The Star reporter Alex Mason, 23, is an avid Coro fan. She spoke to William Roache aka Ken Barlow about coming to New Zealand next month with the acclaimed stage play COROnation Street On Stage.
William Roache is relaxing in the conservatory of his Manchester home with his jack russell terriers, Poppy and Harry, ahead of his trip to New Zealand next month.
The 80-year-old is looking forward to stepping out of Ken Barlow's shoes and taking on the role of narrator when the stage play COROnation Street On Stage tours the country in March and April.
"It's going to be quite amusing seeing this [other] guy running around being Ken,'' says Roache.
Written by Coronation Street scriptwriter Jonathan Harvey, the stage play takes all the major storylines from the TV show's 50-year history and packs them into two hours of "hysterical'' theatre.
With opening night only five weeks away, Roache has yet to begin rehearsals.
"I haven't got the script yet. I only get about four days to prepare.''
But the seasoned thespian isn't fazed. "You always get a little bit nervous, but it's just going to be an enjoyable experience.''
He's hoping to pack some sightseeing into his first trip to New Zealand.
"We've heard so many lovely things about your country and it's so nice to hear everyone loves the Street so much.''
After beginning his acting career treading the boards more than 50 years ago, Roache is looking forward to returning to the stage.
"The theatre is the place where you learn your craft,'' he says. "The reason you get into theatre is that wonderful excitement of performing for a live audience.''
Roache says COROnation Street On Stage will be enjoyed by Coro fans and first-timers alike.
"You will be entertained and amused. Even if you don't know Coronation Street you'll enjoy the evening in the theatre. And if you do know it, you'll be reminded of all these great stories.''
A large cast of favourites, past and present, are played by only six actors. Roache says it's wonderful to see much-loved characters like Hilda Ogden and Ena Sharples recreated "so beautifully''.
Having played Ken Barlow since Coronation Street's first episode in December 1960, Roache is the world's longest-serving actor in a continuous role.
One of his favourite storylines from his tenure is perhaps the Street's most tangled romance.
"The Ken, Mike, Deirdre triangle really hit the pulse of the nation and the media were all talking about it.''
But it's not all about the dramatics, says Roache. "I like the comedy. When Blanche [actress Maggie Jones] was in the show it was wonderful the banter between her and Ken.''
Understandably, Roache is very fond of the character he's played for five decades. "I like Ken, he's a well-meaning guy. He's got this dysfunctional family and he's always trying to keep the peace. I'm his caretaker.''
But unlike his onscreen persona, viewers might be surprised to learn Roache is not a bookworm. "I don't read books. I read philosophy, you need to ponder those. But I'm such a slow reader. I don't read fiction because I think writing's far more interesting.''
Like Ken Barlow, however, Roache has had a few infidelities in his time. In an interview last year with British broadcaster Piers Morgan, Roache revealed he couldn't remember how many women he'd slept with during his heyday.
"In the 60s I was a very naughty boy ... I misbehaved really badly and broke up my first marriage. But then I had a 31-year-long faithful marriage to Sara [who died in 2009]. So I can talk about the two aspects of life.''
Roache says he feels more like a 50-year-old than an 80-year-old. "I think it's in the genes, as long as you don't abuse those too much. But it's also in knowing who you are.''
He says: "At the heart of every human being is pure love. Once you realise that, life begins to work itself out.''
Leaving the Street is not on the agenda any time soon for the octogenarian. "I'll keep working while I can do it and while they want me here. I'm lucky to have work and I'm lucky it's in such a happy company, and it is a happy company. It's hard work. But I never think of retiring.''
COROnation Street On Stage closes in Christchurch on April 23, with Roache touching down in the UK just in time for his 81st birthday on April 25.