Apr. 25th, 1932
Ilkeston, Derbyshire, England, UK
William Roache's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
William Patrick Harry Roache MBE (born 25 April 1932) is a British actor, best known for his role as Ken Barlow in the soap opera Coronation Street. He is the longest serving cast member and the only remaining member of the original Coronation Street cast, having appeared since the first episode on 9 December 1960.
His Freemason grandfather was interested in such things as hypnotism, theosophy, spiritualism, homoeopathy and esotericism, and the teachings of philosopher and educationalist Rudolf Steiner. Roache for a time attended a Steiner school set up by his grandfather in the garden of the family home in Ilkeston Derbyshire.
Roache was later educated at the independent Rydal School in Colwyn Bay, North Wales.
In 1953, he was commissioned into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1954 and left the Army three years later. Because of a mortar round explosion that he witnessed while on National Service with the British Army during this time, Roache suffers from tinnitus.
Roache is a strong supporter of the Conservative Party. He championed Sir John Major as Britain's greatest post-war prime minister for The Daily Politics. He also supported the now disgraced ex-Conservative MP Neil Hamilton in the 1997 election against Martin Bell. This is in contrast with his character Ken, who holds strong socialist views.
His oldest son, by his first wife Anna Cropper (1938–2007), is the actor Linus Roache (born 1964). The couple also had a daughter, Vanya (born 1967). They were married from 1961 until divorcing in 1974.
From his second marriage, he has a daughter named Verity (born 1981) and a younger son, the actor James Roache, christened William (born 1986). A second daughter, Edwina (born 1982), died aged 18 months from acute bronchial pneumonia in 1984.
Roache's second wife, Sara, died suddenly on 7 February 2009 at their home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, at the age of 58. They had been married since 1978., It was revealed in August 2010, that he is currently dating TV and Weather presenter Emma Jesson, 36 years his junior. He is god father to Eileen Derbyshire's son, the sports journalist Oliver Holt.
On 16 October 1985, just weeks before the 25th anniversary of his debut on Coronation Street, he appeared as the special guest on the TV guest show This Is Your Life. With the departure of Pat Phoenix (Elsie Tanner) the previous year, he was the show's last remaining original cast member by this stage.
Roache is now the world's longest-serving television actor as of September 2010 with the cancelation of the American soap opera As the World Turns where Don Hastings, played Bob Hughes since October 1960 without a break.
In 1992, The Sun newspaper accused Roache of being as boring as his character Ken Barlow. Roache then sued for libel, employing Peter Carter-Ruck as his lawyer. The Sun offered to settle out of court for £50,000. Roache turned this down and went ahead with legal action. He won the case and was awarded the same amount in damages. Because he had proceeded to trial he was also liable for court costs. Roache then sued Carter-Ruck for misadvising him and lost. In 1999 he declared himself bankrupt.
His autobiography is called A Soul on The Street. It focuses on many of his life experiences and contains a significant amount of philosophical content in which Roache affirms his belief in the afterlife.
In 1999, Roache was the recipient of the British Soap Awards Lifetime Achievement Award for his role as Ken Barlow.
In 2003, Roache appeared on Celebrity Stars in their Eyes as Perry Como singing—in true Barlow style—the song "Catch a Falling Star".
In September and October 2005, Roache appeared as a celebrity contestant in Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon. He was the winner of The Golden Shot remake, progressing through to Bullseye where he was beaten by television presenter Vernon Kay. He later entered All Star Family Fortunes, which is hosted by Vernon Kay, but lost by two points to his competitors.
Roache is now patron of the Ilkeston-based production company Sustained Magic Ltd. The company exists to help encourage the arts development within Ilkeston and the East Midlands to help develop new actors.
In October 2008, he revealed on BBC Breakfast that he had a two-year feud with fellow Coronation Street actress Pat Phoenix during which they didn't speak to each other. This was over her changing of a scene involving the two of them. However, they did reconcile and became good friends.
In 2010 he made a guest appearance on Harry Hill's comedy album Funny Times on the song "Ken!" which is about his Coronation Street character.
Roache became a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2001. In March 2007, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Chester in recognition of his contribution to television.
- As of 2003, he was the second-longest serving actor in the history of television serials. Only 'Don Hastings (I)' (qv), who has played Bob Hughes on the American soap _"As the World Turns" (1956)_ (qv) since October 1960 without a break, has played the same character longer.
- Was a contestant on Ant and Dec's Gameshow Marathon, a part of ITV's 50th birthday celebrations.
- Served in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
- He was awarded the M.B.E. (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2001 Queen's New Years Honors List for his services to television drama.
- Father of Linus (born 1964) and Vanya (born 1967) by his first marriage and father of Verity Elizabeth (born 1981), Edwina (born 1982, died 1984) and William James (born 1986) from his second marriage.
- In 1984, he and his wife lost their 18 month old daughter, Edwina Roache, from a virus.
- Father of actor 'Linus Roache' (qv).
- Was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Soap Awards in 2000 after playing his role as Ken Barlow in highly watched British soap-drama _"Coronation Street" (1960)_ (qv) for 40 years, after appearing in the very first episode on 9 December 1960.
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