The Kiwi TV reporter who spoke to Coronation Street star Bill Roache about victims of sexual offences and “pure love” tells Channel 4 News the star was “very keen” to share his spiritual beliefs.
The man better known as Ken Barlow in ITV’s Coronation Street sparked the row in an interview with reporter Garth Bray for New Zealand’s One News.
It all began rather gently, with Roache’s character dubbed “the most English man in England” by the reporter.
But conversation with the 80-year-old took an unexpected twist when the questioning turned to Coronation Street co-star Michael Le Vell, who has been charged with child sex offences, including rape, which he denies.
Mr Roache said the public should not be judgmental but be “totally forgiving” of people who have committed child sex crimes. He then added: “If you accept that you are pure love, and if you know that you are pure love and therefore live that pure love, these things won’t happen to you.”
Everything that happens to us has been a result of what we have been in previous lives or whatever. Bill Roache
Mr Bray responded: “To some people that sounds perhaps like you’re saying victims bring things on themselves – is that what you’re saying?”
Roache replied: “No, not quite, but and yet I am, because everything that happens to us has been a result of what we have been in previous lives or whatever.”
Speaking to Channel 4 News, Mr Bray said: “William Roache seemed very sincere in what he said to me so I wasn’t surprised when he stuck by it.
“I see now he says he apologises if he was misunderstood. He was pretty clear to me and we didn’t quote him out of context or misquote him with tricky editing.
“He and I were speaking for about an hour and for about 10 minutes of that regarding Le Vell… and how his personal philosophy informs that kind of situation.”
Mr Roache released a statement on Tuesday, saying: “I would like to say that I am very sorry for any offence that has been caused as a result of my comments.
“I would never say that victims of sexual offences are in any way responsible for the abuse they have suffered and I offer my deepest apologies if anything I have said has been misunderstood in this way.
“I had no intention of causing any kind of distress as a result of my interview and I offer my utmost sympathies to anyone affected by sexual offences and paedophilia.”
Bill Roache’s “pure love” comment is a reference to a religious group called the Pure Love Movement.
Roache, who has played Ken Barlow in Coronation Street for 53 years, is known to be a member of the mysterious organisation which promotes an ideology based on “purity”.
The group’s website states: “We don’t seek fame and fortune, we seek true love, purity and passion.”
“Right now we are in a place where everyone wants fame and everyone wants to be known, darkness is creeping in and this culture is rising to be such a selfish generation when God has called us to be selfless.”
We talked quite a bit about a thing called the Circle of Light, bi-monthly meetings in a hall in Cheshire he attends. Garth Bray, TVNZ
It adds: “A movement starts with one person taking action and then inspiring others to do the same.”
Garth Bray told Channel 4 News: “We talked quite a bit about a thing called the Circle of Light, bi-monthly meetings in a hall in Cheshire he [Roache] attends.
“I’d read his biography/new age tract, Soul on the Street, over the weekend before the interview, and given I was going to take an hour of my time, I did want to talk about that if he was keen. He was. Very.
“[His biography] also talked about his views on reincarnation and how it is the only way he can think of explaining why a child in Africa is born into poverty suffering HIV.”
Following Mr Roache’s apology, an ITV spokesman said: “These were personal comments that Bill made for which he has apologised.”
I’m starting to think Bill Roache is just being controversial because he’s worrying he might be typecast.
— Gary Bainbridge (@Gary_Bainbridge) March 19, 2013
What atrocities did Bill Roache commit in a previous life to end up in Coronation Street for 50 joyless years?
— Andrew Weston, Jr (@AndrewWeston_Jr) March 19, 2013
Oh dear William Roache! #BigMouthStrikes
— C O’D (@angelofthenw) March 19, 2013
@talksportdrive Glenn Hoddle and Diego Maradona to manage Blackburn with William Roache as Spiritual Advisor
— Bryan H (@bh_1961) March 19, 2013