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 has 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, on Wednesday 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."
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."
Roache's arrest comes little over a month after he appeared to suggest that sex abuse victims were being punished for sins in a past life. He was interviewed for a New Zealand news programme and said the public should not be judgmental but be "totally forgiving" of people who had committed child sex crimes.
He told the programme: "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."
Asked to clarify whether that meant victims brought the abuse on themselves, he said: "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."
He also called for anonymity for those accused of child sex offences because of the stigma they faced even if innocent. Roache later issued a statement saying he was "sorry for any offence that has been caused as a result of my comments".
It is understood that Roache - the world's longest-serving soap actor - will not appear in the show while investigations continue. He will appear at Preston Magistrates' Court on May 14.