Coronation Street actor Bill Roache appeared at Preston Magistrates Court on Tuesday (May 14, 2013) accused of raping a 15-year-old girl. The 81-year-old, who has played Ken Barlow since the legendary soap's launch, is charged with two counts of rape dating back to 1967. Photographers and journalists jostled for position outside court today as Roache smiled and even signed a couple of autographs in the public waiting area before stepping into the courtroom.

Dressed in a navy suit with striped blue shirt and white tie, Roache appeared relaxed and yawned as he waited for proceedings to begin, reports The Sun. He was led to the witness box where he confirmed his full name, address and date of birth. The actor made no statement as he left the court and was driven back to his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire.

After his arrest on May 1, Roache said he was "astounded and deeply horrified by the extraordinary events" of the accusations. "I strenuously deny the allegations and will now focus my full attention on fighting to preserve my innocence in the challenging times ahead," he said, adding, "I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all those people who have offered me their support and good wishes at this difficult time."

He has been bailed to appear for a preliminary hearing at Preston Crown Court on June 10.

Roache's Coronation Street co-star Michael Le Vell is currently awaiting his trial date, on numerous sex offense charges. Both have been suspended from duties on the nation's favourite soap.

William RoacheWilliam Roache Leaving His Home After Apologising For An Inappropriate Comment He Made On A New Zealand News Channel