William Roache didn't want to star in Coronation Street

Coronation Street actor William Roache has revealed that he initially didn’t want to star in the ITV soap.

It’s hard to imagine a world where Ken Barlow doesn’t frequent the cobbles, but it was seemingly at once a possibility, as actor William reveals he wasn’t all that keen to star in the soap.

‘I went to the 1960 Granada Television audition for Ken Barlow not wanting the job, said William, ‘I had just filmed the lead in a television play. The play of the week on the Wednesday night was always a highlight and I had the lead in it.

‘Now this was a big career break. And I filmed it at Granada. But unbeknown to me, while I was doing that Tony Warren took the casting people down to the studios, pointed to me and said, ‘He’s the one I want for Ken Barlow.’

‘I just thought Coronation Street was a new little local show. I had my flat in London and I was waiting for this TV play to come out. When Granada said they wanted me, I said, ‘No, I’ve got this play coming out. I don’t want to do it.’ But my agent persuaded me to do the pilot because I wasn’t doing anything else. 

“Then my agent said, ‘They want you Bill.’ I replied, ‘I’ve told you, I’ve got my flat in London and I’m waiting for this play…’ He said, ‘Coronation Street is only going to run for 11 weeks.

‘So look at it this way. In one of those weeks you will go out on the Monday and the Friday in Coronation Street and on the Wednesday you will have the lead in the play. What a great shop window.’ And I thought, ‘Yeah. I like that.’ So I said, ‘Yes, I’ll do it.’ 

“And then, of course, the minute Coronation Street hit the screen…wow. It took off. Because it was this new realism sweeping through the theatre and on to TV. I remember the director walking in and saying, ‘What’s going on? What have we got here?’

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