Coronation Street’s Bill Roache, 89, reunites with his first on-screen wife Anne Reid – 51 YEARS after she was killed by a faulty hairdryer
Coronation Street legend Bill Roache is set to be reunited with his first on-screen wife Anne Reid – 51 years after she was killed off.
In scenes set to air in an upcoming documentary to celebrate his 90th birthday, the Ken Barlow actor, 89, said it was a ‘lovely moment’ to see the actress again after she was killed off by a faulty hairdryer in 1971.
Bill, who remains Corrie’s only original star from its inception in 1960, also discovered that Anne, who played his first wife Valerie, had a secret crush on him during her eight-year stint on the soap.
Back together! Coronation Street legend Bill Roache, 89, is set to be reunited with his first on-screen wife Anne Reid – 51 years after she was killed off
Asked about the highlight of the documentary, Bill told The Mirror: ‘When Valerie died she was due to meet Ken at the Rovers so when she walked through the doors finally 52 years later it was a lovely moment, we both just started laughing. It was beautiful to see her again, to me she looks no different.’
He also revealed that Anne made the surprise confession that she had a secret crush on him during filming.
Ken’s first wife Valerie was mother to his twin sons Peter and Susan, but she was tragically killed after electrocuting herself on a faulty hairdryer, in scenes watched by nearly 19 million viewers.
Blast from the past: The Ken Barlow actor said it was a ‘lovely moment’ to see the actress again after she was killed off by a faulty hairdryer in 1971
Iconic: Anne starred as Ken’s first wife on Coronation Street for eight years until she was killed off in 1971 after being electrocuted by a hairdryer (pictured in 1969)
Discussing her time on the soap, Anne said: ‘It was my decision to leave and I was desperate, really desperate, to go. Because I knew I was good at comedy and there was no way that Valerie Barlow was ever going to be funny.’
It was during her time on the soap that Anne also met her husband Peter Eckersley, one of the show’s producers, and they were married until he died of cancer in 1981.
She added: ‘Peter was very special, hilarious, wonderful. I’ve never met anyone since I admired as much or found as funny or as clever. But I wasn’t a good wife.’
Since leaving Corrie, Anne has landed a slew of major roles including Jean in Dinnerladies and Celia Dawson in Last Tango in Halifax for which she was nominated for a British Academy Television Award for Best Actress.
Over: Anne quit Corrie in 1971 because she wanted to explore comedy acting, admitting at the time she was ‘really desperate’ to leave (pictured in 1970)
Of course this would not be Ken’s last marriage on the cobbles, as he went onto have a fleeting union with Janet Reid from 1973 to 1977, before wedding his longtime love Deirdre, from 1981 to 1992, and again from 2005 until her death in 2015 .
Bill is set to take center stage in a documentary marking his 90th birthday, having made his Corrie debut 62 years ago, with stars old and new looking back at his lengthy stint and some of Ken’s most iconic storylines.
The actor was married to his first wife Anna Cropper from 1961 until 1974, and they had a son Linus, and a daughter Vanya, who died in 2018.
He then wed his second wife Sara who died suddenly in 2009, and they had daughter Verity and son James, and a daughter Edwina who died in 1984.
Happy Birthday Bill airs on Tuesday at 8pm on ITV. Coronation Street airs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm.
Tragic: Ken’s first wife Valerie was mother to his twin sons Peter and Susan, but she was tragically killed after electrocuting herself on a faulty hairdryer (pictured in 1962)