6 MARCH 2009

Coronation Street favourite Bill Roache is gently easing himself back into work after the sudden loss of his wife Sara last month. This week he shot a touching farewell scene between his character Ken Barlow and an attractive divorcee he's grown close to, played by actress Stephanie Beacham.

The 76-year-old Weatherfield stalwart filmed the episode on a Manchester houseboat with Stephanie, previously known for her role on US TV series The Colbys.

His bereavement is among several devastating losses to hit the cast recently. Earlier this week Kym Marsh returned to work following the death of her prematurely born baby son Archie Jay.

Their colleague Antony Cotton – the series' Sean Tully – said: "We are all being as strong as we can and doing our very best to look after each other".

Photo: Rex
In the storyline his character has grown close to the attractive canal boat owner, even though he's still married to Deirdre
Photo: Rex
The cast, many of whom attended the funeral for Bill's wife of 35 years, have given the actor their utmost support. This week he put on a brave face to film a goodbye scene with actress Stephanie Beacham