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Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson
Tomlinson in 2011
Born Eric Tomlinson
(1939-09-26) 26 September 1939
Bispham, Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Occupation Actor, Comedian, Author, Political activist
Years active 1981–present
Spouse(s) Marlene Tomlinson (1962–86; divorced)
Rita Cumiskey (m. 2003)

Eric Tomlinson (born 26 September 1939), known by his stage name Ricky Tomlinson, is an English actor, comedian, author and activist best known for his roles as Bobby Grant in Brookside, DCI Charlie Wise in Cracker and Jim Royle in The Royle Family.


  • Early life 1
  • Personal life and career 2
  • Politics 3
  • Charity work 4
  • Honours 5
  • Filmography 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Tomlinson was born Eric Tomlinson in Bispham, Blackpool, Lancashire, and has lived in Liverpool nearly all his life. Tomlinson was born in Bispham because his mother, Peggy, was evacuated there due to the Liverpool Blitz in World War II. He had three children with his first wife.[1]

A qualified plasterer by trade, he worked on various building sites for many years becoming actively involved in politics (firstly with the far-right, then more predominantly with the far-left). In 1968, he joined the far-right National Front in support of less immigration after Enoch Powell's Rivers of Blood speech.[2][3] His political views shifted strongly to the Left-wing politics in the early 1970s, and in 1972 he joined the flying pickets in a building workers' dispute in Shrewsbury. In 1973, Tomlinson was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of "conspiracy to intimidate" as one of the so-called Shrewsbury Two.[4] After his release in 1975, he disrupted the TUC conference by shouting from the wings after he had been prevented from speaking from the stage. In 2012 Tomlinson and others sought to have the convictions overturned by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.[5] In 2013 a paper petition was launched, alongside the existing e-petiton, for an Early Day Motion by MP John McDonnell to be brought.[6] In July 2013, at the Durham Miners' Gala, he again campaigned against the convictions.[7]

Personal life and career

As an actor he has appeared as Bobby Grant in the soap opera Brookside from show's inception in 1982 until being written out in 1988, followed by DCI Charlie Wise in Cracker and as Jim Royle in the sitcom The Royle Family.

In 2002, Tomlinson starred in the BBC Series Nice Guy Eddie playing a Liverpool private investigator. Using down-to-earth cases - actually based upon real-life ones from Liverpool private investigator Tony Smith - the show also starred Tom Ellis and John Henshaw.

Tomlinson featured heavily in series two of Paul Abbott's series Clocking Off, in a BAFTA-nominated episode written by Danny Brocklehurst.

Tomlinson has also starred in several films, notably Mike Bassett: England Manager, Raining Stones and Hillsborough, a made-for-TV film about the families of the victims of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster, in which he portrayed John Glover - the father of victim Ian. Tomlinson is a lifelong fan of Liverpool Football Club.[8]

Tomlinson has fronted a series of television adverts for the utility company British Gas. In January 2010 he began to appear in a series of advertisements for the frozen food chain Farmfoods.

In 2003, he published an autobiography, entitled Ricky, which spent five weeks at the top of the UK best-selling new books chart. In the book, Tomlinson admitted to having affairs as well as describing in detail his time in prison.

Tomlinson is also a keen banjo and harpsichord player, and has played the instruments in many episodes of The Royle Family. In 2001 he teamed up with fellow Brookside actor Michael Starke and other friends for his own rendition of well-known folk songs including "It's a Long Way To Tipperary" and a cover of the Pogues' "Are You Lookin' at Me?" that reached No. 28 in the UK Singles Chart in 2001. A CD album entitled Music My Arse was released the same year, peaking at No. 127 in the UK Albums Chart. He released a single at Christmas 2006 entitled "Christmas My Arse" which reached No. 25.

On 19 June 2006 Tomlinson made his début as the guest celebrity in Dictionary Corner on the long-running UK Channel 4 game show Countdown. In 2006, Tomlinson toured at theatres across the UK with his show An Evening with Ricky Tomlinson where he was interviewed about his life by Elton Welsby. In December 2006 he presented a programme in Five's Disappearing Britain series entitled When Coal was King.

In March 2007, Tomlinson presented BBC's One Life: Guilty My Arse,[9] detailing his version of the Shrewsbury Two case, in which he compared his political activism as a trade unionist to the work of the suffragettes. On 19 October 2007 Tomlinson had a major heart operation and underwent a quadruple heart bypass at Liverpool's Cardiothoracic Centre. Consultant cardiac surgeon Aung Oo said: "The operation went according to plan and he is now recovering within the hospital's critical care unit."[10]

During 2008 and 2009 Tomlinson took his Laughter Show theatrical revue on a UK tour with fellow comedians Tony Barton, Duncan Norvelle and Pauline Daniels.

