ITV Coronation Street’s Bill Roache reunites with former on-screen wife Anne Reid


Bill Roache, best known for his role as Ken Barlow, is reunited with former screen wife Anne Reid five decades after she left Coronation Street.

Brand new ITV documentary Happy Birthday Bill celebrates the soap actors 90th birthday, as well as his record-breaking time on the show.

Viewers will get to see Bill and Anne reunite for the first time in years, since Anne left the Cobbles over 50 years ago when her character Valerie died at the hands of a faulty hairdryer, reports the Mirror.

When asked what was the highlight of the new doc, Bill said: “Without a doubt meeting up with Anne Reid again after all those years. She played my wife in Coronation Street for eight years and I was very sad when she chose to leave.



Bill said: “It was beautiful to see her again, to me she looks no different.”

“When Valerie died she was due to meet Ken at the Rovers so when she walked through the doors finally 52 years later it was a lovely moment, we both just started laughing. It was beautiful to see her again, to me she looks no different.”

Bill said that Anne admitted she had a crush on him when they starred together on the show.

He added: “She told me that she used to dream about me and I laughed and said don’t you mean nightmares? And then she told me that she had a crush on me, but she never told me at the time!

“She had also given me a silver cup when she left that she had engraved with “We must do it again some time” so it was nice that we finally got that chance.”



Ken Barlow and Valerie's big day in 1962
Ken Barlow and Valerie’s big day in 1962

On the show, Valerie was the mother of the couple’s twins Peter and Susan. She died after electrocuting herself while using a hairdryer, in 1971.

The death came as the couple were planning to move to Jamaica as Ken had secured a teaching job there. Nearly 19million viewers watched her demise her.

Meanwhile, Ken stayed in Weatherfield, re-married three times and clocked up numerous girlfriends.

Talking previously about her time on the soap, Anne said: “I was a basket case when I left! I’d already had too much of it. That kind of work suits some people, but it didn’t suit me.



Bill and Anne on the soap in 1970
Bill and Anne on the soap in 1970

“It was my decision to leave and I was desperate, really desperate, to go. Because I knew I was good at comedy and there was no way that Valerie Barlow was ever going to be funny.”

It was while on the soap that Anne met her husband Peter Eckersley, who was one of the producers. He died at 45 from cancer in 1981, leaving Anne to bring up their then nine-year-old son Mark.

She added: “Peter was very special, hilarious, wonderful. I’ve never met anyone since I admired as much or found as funny or as clever. But I wasn’t a good wife. I’ve never been domesticated. I had an oven installed a few years ago but it’s pristine because I never use it.”

After leaving Corrie, she enjoyed a stellar career starring as Jean in the sitcom Dinnerladies and Celia Dawson in Last Tango in Halifax for which she was nominated for the British Academy Television Award for Best Actress. She has also starred in Doctor Who, Peak Practice and films such as Hot Fuzz.

Bill was married to his first wife Anna Cropper from 1961 until 1974 and had a son Linus and daughter Vanya, who died in 2018 of kidney failure.

Sara, his second wife of more than thirty years, died suddenly in February 2009. Bill and Sara had daughter Verity (born 1981) and son James (born 1985).

Their third child, Edwina, passed away in 1984 from acute bronchial pneumonia.

Happy Birthday Bill is on ITV, Tuesday at 8pm. Coronation Street airs Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm.

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www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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