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The Royle Family - Series 1, Episode 1
Brookside - The First Ever Episode
I met Ricky Tomlinson when he came to Nottingham in December 2010 for Ricky Tomlinson Live at The Approach, one of the city's newer entertainment venues.
He signed my copy of his fantastic autobiography, and a photograph of him as Jim Royle. A lovely, friendly man to meet, and one of life's really genuine human beings!
Sharing the stage with Liverpudlian comedian Gary Skyner, Ricky did some stand-up comedy and then entertained us with stories about celebrities that he had worked with. He talked about many things including his hard upbringing in Liverpool; his experiences in prison; how he got into acting; why he thumped Bernard Hill and his forthright opinions about fellow scouser Cilla Black!
Ricky signing my copy of his book
Ricky Tomlinson was born as Eric Tomlinson at Bispham, near Blackpool, in 1939. His mother had been evacuated there during the Liverpool Blitz in WWII, but she moved back to Liverpool three days after Ricky's birth. The son of a baker, Tomlinson and his three brothers (D
(David, Albert and Ronny) were brought up in a two-bedromed house in the Everton district of the city, and all went to Heyworth Street Primary school. Tomlinson later thought about becoming a wr
Ricky aged seventeen
writer and his footballing skills led to him being offered a trial with Scunthorpe United. He eventually trained and became a qualified plasterer, working on various building sites for many years. He also played his banjo, and did stand-up comedy around
around Liverpool's clubs and pubs.
Ricky marries Marlene in 1962
On a day out at Wrexham in 1961, Tomlinson met Marlene Clifton, and they were married the following year. They went on to have three children (Clifton b.1970, Gary b.1972 & Kate b.1977) before their divorce in 1986.
In 1968, Tomlinson had joined the National
National Front because of his concerns about immigration, but this
this was short lived and he soon became an active trade unionist.
'The Shrewsbury Two'
Des Warren & Ricky Tomlinson
With sons Gary & Clifton
During the 1972 builders' strike, he organised flying pickets and later refused to testify in court against his fellow strikers. For his involvement, he was sentenced to six years in gaol (reduced to two years on appeal) for conspiracy - a charge he has always denied. He becam
Tomlinson as trade unionist
Bobby Grant in Brookside
became known as one of the 'Shrewsbury Two' and was regarded by many as a political prisoner. MI 5 kept a file on him, in which he was labelled a 'political thug'. Tomlinson served his time in 14 differentprison
Tomlinson as Bobby Grant in Brookside
After he was released from prison in 1975, Tomlinson found himself blacklisted by the building industry. Unable to get any building work, he became a stand-up comic in pubs and clubs, often playing his banjo and singing. He didn't start acting until 1979 when, at the age of 40, and with no experience, director Roland Joffe cast him in a leading role of the United Kingdom in the BBC's Play for Today series.
The following year, the director Alan Bleasdale, who
Tomlinson's first acting role as
Dennis in United Kingdom
As John Glover in Hillsborough
As Cinders in Roughnecks
who had seen one of Tomlinson's stage routines the previous year, gave him in a minor role in the acclaimed TV series Boys From The Blackstuff (1982). This led to his big break when he was cast as Bobby Grant, a domineering trade unionist, in the Liverpool 'soap' Brookside. He appeared in 74 episodes between 1982 and 1988.ook
Ricky Tomlinson & Geraldine McEwan
Ricky Tomlinson as DCI Charlie Wise
After 13 episodes as Cinders in the TV drama Roughnecks (1994-95), about life on an oilrig, Tomlinson took on the role of DCI Charlie Wise in 15 episodes of Jimmy McGovern
Tomlinson's next TV role was as John Glover in another Jimmy McGovern drama, the award-winning Hillsborough (1996) about the real-life events that led to the deaths of ninety six Liverpool football supporters in Sheffield.
Ricky Tomlinson has signed this photo to me. It shows him
as Jim Royle from The Royle Family
1998 saw the start of a comedy series which was to provide Ricky Tomlinson with his most famous role - that of Jim Royle in Th
Geoffrey Hughes & Ricky Tomlinson in The Royle Family
show swept the boards at the British Comedy Awards winning four categories including Best Comedy Actor for
The Royle Family. Twenty-four episodes were produced between 1998 and 2010. In 1999, the sho
for Tomlinson. The following year the show picked up two BAFTAs. In the series, Tomlinson's screen wife 'Barb' was played by Sue Johnston who was also his screen-wife Sheila in Brookside.
Ricky plays his banjo in The Royle Family
Ricky Tomlinson & Sue Johnston
with The Royle Family BAFTA
As Tony Murphy in Down to Earth
The BBC TV Series Nice Guy Eddie (2002) gave Ricky Tomlinson
Tomlinson another starring role, this time playing a Liverpool private investigator Eddie McMullen. Using real life cases, the seven episode series followed on from the Nice Guy Eddie TV movie made in 2001.
