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William Patrick Roache MBE (born 25 April 1932) is a British actor, best known for his role as Ken Barlow in the soap opera Coronation Streetmarker. Roache is the only remaining member of the original cast, having appeared in the first episode on 9 December 1960 and is currently the longest serving actor in Coronation Streetmarker and in British soap overall.



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 Ilkestonmarker Derbyshire.

Roache was later educated at the independent Rydal Schoolmarker in Colwyn Baymarker, North Walesmarker.

Military service

In 1953, he was commissioned into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1954 and left the Army three years later. Due to a mortar bomb 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.


His oldest son, by his first wife Anna Cropper, is the actor Linus Roache. The couple also had a daughter, Vanya.

He also has a daughter named Verity and a younger son called William with his wife, Sara. The couple had a daughter called Edwina, who died aged 18 months old of acute bronchial pneumonia.

Roache's wife, Sara, died unexpectedly on 7 February 2009 at their home in Wilmslowmarker Cheshire at the age of 58. They had been married since 1978.


Roache is the second-longest continuous actor in the worldwide history of television serials. Only Don Hastings, who has played Bob Hughes on the American soap opera As the World Turns since October 1960, without a break, has played the same character longer. The Guinness Book of Records states that the non-continuous record is held by Helen Wagner, who has played Nancy Hughes on the same soap opera, As the World Turns, since April 1956. Wagner left between 1981 and 1985.

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. However, because he had turned down the earlier settlement he was liable for his considerable costs. Roache then sued Peter Carter-Ruck for misadvising him and lost. In 1999, he declared himself bankrupt. His autobiography is called A Soul on The Street and while it focuses on many of his life experiences it contains a remarkable 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 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, Suzanne Shaw and her family.

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 Streetmarker 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 March 2007, Roache was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Chestermarker in recognition of his contribution to television. In June of that year, he accepted an offer to become an honorary member of the voting panel for the 'Carer of the Year Award' organised by Castle Comfort Stairlifts of Staffordshire.


  2. Spiritual soap star William Roache to give talk in city Peterborough Today, 25 February 2006. Retrieved on 2008-06-07.

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