has starred as Ken Barlow in the ITV soap for more than 60 years and holds a Guinness World Record for the longest-running TV soap star.

In December 2021, it was announced that the actor had been made an OBE in the Queen's New Year Honours list for his services to drama and charity.

He said: "People will say when are you retiring? Are you going to take a break? But then what happens?

"Whilst I can do it, and whilst they will have me, I have no intention of retiring. I am so fortunate to work for an organisation that is happy to have me."

William Roache with his Guinness Book of Records certificate Credit: ITV

A new documentary, Happy Birthday Bill, commissioned by ITV to celebrate his life and career as he reaches the milestone birthday, will air on Tuesday at 8pm.

It is narrated by Sir Ian McKellen who played the part of a novelist on the soap in 2005.

Happy Birthday Bill will also offer a glimpse of Roache's life off screen with his family and will explore his life before the cobbles, with him returning to the army barracks where he did his basic training as part of the programme.

Despite having a reputation for being a bore, Roache's character has been involved in a number of explosive storylines since his debut in the first episode of the ITV soap in 1960.

Having spent more than six decades on the cobbles, Ken has had many relationships on the show, including marriages to Valerie Tatlock, Janet Reid and Deirdre Langton.

Anne Kirkbride played William Roache's on-screen wife Deirdre for 42 years Credit: amonn and James Clarke/EMPICS Entertainment

His on-screen wife of 42 years, Deirdre, was played by Anne Kirkbride who died in January 2015 aged 60, having been diagnosed with breast cancer and having also suffered a stroke.

In the show, Ken was planning a 60th birthday for her when he was left reeling from the news of her death.

Happy Birthday Bill also reunites him with actress Anne Reid, who played Ken's first wife Valerie, who in the soap died after being electrocuted by her hairdryer.

He said: "She played my wife in Coronation Street for eight years and I was very sad when she chose to leave.

"When Valerie died she was due to meet Ken at the Rovers so when she walked through the doors finally 52 years later it was a lovely moment, we both just started laughing."It was beautiful to see her again, to me she looks no different.

William Roache turns 90 on 25th April Credit: PA

Asked about the secret to his success and still working at 90, he said: "I suppose I always feel like I'm learning.

"You know, people ask me if the younger ones ask me for advice and I say no, they're all so good and confident that I feel I should ask them.

"I always feel I'm still growing up. I never feel grown up in life anyway. And then I've always got things to learn.

"Working with people like Chris Gascoyne and so many other members of the cast is so good. It's such a privilege."

He said the ageing process is "just experiencing things as you go along. Doesn't necessarily mean deterioration.

"That's the sad thing, the collective consciousness of humanity says you live to 70 and start to deteriorate towards the end.

"If you genuinely believe that you're deteriorating then you will deteriorate. But you don't have to buy into that belief.

"People say 'Oh, I'm a bit old for that'. Nonsense if you want to do something, it shouldn't matter what age you are.

"Value your time as you get older. Enjoyment is the key. If you enjoy doing something, keep doing it."

Happy Birthday Bill airs on ITV and ITV Hub on Tuesday, 19 April at 8pm

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