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Coronation Street’s Bill Roache, 88, is spotted for the first time since his recovery from secret coronavirus battle

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CORRIE’S Bill Roache, 88, has been spotted for the first time since his secret battle with coronavirus was revealed. 

The veteran actor, who plays Ken Barlow in the long-running ITV soap, was last seen on TV screens in early March.

Bill was seen looking fit as a fiddle after battling coronavirus

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Bill was seen looking fit as a fiddle after battling coronavirusCredit: Splash

Bill, 88, was seen today for the first time since The Sun revealed his ill health forced him to be written out of the ITV soap so he could focus on his recovery.

Driving his silver Audi, the TV legend looked like he was suitably wrapped up for his day out with a scarf around his neck.

Fans of the actor will be pleased to see the longtime star is up and about after a bout of the deadly virus.

Bill, who plays Ken Barlow, asked bosses for time off after becoming unwell.

The longtime soap star was bundled up against the cold

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The longtime soap star was bundled up against the coldCredit: Splash
Friends of Bill say his good health is down to listening to his body and taking time off when it needs it

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Friends of Bill say his good health is down to listening to his body and taking time off when it needs itCredit: Splash
The actor was last seen on screen in early March

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The actor was last seen on screen in early MarchCredit: Splash

A Coronation Street spokesman said: “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.”

Sources told The Sun Bill was reluctant to take a break from the cobbles amid fears he might not return.

An insider said: “For Bill to take time off is extremely unusual.

Bill holds the world record for the longest continuous stint in any drama

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Bill holds the world record for the longest continuous stint in any dramaCredit: PA:Press Association

“He loves work and he’s as passionate about being on Coronation Street as ever, but he realised he had to listen to his own body.

“The reason he’s been able to work for so long and so passionately is he’s always looked after himself, and he still does, so he’ll be back as soon as it makes sense.

“Obviously, his time off has coincided with Covid too, where a number of the older stars are being kept away from the set anyway to be on the safe side.

“But because he asked for a break, the writers had to formulate a storyline around him to keep his character out completely for quite some time.

William appeared in the very first episode of Corrie back in 1960

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William appeared in the very first episode of Corrie back in 1960Credit: PA

“They already have ideas for how they would like to bring Ken back in later this summer — and everyone will be pleased to see him, along with the rest of the cast back together in the same place.”

Sources said Bill — who last appeared in Corrie on March 10 — was reluctant to take the time off amid fears he might not return. But he has told bosses he is determined to be back on screen later this year.

He holds the world record for the longest continuous stint in any drama — having been on Coronation Street since its first episode in 1960.

His character has become the cobbles’ elder statesman — despite a chaotic personal life.

Bill's character Ken Barlow is the cobbles' elder statesmen

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Bill’s character Ken Barlow is the cobbles’ elder statesmenCredit: Rex Features

Ken has married four times to three women, had multiple affairs and was involved in a long-standing feud with nemesis Mike Baldwin, played by the late Johnny Briggs.

Bill has frequently spoken of his desire to never leave the soap.

He insisted at its 60th anniversary: “While I can do it and they want me, I will be there.

Bill has enjoyed a colourful career

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Bill has enjoyed a colourful careerCredit: Rex

“Retirement is not on the radar at all, I have no plans for that.

“I don’t even like to think about how they’d write Ken out if I did leave, because hopefully that is never going to happen.”

The last 12 months has seen the soap beset by delays and filming challenges — including shutting down production entirely at the start of the pandemic.

Bosses later introduced filming ­bubbles with special regimes including social distancing and no physical contact between stars to avoid infections.

Scenes involving kissing or fighting have been rewritten, or body doubles made up of real life couples brought in.

Many of the show’s oldest characters have been largely kept away from set throughout the worst of the pandemic — although Bill’s time off was arranged separately from that.

Other older stars include Barbara Knox, 86, who plays Rita, Sue Nicholls, 77, who plays Audrey, and David Neilson, 72, who plays Roy.

Last year a TV source said: “It’s a huge risk to remove some of Corrie’s biggest stars, but far riskier to allow them on set.”



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