Tony Warren used to get ideas for 'Coronation Street' character names from gravestones.

Bill Roache

Bill Roache

Bill Roache, who has portrayed Ken Barlow on the ITV soap since the very first episode on December 9, 1960, has revealed the show's creator used to walk around cemeteries looking for name inspiration for his now-famous characters.

He said: "I remember him telling me when he needed family names he used to walk around the graveyards to get the names from there.

"But he was always bubbling over with ideas and energy. Just a lovely man to be with."

Bill has recalled Tony - who died in March 2016 aged 79 - was an "incredible man", and he praised the 'Corrie' creator for pursuing his idea of a show about a little Salford backstreet, even after his initial proposal was rejected by Granada Television's founder Sidney Bernstein.

He said: "Tony was an incredible man and after a while he sort of drifted away.

"But he was always interesting to talk to.

"If you talked to him about any subject he would sort of widen it out into something different.

"And of course, as a young man he had to fight all the feelings against doing something like this.

"I think the Bernsteins felt people wanted escapism, and they didn't want this realism coming in.

"Tony was the first one."

Bill has also heaped praise on ITV for "nurturing" 'Corrie', which celebrated its 60th anniversary on December 9th.  

He added: "We have to salute ITV for being here for all these years.

"ITV has nurtured it and encouraged it all along, and we're so grateful for the whole company for doing that."

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