With Dimitri Kissoff in Nice Guy Eddie
In Mike Bassett England Manager
After guest appearances in the series Dalziel and Pascoe and Down to Earth in 20
2004, Tomlinson's next series was the six-episode Mike Bassett: Manager (2005). He had already starred as the scruffy, loud-mouthed football manager in the comedy film Mike Bassett: England Manager (2001). As he was already committed to this part, he had to turn down a role alongside Tom Cruise in Steven Spielberg's Minority Report (2002).
With James Nesbitt in Playing the Field
Ricky Tomlinson has had a number of small roles on the Big Screen including two
two directed by his friend Ken Loach - Larry in Riff-Raff (1991) and Tommy in Raining Stones (1993). However, the one he says gave him the most satisfaction was in the black comedy Nasty Neighbours (2000). He says that he thinks it is the closest he has come to 'real acting', and it won him the 'Best Actor' Award at the Stockholm Film Festival.
As Larry in Riff-Raff
Tomlinson & Marion Bailey as The Peaches
in Nasty Neighbours
Ricky Tomlinson's first big American film was a crime comedy The 51st State (2001) which saw him appearing alongside Samuel L Jackson and Robert Car
Carlyle. Tomlinson and Carlyle appeared together again the following year, in the comedy drama Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002), filmed close to where I live in Nottingham.
Ricky Tomlinson as Leopold Durant in The 51st State
In March 2007, Tomlinson presented a documentary for the BBC, Guilty My Arse, giving his version of the Shrewsbury Two case, comparing his political activism as a trade unionist to the work of the suffragettes.
Ricky Tomlinson as Charlie in
Once Upon a Time in the Midlands
Ricky Tomlinson has appeared in a number of humorous commercials including Mr Kipling's Cakes; British Gas; Going Places Holidays; The Range and Farmfoods.
Once Upon a Time in the Midlands
Ricky Tomlinson as the mayor in Nativity
... The Range
... Going Places
... Going Places
... Mr Kipling's Cakes
Away from TV work, Tomlinson toured with his Laughter Show in 2008 and 2009, whilst in 2010, he teamed up with Liverpool comedian Gary Skyner for the comedy and chat evenings '2 Stools, 2 Scousers'. Skyner is one of the 466 thalidomide survivors, and it was revealed that Ricky Tomlinson has recently been instrumental in successfully campaigning to win more compensation for them. His genero
Gary Skyner & Ricky Tomlinson at The Approach in Nottingham, December 2010
extreme generosity has made possible a £200,000 donation as Patron of the Human Milk Bank of Cheshire and North Wales, a charity that provides babies on Special Care Baby Units with milk from donor mothers, significantly improving their chances of survival and development. Tomlinson said, "This is such an important service which can help so many families, and I'm very honoured to be their patron."
In 2008, Ricky Tomlinson donated £1million to Liverpool's Alder Hey Children's Hospital so that an extension to their Ronald McDonald House could be built. He originally wanted the donation to remain anonymous, and it was only in 2010 that it was revealed to the general public who the donor really was (click here for the full story).
Ricky Tomlinson at Ronald McDonald House
In May 2010 Tomlinson opened his own cabaret club The
The Green Room in Liverpool's Duke Street, teaming up with a local production company to open the 250-seater venue .
The Green Room in Liverpool
In 2007, Tomlinson underwent a quadruple heart bypass operation at Liverpool's Cardiothoracic Centre. He loves telling everyone that his surgeon was a Burmese man called Dr Who!
Ricky has signed my copy of his autobiography
In 2003, Ricky Tomlinson published his brilliant autobiography Ricky which was an immediate success, and remained at the top of the UK best selling new books chart for more than five weeks.
Tomlinson is a personal friend of Arthur Scargill and a keen supporter of the left-wing Socialist Labour Party. He is often seen at political meemeeti
meetings and rallys, frequently as a guest speaker.
Arthur Scargill & Ricky Tomlinson
Speaking at a Political Rally
Ricky Tomlinson interviewed on Parkinson
In 1992, Tomlinson met Rita
Ricky Tomlinson interviewed on GMTV
Rita Cumiskey, a social worker with two grown up children, and
and separated - eleven years later, in 2003, they married at the Liverpool Marina and Harbourside Club, with photos of their wedding filling the pages and covers of both Hello! and OK! Magazines.
Ricky & Rita
Ricky & grandson Louis
This is the show I went to see
different prisons, mostly in solitary confinement because he refused to wear any clothes!
McGovern's police drama Cracker (1993-96) starring Robbie Coltraine & Geraldine McEwan.
On the cover of Hello! magazine