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Saturday, 30 December, 2000, 00:54 GMT
Street star's life as Ken Barlow
William Roache
Roache celebrates being Coronation Street's longest-serving resident
Coronation Street actor William Roache, who has been made an MBE for services to TV drama, has made a name as the world's longest-serving soap star.

The 68-year-old actor, known to millions of viewers as Ken Barlow, is the only member of the original cast still in the show, which earlier this month celebrated 40 years on the screen.

During his record-breaking time on the hit soap, Roache's character has led a life full of incident.

Considered academically bright, Ken went to university and over the past four decades has gone through a selection of jobs from lecturer, taxi driver to small-time newspaper magnate.

Mike Baldwin (played by Johnny Briggs)
Mike Baldwin (played by Johnny Briggs): a constant irritation to Ken

His love life has not been without its ups and downs either.

Ken's on/off relationship with former wife Deirdre, played by Anne Kirkbride, has been a long-running feature of the soap.

He has also had affairs with the Street's Alma Sedgewick, played by Amanda Barrie, and Denise Osbourne, played by Denise Black.

Ken's feud with factory boss Mike Baldwin, played by Johnny Briggs, has also been an almost constant thorn in his side.

Yet, after 30 years in the role the actor announced he would be happy to play Ken for another 30 years.


Roache was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. His father was a doctor, also called William.

Roache Jr started out studying medicine too. However, following his National Service, Roache stayed in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

Tony Warren
Tony Warren saw Roache on a film set

He spent a total of five years in the army, rising to the rank of captain and serving in countries such as Jamaica, Bermuda, Germany and Oman.

After leaving the army he turned to acting, with roles in Skyport, Knight Errant Limited, The Bulldog Breed and Marking Time.

Whilst at Granada filming Biggles, he was picked out by Coronation Street creator Tony Warren for the role of Ken Barlow.

Like his onscreen persona, Roache has had a tumultuous private life.

His first marriage to actress Anna Cropper, by whom he has two children including actor son Linus, 36, ended in divorce in 1974.

Betty Driver
Betty Driver, who plays barmaid Betty, was honoured in 1999

He married his second wife Sara Mottram in 1977. Tragedy struck the couple in 1984 when their 18-month-old, second daughter Edwina died of a virus.

The couple have two other children, Verity, 19, and William, 14.

Roache joins other Street stars who have been honoured, including Violet Carson OBE, Doris Speed MBE, Betty Driver MBE and Tony Warren MBE.

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See also:

08 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Why TV drama is going live
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40 years on the Street
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