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, this morning.
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.
An ITV spokeswoman had said earlier the broadcaster was not in a position to comment, but it is understood Roache will not appear in the long-running soap while investigations continue.