Coronation Street's Ken reveals his secret battle with deafness

SOAP legend William Roache has revealed he is partially deaf so has to have special treatment on the Coronation Street set.

• William Roache has 50 per cent hearing after accident in army

The actor, who plays stalwart Ken Barlow, is 50 per cent deaf in both ears and must be given visual cues on Weatherfield's cobbles.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said: "People don't know I have got a hearing problem. Deafness is extremely isolating. I live in a cocooned world. I could be having a normal conversation and certain things I just won't hear. I can't hear watches or alarms, footsteps or the rustling of paper.

"The floor manager has to give me a visual cue, a hand signal, and it is just something that I have learned to live with. I have put up with it all these years."

Roache, 77, said he often has to walk away from conversations because he cannot hear.

"That is where the isolation can creep in, you tend to not want to be in big groups," he said. "I walk past people who have said something and I won't hear it, it gives the appearance of being arrogant, which I like to think I am not.

"My children get embarrassed because I repeat things which have just been said."

The actor turns down social invitations for fear of being unable to hear. "Charity balls are a complete nightmare and I have always avoided pubs. Waitresses come up in restaurants and I can't hear what they are saying," he said.

Roache's hearing loss dates back to when he was a young soldier in the army. The final founding cast member on the ITV soap said: "I was 21, I was an officer, it was a training exercise but with live ammunition, and some over-keen guy pulled the bomb up and I got the full blast of the explosion right by my ear. I could not hear at all for three weeks."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Roache is fronting The Sound Barrier Star Awards, which recognise achievements in people who are hard of hearing.

He had no idea how bad his hearing was until he was tested for the first time, when he agreed to be the face of the awards, and admitted he was "staggered" when he found out how severely damaged his hearing was.

The actor has always refused to wear a hearing aid but was delighted with the results after being fitted with a digital device.