Coronation Street’s William Roache ‘delighted’ to be made OBE

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  • William Roache
    English actor
  • Cherylee Houston
    Cherylee Houston
    British actress

Coronation Street actor William Roache has said he is “delighted” to have been made an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

The 89-year-old, who holds the Guinness World Record for the longest-serving TV soap star in the world, has been honoured for his services to drama and charity.

Born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, Roache debuted as Ken Barlow in the first episode of the ITV soap in 1960, which remains the longest-running TV soap opera across the globe.

Bill Roache and Anne Kirkbride
William Roache and Anne Kirkbride, who played on-screen wife Deirdre (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Roache has said he is “immensely grateful” to Coronation Street, as “without the programme I wouldn’t be in this position”.

He added: “I’m delighted to be receiving an OBE as it’s such a wonderful honour. I can’t tell you how proud I am!

“Coronation Street has given me so much in life and I absolutely love the programme and everyone who works on the show.

“It’s a real family behind the scenes and we hope that comes across on screen. Thank you for bestowing this award upon me and long may Coronation Street continue.”

Coronation Street actress Cherylee Houston has said she is similarly “honoured and humbled” to have been made an MBE for services to drama and to people with disabilities.

Houston, 47, who plays Izzy Armstrong in the soap, said: “Equality and inclusion of disabled people is something that’s been very dear to me throughout my career so far.

Cherylee Houston
Cherylee Houston was awarded an MBE for services to drama and to people with disabilities (Ian West/PA)

“It is so important that we are represented in the media and that our stories are told – disabled young people need to see people like themselves on our screens.”

Despite having a reputation for being a bore, Roache’s character has been involved in a number of explosive storylines gripping the show.

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

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.

In 2016, Ken was about to leave on holiday when he had a fight with his son Peter, played by Chris Gascoyne, collapsed and suffered a stroke.

Bill Roache and Rula Lenska
Roache with Rula Lenska, who played on-screen girlfriend Claudia Colby (ITV/PA)

A year later, his character was left fighting for life in hospital after an unknown assailant pushed him down the stairs, with members of his own family among those suspected of attempted murder.

Just before the credits rolled on the soap’s 10,000th episode in February 2020, millions of shocked viewers watched as Ken said he was moving away with his on-screen girlfriend Claudia Colby – played by Rula Lenska.

But Roache will still feature on the show as episodes follow his new life at Still Waters luxury retirement complex.

The popular soap celebrated its 60th birthday in December 2020 with a live episode and ITV also commissioned a portrait of Roache to mark the occasion.

Roache was made an MBE for services to TV drama in the New Year Honours list in 2001.

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