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  • 29 January 2014, 17:41

Corrie's William Roache Was 'Perfect Gent'

Coronation Street's William Roache always behaved impeccably in the company of young women, his co-star Anne Kirkbride has told a court.

The actress, who plays Roache's on-screen wife Deirdre Barlow, said she had known him since joining the soap's cast in 1972.

Roache, of Wilmslow in Cheshire, who has played the role of Ken Barlow since 1960, denies four charges of indecent assault and two of rape and has told the jury he is not sexually attracted to underage girls.

All the offences are alleged to have happened between 1965 and 1971 and all are said to be against girls aged 16 or under.

Kirkbride started giving evidence for the defence by recalling the time when she joined Coronation Street as a "terrified and very nervous" young actress and met Roache for the first time.

"He was friendly...we had a really nice chat and he offered me a cigarette," she said.

"We shared a lot of the same interests in spiritual things. I just found him very easy to talk to."

Asked to describe the defendant in one word she replied: "Lovely."

With Roache smiling from the dock, Kirkbride, 59, went on to say that he behaved "impeccably" towards her.

"He was always the perfect gentleman," she said.

Defence barrister Louise Blackwell QC asked: "Was there anything about his behaviour towards young women which would worry you?"

The actress replied:  "Not at all...never. We have obviously had several young actresses playing our daughter.

"He has never been anything other than helpful, supportive. Never a suggestion of anything else in all of the years I have known him."

In a brief appearance in the witness box, Chris Gascoyne, who plays Roache's fictional son Peter Barlow in the soap opera, said the defendant was "kind, warm and open" with a great sense of humour.

He told the jury: "Bill kind of sets the precedent for everybody. Decent, time for everybody, not a 'star'."

He went on to say that Roache was a calm and relaxed man.

"He takes every day as a new day which is inspiring to me,"  Gascoyne said.

Helen Worth, who plays the character of Gail Platt, is also at court and is expected to give evidence in support of Roache.

Granada location manager John Newman told the jury that security at the Coronation Street studios in Manchester was very tight.

He said that strangers found in the corridors would be challenged.

Mr Newman said he had once had Manchester's Lord Mayor removed because he had not recognised him.

Under cross-examination, Mr Newman said he had had no connection with the Granada studios in the 1960s and that the security level had intensified in recent years.

For live updates from the trial, click here.

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