Coronation Street actor Bill Roache is to be charged with two counts of rape of a 15-year-old girl in 1967, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
The 81-year-old, who has played Ken Barlow in the ITV soap since its launch, was arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire.
Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West, said: "We have carefully considered all the evidence gathered by Lancashire Police in relation to William Roache following allegations of rape.
"We have been reviewing evidence and providing early investigative advice to Lancashire Police since 1 March 2013.
"Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr Roache to be charged with two offences of rape relating to a girl, aged 15, in 1967."
Roache will appear at Preston Magistrates' Court on May 14.
It is understood that Roache - the world's longest-serving soap actor - will not appear in the show while investigations continue.
He collected an award from Guinness World Records in 2010 for his lengthy service in Coronation Street, having joined in 1960 and appearing regularly ever since.
Mr Afzal said: "This decision was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and our guidance for prosecutors on sexual offences.
"Mr Roache has a right to a fair trial and it is therefore very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice that trial. For these reasons, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further."