William Roache 'perfect gentleman', Coronation Street star tells trial

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Media captionAnne Kirkbride, Chris Gascoyne and Helen Worth arrived at Preston Crown Court to defend their co-star

Coronation Street actor William Roache was "always a perfect gentleman", his on-screen wife has told a court.

Anne Kirkbride, who plays Deirdre Barlow, was one of a number of cast members giving evidence at the actor's trial at Preston Crown Court.

Mr Roache, 81, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, denies two rapes and four indecent assaults against five women aged 16 or under between 1965 and 1971.

He was cleared of one indecent assault on the judge's direction on Monday.

Asked what she thought of Mr Roache, Ms Kirkbride said if she was to describe him in one word, it would be "lovely".

The actor, who joined the soap in 1972, smiled at Mr Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, as she delivered her evidence.

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Image caption Chris Gascoyne, who plays Peter Barlow, said Mr Roache was "fantastic"

Following her, Chris Gascoyne, who plays the actor's son Peter in the soap opera, said Mr Roache was "fantastic", "very calm, relaxed," and a person who "takes every day as a new day which is inspiring to me".

"Bill sets the precedent for everyone. He is decent and kind to everybody," he said.

Helen Worth, who plays neighbour Gail McIntyre, described Mr Roache as "a father figure, an elder statesman".

"He was caring, never anything more. Just caring. What more can a man be? He was lovely," she said.

Ms Worth, 63, was "extremely nervous" when she joined the show in 1974, aged 23, the court heard.

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Image caption Helen Worth, who plays neighbour Gail McIntyre, smiled at Mr Roache when she left the witness box

She said: "But Bill perhaps was caring more and welcoming to me then.

"And [he] has been to every new member of the cast since," she added.

Asked by Louise Blackwell QC, defending, if she had seen Mr Roache in the company of young female cast members.

She said that she had and that she "never saw anything that was untoward whatsoever in 40 years".

Ms Worth smiled at Mr Roache when she left the witness box. Mr Roache waved back from the dock.

Mr Roache is the longest-serving member of the Coronation Street cast, having portrayed Ken Barlow since the soap began in 1960.

The case continues.

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