The day the Earth moved for Cosmic Ken: Forget the Mayan doomsday next Friday… Corrie actor Bill Roache predicted the end last WEDNESDAY
22:45 GMT, 15 December 2012
Maybe the Moon is in the seventh house in Weatherfield. Then again, perhaps it’s just that Jupiter is aligned with Mars in the firmament above the Rovers Return.
But, whatever, Bill Roache, aka the nation’s beloved Coronation Street stalwart, womanising Ken Barlow, is celebrating the dawning of his Age of Aquarius. With a pot of Yorkshire tea.
This is a big day for Bill. Not just because there are three Coronation Street scenes, including a wedding, to film, but because it is December 12.
Cosmic: Bill Roache, a self-confessed disciple of spiritual truth and the mystical movement of pure love, predicted that the Earth will cleanse itself and material and negative things will collapse and cease to be
And for those who read the runes, this is the day that Bill, a self-confessed disciple of spiritual truth and the mystical movement of ‘pure love’, predicted that ‘the Earth will cleanse itself and material and negative things will collapse and cease to be’.
To the non-enlightened among us that means something BIG is going to happen. Some thought it meant the world was going to end.
So, as he sprawls amid the cream-carpeted splendour of his Wilmslow cottage, is the Earth moving for avuncular Bill, now 80 and the unlikely, though legendary, lothario of the cobbled streets ‘Well, I am feeling very energised today so something must be happening,’ he says.
But wasn’t the world well, going to implode Bill sighs wearily. ‘What I meant by the material world collapsing was that war, famine, poverty . . . the bankers and their terrible greed, the civil unrest across the globe, all these damaging aspects of our world are gradually going to be swept away,’ he says.
‘I never said the world was going to end today or any other day,’ he adds with a flash of those periwinkle-blue eyes that have, it is said, wooed and helped him bed 1,000 lovers.
And that’s in real life.
Spiritual: Bill Roache is pictured in white robes to herald the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge a number of years ago
As his alter ego, Casanova Ken, he is on his third wife and has had 24 girlfriends. And while his latest (real-life) dalliance with weather girl Emma Jesson, 43, is over, Bill, it transpires, now has an altogether more pure mission: getting across his message of love and enlightenment.
That was why he called time on his romance with Emma.
‘Emma’s a beautiful, kind, supportive women,’ he concedes. ‘Probably everything a man could want.
'But I’m at a point where I am trying to rise above personal things and give myself over totally to getting this message out. It sounds a bit harsh, but I don’t have room for a relationship. I don’t want a full-on relationship or marriage. What I am doing is so fulfilling that there is no need for anything else. I want to devote myself to being pure love and getting this message over.’
Bill isn’t fazed that his rantings have been misinterpreted as a premonition that the world will end on this day, or when one newspaper wrongly linked his assertions to a Mayan belief that it will end on December 21.
‘I’m used to being labelled a nutter or Oddball Ken,’ he shrugs. So what, then, is Cosmic Ken’s message It all began when Bill gave an interview to Silent Voices, a paranormal magazine.
He is a long-time spiritualist who has dabbled with Druidism, mixes with mediums and psychics and claims he gets regular spiritual messages from his late wife Sara.
He even says he hears from the late Bill Tarmey, who played veteran Corrie character Jack Duckworth.
A self-confessed disciple of spiritual truth who attends twice-monthly meetings with like-minded mortals, Bill Roache predicted that on December 12 the world would move into a higher vibration and enter a new era.
‘This,’ he proclaimed, ‘will be the Golden Age when a majority will know that they are love and they are spiritual beings.’
Spiritual quest: Linus Roache, left, son of veteran Coronation Street actor, Bill. Linus said his father has been a great influence on his beliefs
For those of us not yet acquainted with such matters, I guess that means the world will become a better place. Although according to Bill it’s not quite that simple. ‘What is happening, and I can really feel some enormous energy running through me today, is the inward journeying and the awakening,’ he says with a telling nod. ‘The realisation that we are pure love.’
Pure love, he tells me, solves everything – though not, clearly, his romance with Emma, for he has renounced the pleasure of the flesh.
Not that this means his libido has left his earthly form – as he will shortly confirm to me.
Dapper in a stylish cashmere jacket, matching navy slacks and polished black shoes, that immovable sweep of pepper-grey hair as bouffant as ever, Bill is the picture of early-morning sartorial elegance. And he looks younger than on screen.
‘I certainly don’t feel 80. More like 28, actually,’ he says brightly. ‘And I certainly haven’t had anything done. No Botox or anything,’ he says with a slightly self-satisfied smile.
Disarmingly frank about his legendary libido, he confirms: ‘Oh yes, it’s all in working order.’
Though Bill’s new, pure persona may now exist on a loftier plane, it hasn’t always been so.
‘I smoked and drank for England in the Sixties,’ he confesses. ‘But not now.’ As for the 1,000 lovers .
. . Er, yes, he is a bit embarrassed about the Soap Stud and Casanova Ken headlines over the years. ‘It was Piers Morgan who put the figure at 1,000 but I don’t actually know how many women I’ve had sex with,’ he says, rather ungallantly.
