LONDON -- Actor Michael Le Vell, one of the most familiar faces on British TV after spending more than 30 years on screen in ITV's iconic soap opera Coronation Street, has been charged with child sex offenses.
Le Vell plays the boss of a car shop in the soap opera that has long been the commercial broadcaster's flagship early evening soap opera here.
The 48-year-old actor, whose real name is Michael Turner, is accused of 19 sex offenses including raping a child, indecently assaulting a child and sexual activity with a child.
The news of the charges hit the headlines across the British media Friday morning.
Greater Manchester police said the actor will appear in court on Feb. 27 to face the charges.
A police statement read: "A man has been charged with 19 child sex offenses.
"Michael Turner, of Byrom Street, Hale, has been charged with 19 offenses including raping a child, indecently assaulting a child and sexual activity with a child.
"The charges, which were authorized by the CPS following a review of evidence, relate to offenses against a child between 2001 and 2010."
The story of the arrest and charges conjured headlines in The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail and bulletins across the BBC's radio and television services.
It comes at a time when the media is on red alert after the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal that engulfed the BBC and has led to a slew of high profile celebrity arrests.
Le Vell has been arrested before, in September 2011, but the investigation was dropped three months later in late December, when authorities said there would be no further action taken against him as there was not enough evidence to charge him.
At the time the actor said he was delighted to have been "completely exonerated," thanked police for their thorough investigation and Coronation Street staff and the public for their support.