Veteran British actor Bill Roache has furiously denied allegations he raped a teenage girl, insisting he is "astounded" by the claims.

The screen star, 81, who has played Ken Barlow in hit U.K. soap opera Coronation Street since 1960, was charged with two counts of rape this week (ends03May13) amid accusations he attacked a 15 year old in 1967.

Roache was arrested on Wednesday (01May13) and is due to face the charges in court on 14 May (13), but he issued a statement on Thursday (02May13) protesting his innocence.

It reads, "I am astounded and deeply horrified by the extraordinary events of the last 24 hours. I strenuously deny the allegations and will now focus my full attention on fighting to preserve my innocence in the challenging times ahead. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all those people who have offered me their support and good wishes at this difficult time."