Thursday 25 May 2017

William Roache 'feared for job' after Ken Barlow stroke storyline

Peter Barlow, played by Chris Gascoyne, at the bedside of his father Ken, played by William Roache (Mark Bruce/ITV/PA Wire)
Peter Barlow, played by Chris Gascoyne, at the bedside of his father Ken, played by William Roache (Mark Bruce/ITV/PA Wire)
Ken and Deirdre first wedding in 1981.
Ken and Deirdre's second wedding in 2005.
LOVE TRIANGLE: 'Coronation Street' actors William Roache (left), who played Ken Barlow and Johnny Briggs who played Mike Baldwin with Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre Barlow

Coronation Street actor William Roache has revealed the stroke storyline involving Ken Barlow made him "paranoid" about his job.

In shocking scenes aired on Monday night's episode, Ken had a huge fight with his son Peter Barlow (returning actor Chris Gascoyne).

Just as he was about to leave for his holiday, Ken collapsed and suffered a stroke in the hallway.

The 84-year-old actor told Press Association and other media at a Coronation Street event in central Manchester that when he initially heard about the plot from executive producer Kate Oates, he was fearful for his job.

Ken and Deirdre first wedding in 1981.
Ken and Deirdre first wedding in 1981.

"Well when I first heard about it I was a bit paranoid - first thing I said was do I get better?" said Roache. "And then I said the only thing I want is medical advice to make sure we're medically correct."

Asked if the storyline made him think about his own health, the actor reiterated: "No - it made me feel paranoid about my job. You're quite right in a sense that I don't act, I try to be. So to be having a stroke is not good, you set things going in your body.

"But I do protect myself from that, I tell myself I'm just an actor enjoying playing this. But on the other hand, as an actor to have something positive to do is brilliant, and I just love it."

Meanwhile, when asked how long he could see himself continuing in the ITV soap for, Roache revealed that he would like to work until he's at least 100.

Ken and Deirdre's second wedding in 2005.
Ken and Deirdre's second wedding in 2005.

"It would be good to be the first centurian actor still in a soap," said the actor, who has starred in Corrie for 56 years.

With the stroke storyline, Roache said that he wanted to ensure that what went on screen was "medically correct".

LOVE TRIANGLE: 'Coronation Street' actors William Roache (left), who played Ken Barlow and Johnny Briggs who played Mike Baldwin with Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre Barlow
LOVE TRIANGLE: 'Coronation Street' actors William Roache (left), who played Ken Barlow and Johnny Briggs who played Mike Baldwin with Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre Barlow

He added: "As an actor, you don't act the deformity, you act trying to speak through it. So I thought 'Well if I bite my tongue like that and trying to talk like that...' she [Manchester stroke specialist Pippa Tyrell] said perfect, that's it. So I was very happy.

"Later on, I stopped biting my tongue and would just speak out of the corner of my mouth. So yes it's been.. as an actor it's good to have something to do like that, but you want to get it right, which I think we did.

"Someone said I sounded like Marlon Brando, but maybe Marlon Brando sounded like me? I don't know.

"All you do is you let your voice hang out, speaking slowly and gesticulate a bit more. So I don't mind having something in common with Marlon Brando."

Roache also heaped praise on producer Kate Oates, who joined Coronation Street from Emmerdale earlier this year and has brought back two returning male Barlow characters that will be on screen soon: Adam Barlow (returning actor Sam Robertson) and Daniel Barlow (Rob Mallard).

"She is absolutely wonderful, and when she told me about this I was absolutely thrilled to bits," he enthused.

"The Barlows have always been female with Blanche and Deirdre and the two children," said Roache. "And suddenly it's four males. They have a scene round the bed in the hospital, and I actually felt this sense of family.

"It was really quite exciting, and I hope we'll become like a Mafia family - we in-fight like crazy, but if anybody else attacks us - we'll go out and get them."

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