Coronation Street star William Roache discusses life, love and loss for Ken Barlow and himself…

What fascinates Ken about Martha?
“It’s a meeting of minds. He’s always been searching for some idealistic thing in his life and she fits that bill. She’s part of his dream and he is something she’s looking for, too. Also there’s a companionship, a fully-rounded relationship, it wasn’t just sex initially. We’re getting past the age of stripping off and leaping into bed, although there’s a bit of that.”

Do you think it will be a happy ever after for Ken and Martha?
“Martha is a wonderful, wonderful dream, which he would like to make real. But when he gets to the realities of it, like meeting her friends in London and one or two other things like that, it begins to change. The little dream of sitting on the barge and chatting about films and having a glass of wine isn’t all it is and I think he begins to see that.”

It is just a couple of months since the loss of your own wife, Sara. How have you coped with that?
“Sara was very vital, very dynamic. That’s why it was such a shock, I had three weeks out, but when I came back I wasn’t really ready. I couldn’t feel things. It was difficult to begin with.”

Has getting back to work helped?
“It was a shame that it happened right in the middle of the story. Initially, work did not help, but having got through that, I think later on it became helpful.”

Do you ever think of retiring?
“No. It has never been an option for me or Ken. I was surprised and delighted by this love affair. I thought he might have been getting into the realms of not having any more. People say they’re enjoying the story and they believe it and that is the greatest compliment because we try to be truthful in everything we do.”

What about Deirdre?
“I think Deirdre is Ken’s soulmate, but he has these fantasies and Martha is his dream. There’s no harm in trying to follow your dreams, but rarely can they become the reality. He and Deirdre obviously love each other, they’ve been through so much. But he does want something more…”

What has it been like working with Stephanie Beacham?
“We could feel it, we believed it and it’s lovely when that happens. I think it worked really well. I enjoyed doing it and Stephanie was great to work with.”

We hear it was pretty cold on that barge?
“It’s a story that should have been done in the summer. In fact, they had to break the ice when they threw the dog in at the beginning. Then when I heard they were building an interior set I thought, ‘Great, at least we’ll be warm.’ But no. It was built in a freezing area and we had to wear thermals!”