SOAP star Bill Roache raped a 15-year-old girl at two of his Haslingden homes, a court heard.

Roache, Coronation Street’s Ken Barlow since 1960, used ‘his position and fame’ to obtain sexual gratification, a jury at Preston Crown Court was told.

The actor, 81, denies two counts of rape and a further five counts of indecent assault between 1965 and 1971.

At the start of the trial, Mr Justice Holroyde QC told the jury to separate the real-life Roache from his TV character.

The alleged rapes, which the victim, a virgin at the time, claims took place between April 1 and October 11 in 1967, were reported in March 2013.

The court heard how Anne Kirkbride, Chris Gascoyne and Helen Worth, who play the Coronation Street characters Deirdre Barlow, Peter Barlow and Gail Platt, will be called as witnesses during the trial, which is expected to last four weeks.

The judge stressed to the jury that Ken Barlow was not on trial.

Mr Justice Holroyde said: “You must separate the fictional character from the real person, you will have to decide verdicts from the evidence you will hear from a real person, about a real person.

“So you must put out of your mind any views you might or might not have, favourable or unfavourable, of the fictional character Ken Barlow.”

Outlining the first alleged rape, Miss Whyte for the prosecution said: “She [the alleged victim] describes how upon entering the address and without any preliminaries, the defendant led her along a corridor to a double bedroom.”

Miss Whyte then detailed how Roache, married with two young children at the time, allegedly pushed his victim on to a bed and raped her. She added: “He did not attempt to kiss her or sweet-talk her in any way. She describes it being uncomfortable and to feeling panic-stricken. She had never had sex before. Afterwards it was as if nothing had happened.”

The court heard how the alleged rape victim came forward last March after discussing other scandals involving Jimmy Savile with her son.

Four alleged victims of indecent assault then came forward after Roache was charged last May.

One alleged victim, then 14, had visited the Granada set in 1965 for a talent show and afterwards she saw Roache and recognised him.

Miss Whyte said. “She and her friend ended up in a dressing room with the defendant and other actors.”

She said Roache led one of the girls by the arm to the men’s toilet, where he allegedly made her commit a sex act on him. Afterwards, he sent her a letter and signed photograph of himself, which will be shown to the jury later in the trial.

Miss Whyte described the letter as “a sort of grooming, as we would nowadays call it.”