In 2009 he took a lead role as the Head Judge in the "VMH Club Star Talent Trail", a local talent-based competition held at the VMH Club in Garston. A large number of North West-based performers entered the competition, which was ultimately won by 14-year-old Shaun Walsh from Liverpool.

In May 2010 Tomlinson opened his own cabaret club the Green Room, in Liverpool, teaming up with brothers Richard and Simon Wallace, from Liverpool production company Red Hot Media, to open the 250-seater cabaret lounge on Duke Street. In March 2011 Tomlinson acted in an advertising campaign for UK retail chain the Range.


Tomlinson is a good friend of Arthur Scargill and often appears on party election broadcasts for Scargill's Socialist Labour Party, most recently for the 2009 European Parliament elections. He is a long-time member of the Socialist Labour Party, and is one of its most prominent celebrity supporters since its formation in 1996.[11]

He has also shown his support for the Campaign for a New Workers' Party. A public meeting was hosted by the CNWP in Liverpool on Monday 12 February 2007 which was addressed by Ricky Tomlinson alongside Tommy Sheridan and Tony Mulhearn in which he used the slogan "New Labour My Arse".

On 5 February 2010, Tomlinson revealed his plan to stand as the Socialist Labour Party's candidate for the Liverpool Wavertree constituency at the 2010 General Election in protest at the selection of Luciana Berger, a 28-year-old Londoner as the Labour Party candidate. Kim Singleton was ultimately selected for the seat; in a statement, the SLP said that he could not contest the election due to "personal and contractual commitments".[12] Tomlinson added: "I am disappointed not to be able to stand. But I am pleased to give the chosen candidate my wholehearted support."[13] He also commented, "People say you could be letting the Tories in. But there is no difference between the Conservatives and New Labour".[14]

Charity work

In 2008 Tomlinson donated £200,000 as patron of the Human Milk Bank of Cheshire and North Wales.[15] The charity provides babies on Special Care Baby Units with milk from donor mothers, significantly improving their chances of survival and long-term development. He said: "Due to my own recent experiences with my health, I know how much hospitals and appeals appreciate help and assistance. This is such an important service which can help so many families and I'm very honoured to be the patron."

In November 2010 it was reported that Tomlinson had donated £1 million to the Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool two years previously.[16]


In October 2014 Tomlinson was awarded the Freedom of Liverpool.[17]



  1. ^ "'"Married Ricky 'on top of the world.  
  2. ^ "'"Interview: Ricky Tomlinson - 'Give Thatcher a state funeral – tomorrow. The Scotsman. 26 May 2009. 
  3. ^ Raphael, Amy (5 October 2003). "His Royle shyness". The Guardian (London). 
  4. ^ Ricky Tomlinson battles to overturn 1970s prison term - BBC News
  5. ^ Campbell, Duncan (3 April 2012). "Union pickets seek to quash 40-year-old convictions". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Official Shrewsbury 24 Campaign". Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  7. ^ Stephenson, John-Paul (14 July 2013). "National security, my arse!". Giggle Beats. 
  8. ^ Chris Smith and Paul Rogers (25 December 2003). Miss World and "105 other celebrity LFC fans" . Liverpool FC. 
  9. ^ "The Life of Wylie » Blog Archive » Ricky Tomlinson: Guilty My ****". 12 March 2007. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  10. ^ "Actor Tomlinson has heart surgery", BBC News, 19 October 2007
  11. ^ "'"Ricky Tomlinson 'to stand for parliament against Labour candidate. The Daily Telegraph. 25 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Ricky Tomlinson will not stand for SLP in Liverpool". BBC News. 13 April 2010. 
  13. ^ "Ricky Tomlinson halts bid to be next Liverpool Wavertree MP". Click Liverpool. 13 April 2010. 
  14. ^ Moore, Matthew (5 February 2010). "'"Ricky Tomlinson 'to stand for parliament against Labour candidate. The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  15. ^ "Ricky Tomlinson donates £200,000 as Patron for 2008" Cheshire And North Wales Human Milk Bank, 18 March 2010
  16. ^ "Tomlinson donates £1m to Liverpool children's charity". BBC News. 3 November 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  17. ^ Ricky Tomlinson granted Freedom of Liverpool - BBC News
  18. ^

External links

  • BBC profile, retrieved 14 December 2007
  • "Ricky Tomlinson: Royle Rebel", BBC, 28 September 2001
  • Ricky Tomlinson at the Internet Movie Database
  • Detailed account of Ricky Tomlins
  • Ricky Tomlinson's speech from the dock after being convicted for his part in the 1972 Builder's Strike.
  • [2] The Green Room caberet club in Liverpool
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