Ken chalks up 50 years on the Street with his most exciting scenes yet

Diana Pilkington

He's had three wives, his daughter's a murderer and his son's an alcoholic bigamist, but it's all in a day's work -- or 50 years to be more precise -- for William Roache.

The actor has notched up an impressive half-century as Coronation Street's Ken Barlow -- and the 78-year-old has no intention of slowing down just yet.

He was recently awarded the Guinness World Record for longest-serving actor in a TV soap.

But it's only when he stops to think about it that he appreciates what an achievement it is: "It's only in looking back that I can feel a bit of surprise. At the time, you just get on with the job and the years go rolling by.

"It's amazing that not only has the show survived 50 years, but that we're still up there, still winning awards and getting the ratings."

A fresh-faced Ken entered the public consciousness in 1960, in Coronation Street's debut episode, when the actor had originally signed for just 13 episodes.

"I've stayed because it's good and I get total job satisfaction.

"Two or three times a year I get a story as good as anything I'd get anywhere, the standard is good and the bonus is that you're part of a show which gives a lot of pleasure to a lot of people. So, all round, I've never seriously considered leaving... ever."

Now, of course, Ken is in a (largely) stable marriage to Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride). Over the years, however, he's been quite the lothario, with 25 women, including three wives, under his belt.

The changing nature of the soap, the breakneck pace of filming and constant mix of new storylines mean Roache never fails to feel challenged by his work.

And surely no year has been more demanding than this one. As Corrie prepares for its anniversary week, all the stops are being pulled out to impress viewers with a spectacular set of episodes.

From next Monday, December 6, carnage will ensue when a tram crashes off the viaduct and ploughs on to the street, killing off major characters and injuring others.

"The crash is going to be the most exciting thing that's ever happened in Coronation Street. It could be one of the most exciting things that's ever happened on television.

"It was a lot of hard work. We were filming from 7pm until 5am, but it's going to be brilliant."

Coronation Street's 50th anniversary week kicks off on Monday, December 6, with an hour-long live episode on Thursday, December 9