Coronation Street actor William Roache has arrived for his trial on allegations of historic sexual offences against five girls.
The 81-year-old veteran soap star was arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, last May and later charged with two counts of raping a 15-year-old girl in East Lancashire in 1967.
A month later he was additionally charged with five indecent assaults involving four girls aged between 11 or 12 and 16, allegedly committed in the Manchester area between 1965 and 1968.
Wearing a blue suit, Roache arrived at Preston Crown Court ahead of the hearing, together with his sons Linus and James and a security guard.
He was greeted with a large media presence outside the courthouse.
When charged with rape, Roache – who plays Ken Barlow in Coronation Street – issued a statement in which he said he was ‘astounded and deeply horrified’ by the accusations.
He said: “I strenuously deny the allegations and will now focus my full attention on fighting to preserve my innocence in the challenging times ahead.
“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all those people who have offered me their support and good wishes at this difficult time.”
Roache later formally pleaded not guilty to the seven counts he faces. The world’s longest-serving soap actor has not appeared in Coronation Street while the legal proceedings are going on.
He has been on bail since his arrest with various conditions including residence, no direct unsupervised contact with anyone under 16 and not to approach named witnesses.
The trial at Preston Crown Court is scheduled to last up to four weeks.