William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, is the longest-running character in Coronation Street, and the longest-serving soap actor in the world.
One of the defining factors of soap operas is how viewers get to grow up alongside their favourite characters.
Unlike films or limited series, avid viewers get to see their favourite characters every day, and if the actor stays with the soapie as it continues for many years, viewers watch them grow up and age right in front of their eyes.
Therefore, with Coronation Street, which first premiered on ITV in 1960, fans have seen characters grow as they have. Acclaimed actor, William Roache, in the role of Ken Barlow, is one such actor.
Roache holds the record for the longest-serving soap opera actor and the longest-running character in Coronation Street as he has been a part of the soap opera since its first episode.
How long would it take to watch all the episodes of Coronation Street?
Having first premiered in 1960, even Coronation Street’s premise touts how long the series has been running, stating, “The world’s longest-running television soap, Coronation Street focuses on the everyday lives of working-class people in Manchester, England,” according to IMDb.
In February 2022, the soap opera celebrated its 10 000th episode. When the show celebrated the milestone, it was reported that you would need to watch the soap opera for six months non-stop, to complete Coronation Street – from episode one to the 10 000.
With the additional two months, the estimate now extends to a few more weeks. But has yet to break the seven-month mark of non-stop watching.
Who is the longest-running character in Coronation Street?
William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, first appeared on Corrie’s cobble street in the first episode of the soap opera.
The acclaimed actor has been with the soap opera since, besides a few sporadic departures and subsequent returns.
Having been with Coronation Street since its inception, Roache is the longest-running character with a record-breaking 61 years and counting in the role of Ken Barlow.
Moreover, Roache is also the longest-serving soap opera actor in the world. Due to his sporadic departures and returns, the longest the actor has been on Coronation Street continuously is 52 years and five months.
Roache’s latest exit was in 2021 after the actor tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, it was feared that the actor would not return to the soapie in light of his health scare and his precarious age which makes him more susceptible to the virus.
However, Coronation Street was quick to dismiss the general public’s fears with a statement that read:
“Following recent reports about his health, William Roache has asked us to clarify that he took time off work after testing positive for Covid. He has recovered well and is looking forward to returning to the cobbles as soon as possible.”
True to the sentiments shared, Roache returned to the set alongside the other more elderly cast members. They returned to the set after the younger cast members returned.
Roache has stated in the past that he plans to work on the soap opera until he is 100 years old. But he is not the only actor that has been with the soap opera for longer than five decades.
Who is the longest-running female character in Coronation Street?
The longest-running female character in Coronation Street is Eileen Derbyshire in the role of Emily Bishop. The acclaimed actress made her first appearance on the soapie in January 1961.
Derbyshire then left the soapie in January 2016 for personal reasons. At the time of her exit she had been on the soap for 55 years. Her longest continuous appearance was over 48 years.
How long has Barbara Knox been on Coronation Street?
Barbara Knox, who played Rita Tanner, first appeared on the show in an episode in December 1964, but only returned formally to reprise her role long-term in 1974 and has been with the soap opera ever since.
In light of Eileen Derbyshire’s retirement, Knox currently holds the record as the longest-serving soap actress with 56 years and counting as the character of Rita Tanner, and she has 48 continuous years as a full-time cast member on Coronation Street.
When does Coronation Street air?
Since Britain’s Got Talent’s semi-finals disrupted television, for the rest of the week, Coronation Street is set to air one episode every weeknight at 19:30.
However, following the end of the semi-finals, the times will change to regular programming. The change will remain for Monday, 31 May 2022 to Friday, 3 June 2022.