Coronation Street star Michael Le Vell told a court today he has never been arrested or cautioned before as he began his defence against child sex allegations.
On the fourth day of his trial, a visibly nervous Le Vell spoke in front of a hushed courtroom packed with reporters as family members and supporters watched from the public gallery.
The actor, 48, took the oath in a trembling voice as he stood, hands clasped with his arms behind his back, in the witness box as Alisdair Williamson, defending, began questions about the defendant's early life, family background and acting career.
The star, who plays car mechanic Kevin Webster in the ITV soap, is accused of 12 charges in all, which are five counts of rape, three of indecent assault, two counts of sexual activity with a child, and two of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.
The alleged offences relate to one complainant and are said to have taken place between September 2002 and September 2010. He is alleged to have raped the girl while she clutched a teddy bear during one attack.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, wept as she told Manchester Crown Court Le Vell told her it was their "little secret".
Le Vell told the jury he was born in Manchester in 1964 and got into acting at school, aged 12, in the play Kes and he had been in Coronation Street for around 30 years.
Mr Williamson said in "all that time" Le Vell had never been in trouble and was, he added: "What we lawyers call a man of good character."
Asked about his drinking, Le Vell said he had the "working-class mentality" of a "bloke" - working, then drinking to unwind - and went to the pub most nights.
"I know it sounds a bit chauvinistic but that's the way I was brought up," he added.
He said he had twice tried Alcoholics Anonymous without success.