He holds the Guinness World Record for being the longest-running TV soap star but does Coronation Street legend William Roache plan to retire any time soon? We wouldn’t put any bets on it.
Fans need not worry as the actor is more than happy to stay on the cobbles ahead of celebrating his 90th birthday. Bill is being celebrated in a new, one-off documentary that airs on ITV tonight (April 19) ahead of his milestone moment on April 25.
Bill has starred as Ken Barlow in the ITV soap for more than 60 years, appearing in the very first episode on December 9, 1960. Happy Birthday Bill, will not only celebrate Bill’s life as he turns 90 but also his career by looking back on his legacy and achievements over the years.
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It will feature special appearances from past and present Corrie cast members, as well as his own family as they help him look back on the moments and the people who have helped shape both Bill himself and his patriarchal character Ken.
ITV also revealed last month that during the documentary, viewers will catch a rare glimpse of Bill’s life off set at home with his family, as well as his experiences behind the scenes on the Salford-based cobbles that he has called home since the soap began
And those who are fans of the Barlow patriarch can expect to see him on-screen for much longer as he says he has “no intention of retiring” despite being quizzed on the matter.
“People will say when are you retiring? Are you going to take a break? But then what happens?” Bill said. “While I can do it, and whilst they will have me, I have no intention of retiring. I am so fortunate to work for an organization that is happy to have me.”
Asked about the secret to his success and still working at 90, he said: “I suppose I always feel like I’m learning. You know, people ask me if the younger ones ask me for advice and I say no, they’re all so good and confident that I feel I should ask them.
“I always feel I’m still growing up. I never feel grown up in life anyway. And then I’ve always got things to learn. Working with people like Chris Gascoyne and so many other members of the cast is so good. It’s such a privilege.”
He also said the aging process is “just experiencing things as you go along. Doesn’t necessarily mean deterioration. That’s the sad thing, the collective consciousness of humanity says you live to 70 and start to deteriorate towards the end”.
He added: “If you genuinely believe that you’re deteriorating then you will deteriorate. But you don’t have to buy into that belief. People say ‘Oh, I’m a bit old for that’. Nonsense if you want to do something, it shouldn’t matter what age you are. Value your time as you get older. Enjoyment is the key. If you enjoy doing something, keep doing it.”
Happy Birthday Bill will also see Bill reveal his secret to being fit at 90 – a weekly exercise class with school games like Tag Zombie and star jumps.
“It’s such a lovely group of people of all ages from five to me at 90. It’s not like going to the gym and doing a heavy serious workout. It’s called funfit for a reason. We play games like tag zombies. It’s like a form of school game, you’re chasing around. We’re doing things that we enjoy all the time. It’s good to be together.”
Not only that, the special episode will see the soap stalwart reunited with actress Anne Reid, who played Ken’s first wife Valerie, who in the soap died after being electrocuted by her hairdryer. “She played my wife in Coronation Street for eight years and I was very sad when she chose to leave,” he said.
“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 .”