10/06/2013 02:08 BST | Updated 10/06/2013 02:14 BST

Coronation Street actor Bill Roache Faces Court on Historic Sexual Abuse Charges

Roache is the world's longest-serving soap actor
Roache is the world's longest-serving soap actor

Coronation Street star Bill Roache will appear in court today accused of historic sexual offences against five girls.

The veteran actor was charged in May with two counts of raping a 15-year-old girl in East Lancashire in 1967 and last week he faced fresh charges of five indecent assaults involving four girls aged between 11 or 12 and 16.

He appeared before Preston magistrates last Friday when his lawyer said his client was looking forward to standing before a jury to "vigorously protest his innocence" of "deeply upsetting" child sex allegations.

The latest claims arose from the publicity of his arrest at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, on May 1, and his subsequent charging on the same day.

The fresh charges, which relate to separate alleged victims, are said to have been committed in the Manchester area in 1965 and 1968.

Today's preliminary hearing at Preston Crown Court is expected to set a date for a formal plea hearing and also a provisional trial date.

Roache, 81 - the world's longest-serving soap actor - has played Ken Barlow in the ITV1 soap since its launch but will not be appearing in the programme until legal proceedings are concluded.

He is on bail with various conditions including residence, no direct unsupervised contact with anyone under 16 and not to approach alleged victims or named witnesses.

The hearing will take place from 10.30am.