Bill Roache is mourning the death of his eldest daughter, Vanya, who sadly passed away last week at the age of 50. The 85-year-old actor, who stars in Coronation Street as Ken Barlow, has been granted compassionate leave in the wake of the tragedy, with show bosses reportedly telling the star to take as much time off as he needs. It is the third time Bill has lost a close family member, following the sudden death of his second wife Sara Mottram in 2009, at the age of 58. The couple's daughter Edwina died from pneumonia at just 18 months, in 1983.
Bill Roache pictured with his late wife, Sara Mottram, in 2006
An insider told the Sun: "Bill is utterly heartbroken. No father should have to go through the loss of a child, let alone two. ITV are giving him all the time he needs but he's understandably very upset. After hearing the news on Friday, he's been told to take as long as required. There's no word just yet on when he will return."
Vanya was Bill's eldest daughter from his first marriage to ex-wife Anna Cropper. The former couple, who were married from 1961 until 1974, are also parents to a son, actor Linus Roache. Bill married his second wife Sara in 1978. They welcomed daughter Verity (born 1981) and son James, christened William (born 1985). Their third child, little Edwina, passed away on 16 November 1984 from acute bronchial pneumonia.
Bill has played Coronation Street's Ken Barlow since 1960
Bill has been playing Ken Barlow since 1960, making him the world's longest-serving male TV star in a continuous role. Just last month, he said he wants to keep working on Coronation Street for as long as he's physically able. "I never think about [retiring]," Bill told the Radio Times. "I enjoy what I'm doing and I'm lucky in that I'm in a job where I can age. I'm actually falling to bits in front of people's eyes and that's what I'm meant to do. If I were playing James Bond, I'd grow out of the age where I could play the role. But Ken Barlow is me – he's getting older and I'm getting older with him."