Coronation Street’s Bill Roache defends soap’s darker storylines

The actor has appeared on the cobbles in his role for more than 50 years.

Press Association
Last updated: 12 June 2018 - 12.11am

Coronation Street actor Bill Roache has defended the soap’s recent run of darker storylines, saying the show must adapt and change to bring in younger viewers.

The actor, who has played Ken Barlow on the ITV soap since it began in 1960, said the serial drama is a “balancing act” that must cover a wide array of topics to appeal to audiences across the generations.

Commenting on recent storylines in the soap, which included murderer Pat Phelan’s revenge plot and his subsequent gory death, Roache told the Radio Times magazine: “You had a very strong character in Phelan, who offered a powerful storyline.

“But it’s like life: everything passes. Coronation Street may be going through a phase you don’t like, but it’ll pass into a phase you do.

“It should try to entertain you with its humour and grip with its drama. It’s a balancing act – you need to attract youngsters without alienating the elderly.”

Roache added: “And every so often, it’ll lurch one way when it follows something particularly strong. You will find older people saying, ‘Oh, it’s not what it was’.

“But if it wasn’t adapting and changing, then it wouldn’t be bringing in new, younger viewers.”

Referring to the suicide tangent involving Aidan Connor, who took his own life after battling with mental health issues, 86-year-old Roache said: “Well, Ken himself once attempted suicide and Bet Lynch saved him.”

Coronation Street
Pat Phelan, played by Connor McIntyre, dies in Coronation Street (ITV)

Referring to the character played by Roy Barraclough on Corrie in the 1980s and 1990s, Roache added: “The only thing I really remember though is Alec Gilroy saying, ‘Oh, he’s always doing things like that’.”

He said that was a “fine example of the humour of the Street”.

Roache added that “anything that happens in life is acceptable in Coronation Street, but it’s the way they handle it that’s important”, and that the programme’s creators make sure “it’s all treated with the right level of responsibility”.

The full interview is in Radio Times, out now.

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