CORONATION Street actor William Roache has cancelled his scheduled appearance at this month's Malpas Arts and Literature Festival.

The 81-year-old was due to appear 'In Conversation' at the event due to be held in the village from Thursday, May 16-Sunday May 19, to talk about his life and career in television.

But after Mr Roache was this week charged with two counts of rape involving a 15-year-old girl in the 1960s, the soap veteran cancelled his appearance at Malfest, leaving organisers with just weeks to find a replacement for him.

The veteran actor is Britain's longest serving soap star, having played Ken Barlow in the show since its first episode in December 1960.

Granada TV has confirmed that Mr Roache will not be appearing on the TV show while the police investigation is ongoing.

But despite the setback, it is hoped Malfest will enjoy another successful year, with iconic author Fay Weldon and TV gardening expert Monty Don on the bill, and appearances from Edinburgh Fringe star and comedian Mervyn Stutter and The New Rope String Band.

And actress and puppeteer Ruth Rogers who played Joey the horse in the hit West End show War Horse will share her secrets of the stage and be speaking about how the horses are made so life-like.

Mr Roache, who strenuously denies the allegations against him, will appear at Preston Magistrates' Court on May 14.