Coronation Street's William Roache – known as Bill – was welcomed onto the This Morning sofa to talk to Phil and Holly about his new book, Life and Soul, and upcoming 90th birthday next Monday.
And the soap icon – who has played Weatherfield icon Ken Barlow since the show’s very first episode in December 1960 admitted that despite romances with dozens of women as the bookish on-screen lothario, it’s the Queen he has a crush on in real life, dating back to a meeting in 1953.
After discussing his life, work and ways he stays young in outlook as his milestone birthday approaches, Holly Willoughby turned the conversation round to the Queen, who celebrated her 96th birthday this week.
“Somebody else who's celebrating a big birthday today is our Majesty the Queen, who you have met many, many times,” said Holly. “Was one of the first times when you were 21? Did you have a bit of a crush on her majesty, was it fair to say?”
“I did, and I don't know if I should have said that!” laughed the actor who is in the Guinness Book of Records for playing the same character longer than any other soap star.
“But she was so beautiful!” admitted Bill. “It was her first Commonwealth tour in 1953 and I was with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in charge of the security of the Caribbean,” he explained, looking back to his army career, just a few years before landing the role that was to change his life.
“And so she came to us and we had a day with her,” he recalled.
Bill then thought back to a recent reunion with our monarch, at Coronation Street’s Manchester base.
“You know she came to the set last year and I reminded her about that and she remembered that tour very well,” revealed Bill. “She's still as bright as a button, her eyes are beautifully blue…”
Phillip Schofield then chipped in with his own take on the Queen’s radiance, saying: “She's got the best skin as well hasn't she?”
Smiling broadly, Bill shared his feelings about what it’s like to meet the Queen, adding: “She listens and she likes to be amused. Wonderful!”
On her visit in 2021, our long-serving monarch met some of the soap’s veteran performers such as Barbara Knox, Sue Nicholls and Helen Worth, as well as Bill.
And that visit will no doubt have reminded her of the trip in 1982, when she was accompanied by Prince Philip, and came for a tour of Granada TV’s newly built set for the show.
The royal party were pictured meeting the stars who played Weatherfield legends Albert Tatlock, Deirdre Barlow, Emily Bishop and Mavis Riley, as well as Bill.
Despite his record breaking run as Ken, Bill admitted he has no plans to retire, telling Phil and Holly, “While I can do it and they want me, I’ll be there.”
While Bill's new book Life and Soul celebrates staying fit and healthy, as a younger man he lived a wilder life, making frontpage news with a revelation that suggested that William Roache had enjoyed far more success with women than his onscreen alter ego.
And with Bill's impressive zest for life, it's hard to rule out another romance on the cobbles for the character whose love triangle with wife Deirdre and rival Mike Baldwin was one of the show's biggest storylines.
On the night Deirdre decided to stay with Ken, they even flashed up 'Ken 1 Mike 0' on a scoreboard at Man Utd's Old Trafford ground.
But what possible storylines can the writers have left for the man who’s had screen romances as Ken with stars including Joanna Lumley, Stephanie Beacham, Rula Lenska and Amanda Barrie?
This Morning airs Monday to Friday on ITV. Coronation Street is on Monday, Wednesday and Friday on ITV.
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