Former love: Bill has split from TV weather girl Emma Jesson
‘Looking back, I mistook sex for love. I genuinely wanted to love every woman I was with at any time. I’ve always wanted to love and to be loved. Sex just became the way. A beautiful woman is the most beautiful thing in the world. I just wanted to be part of that and the closest you can get is sex.
‘It took me a long time to realise that through sex I was expressing love, but it wasn’t the way to do it. I don’t boast about it and I’m not proud,’ he says, shifting uncomfortably.
‘I was just seeking love. Men still come up to me and say, “Whay hey, 1,000 women Ken. Nudge nudge.” But that was in the Sixties. It was a different life and even then, to me, I was trying to express love. I just didn’t realise it at the time.’
To you or me it might appear suspiciously close to a clever excuse for having bedded scores of nubile young actresses. To Bill, however, it was ‘pure love’. Ken Barlow is just the same, he protests.
‘He wasn’t able to hang on to his women. Deirdre and he are soul mates. Whatever they did, they came back to each other.’
In real life Bill’s soul mate and the unquestioned love of his life was Sara, who died three years ago at 58. He still feels his wife’s loss keenly. ‘When you find someone you truly love like I did with her, oh boy. It’s the one woman without question. Sara was extraordinary.
'She ran the family, bought my clothes, did all the finances, everything. All I had to think about was writing my books and doing my meditating and acting. We were married for 35 years and there was total trust between us.’
Coming to terms with life without Sara, a heightened awareness of his own mortality or, God forbid, the prospect of acting his own Vera Duckworth-style death scene in Corrie, could, perhaps, provide the clue to why Bill has entered this ethereal world. He was, he admits, badly shaken by Sara’s death.
‘She died literally mid-conversation,’ he recalls. ‘It was a shock for me but it was actually a beautiful death. There was no pain, nothing. She was just talking and then went, “Oh,” and was gone.
‘It took nine months to find the cause of death. There was no stroke, no heart attack, no disease.
Actor: Bill, aka Ken Barlow, is pictured during a scene in Coronation Street with his great former on-screen rival Mike Baldwin
The electrical impulse to the heart just stopped. She hadn’t complained of feeling off-colour in the weeks before she died, she was in perfect health.’
His spiritual beliefs have helped ease the pain. ‘My grief for Sara when she died was about missing her and not having her around. But I’m not grieving for her now. She’s having a wonderful time.
'She’s back home and I’ll be there and she’ll be there. Eventually. The spiritual realms are just as real as here.
‘There are schools, hospitals, you name it, in the spiritual realm. We only come here temporarily to experience emotions and free will.’ His own mortality is not on his mind, he insists. ‘I will welcome death because I will be going home with Sara and it’s a beautiful place. I’ve seen it when I meditate and it’s so peaceful and blissful. You actually go to a level of your worth.
‘If you are a violent and aggressive person, you will be surrounded by other violent and aggressive people. There is no heaven and hell. Most of us will be somewhere in the middle.’
Every other week Bill and 50 or so others meet at a nearby house and discuss how to spread the message of pure love.
And twice a month they meet at the Larkhill Community Centre in the nearby Cheshire village of Timperley for a session with mediums. ‘Anyone who wants to come is welcome,’ he says, adding that the late Bill Tarmey’s brother attends. ‘I don’t care if people turn up just to see Ken Barlow. And yes, they will get tea and biscuits.’
He’s had lots of messages from his late wife and Bill (who, you will be relieved to know, is fine).
‘If a loved one has gone and you send them a thought of love, they receive it. It’s really simple. You get back what you give out to people. If you are lost in grief, the first thing you have to do is realise your loved one is in a very beautiful place. They know that you are grieving and that is not pleasant for them. So you just send love and say, “It’s been lovely being together, I really loved you and you know that I still do and I know that all is fine with you.” ’
Bill’s elder son, actor Linus, 48, doesn’t belong to his father’s group, but he does work for the spiritual network Enlighten Next in America, where he lives with his wife Rosalind.
‘Linus has always been interested in the spiritual side of life and we enjoy meditating together. He and Rosalind are coming to stay next week and I’m looking forward to seeing his new drama, Making Of A Lady, in which he stars with Joanna Lumley,’ Bill says, unable to resist adding an aside.
‘She’s another of my old girlfriends. Beautiful,’ he whispers.
Talking about his predictions, the future of mankind and global harmony is, clearly, Bill’s deepest passion. And since his thoughts on spiritual matters appeared in print, his phone has been ringing off the hook. ‘I don’t court the media,’ he professes.
‘People approach me and I’m usually happy to talk. I would never do I’m A Celebrity or Strictly Come Dancing, even though I enjoy watching them on the telly.’
With a beaming smile Bill is off to the cobbled streets of Coronation Street to film those all-important scenes. When I telephone him later in the day to see if there have been any more seismic moments in his day, he is in jaunty mode.
‘I’ve felt energised all day,’ he says. ‘I haven’t wanted to stop talking about spreading the message of pure love and have actually had really interesting chats about it with my Coronation Street colleagues.
‘They often comment on how calm and peaceful I am. But today’s been different. I can feel the energy which is, of course, pure love.’
And no, he assures me, the world is not going to end. ‘In fact, it’s going to be a better and happier place to live.’ According to Cosmic Ken.