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Ricky Tomlinson facts for kids

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Ricky Tomlinson
Ricky Tomlinson 2011.jpg
Tomlinson in 2011
Eric Tomlinson

(1939-09-26) 26 September 1939 (age 84)
Occupation Actor
Years active 1981–Present
Marlene Clifton
(m. 1962; div. 1986)
Rita Cumiskey
(m. 2003)
Children 3

Eric "Ricky" Tomlinson (born 26 September 1939) is an English actor. He is best known for his television roles as Bobby Grant in Brookside (1982–1988), DCI Charlie Wise in Cracker (1993–2006) and Jim Royle in The Royle Family (1998–2012). He also played the titular character in the 2001 football mockumentary Mike Bassett: England Manager.

Early life

Eric Tomlinson was born on 26 September 1939 at Burleigh House in Bispham, Blackpool, Lancashire, and has lived in Liverpool nearly all his life. His father was a baker and he was born in Bispham, near Blackpool, because, just after the outbreak of World War II, his mother Peggy was evacuated there over concerns that Liverpool would be bombed. He attended Walton Technical College in Walton, after passing an exam when he was 13. His favourite subject was English.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Tomlinson played banjo in bands known as the Guitanjos, Hobo Rick & The City Slickers, and Hobo Rick and the Hi-Free Three. For a time, the band's pianist was John "Duff" Lowe, a former member of Beatles forerunner the Quarrymen.



A plasterer by trade, he worked on various building sites for many years.


As an actor he appeared as Bobby Grant in the soap opera Brookside from the 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 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 2017, he provided a voiceover for an advert for McCain Foods.

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 December 2006, he presented a programme in Channel Five's Disappearing Britain series entitled "When Coal Was King".

In March 2007, Tomlinson presented BBC's One Life: Guilty My ..., 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.

The BBC broadcast a programme in its Who Do You Think You Are? series 13 on Tomlinson's ancestors, which traced his family back through a number of carters working around Liverpool at a time when the city was a bustling port.

In 2020, Tomlinson, alongside his Royle Family co-star Ralf Little, presented a travel series called Ricky & Ralf's Very Northern Road Trip for Gold.

In 2023, Tomlinson appeared at Eurovision 2023 reciting a poem dedicated to the Beatles. He also repirsed his role as the character Bobby Grant, and was seen putting up Ukrainian-themed bunting outside the Grant home on Brookside Close.


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 disaster, in which he portrayed John Glover – the father of victim Ian Glover.

In 2017, Tomlinson starred in the LGBT short film Tellin' Dad (2017) (co-starring actor Carl Loughlin as his son) which was the first LGBT project he has been involved in and followed the journey of his son building up courage to come out to him. The film was released on DVD, Amazonplay and distributed by Peccadillo Pictures worldwide on several platforms and on their Boys on Film DVD collection.


Tomlinson is also a keen banjo and harmonica 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 Shane MacGowan and The Popes' "Are You Lookin' at Me?" that reached No. 28 in the UK Singles Chart in 2001. A CD album entitled Music My ... was released the same year, peaking at No. 127 in the UK Albums Chart. He released a single at Christmas 2006 entitled "Christmas My ..." which reached No. 25.


In 2006, Tomlinson toured to theatres across the UK with his show An Evening with Ricky Tomlinson where he was interviewed about his life by Elton Welsby.

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 appeared in an advertising campaign for UK retail chain The Range.

Personal life

He had three children with his first wife.

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 described in detail his time in prison.

On 19 October 2007, Tomlinson had quadruple heart bypass surgery 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."

Tomlinson suffers from nodular prurigo, which was the subject of an interview in the Daily Mirror in October 2013.

Tomlinson still resides in Liverpool, stating "I will never, ever move away from Liverpool, I love it here."


In his late 20s, Tomlinson was attracted to right-wing politics and, by his own account, was a member of the National Front for a period after Enoch Powell's April 1968 "Rivers of Blood" speech. In the early 1970s, Tomlinson's political views shifted to the left. He was affected by the book The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, which was given to him by the governor of the prison in which he was being held.

In 1972, he joined the flying pickets in a building workers' dispute in Shrewsbury. Following allegations of violence during this protest, in 1973 Tomlinson was charged with "conspiracy to intimidate" as one of the Shrewsbury Two. Despite pleading his innocence at Shrewsbury Crown Court, he was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison, alongside fellow picket Des Warren. After his release in 1975, he disrupted the TUC conference by shouting from the wings after he had been prevented from speaking on the stage. In 2012, Tomlinson and others sought to have the convictions overturned by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC). In 2013 a paper petition was launched, alongside the existing e-petition, for an Early Day Motion by MP John McDonnell to be brought. In July 2013, at the Durham Miners' Gala, he again campaigned against the convictions. In May 2020 it was announced that the CCRC had referred a number of convictions relating to the Shrewsbury dispute, including Tomlinson's, to the Court of Appeal which subsequently overturned the convictions in March 2021.

Tomlinson is a close friend of Arthur Scargill and often appears on party political 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 the party's most prominent celebrity supporter since its formation in 1996.

He has also expressed 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 Tomlinson addressed alongside Tommy Sheridan and Tony Mulhearn in which he used the slogan: "New Labour My ...".

On 5 February 2010, Tomlinson revealed his plan to stand as the Socialist Labour Party 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". Tomlinson added: "I am disappointed not to be able to stand. But I am pleased to give the chosen candidate my wholehearted support." He also commented, "People say you could be letting the Tories in. But there is no difference between the Conservatives and New Labour". Singleton ultimately finished sixth out of seven candidates, with Berger winning the seat.

In a guest appearance on an episode of the ITV lunchtime chat show, Loose Women, broadcast on 17 August 2015, while discussing the forthcoming Labour Party leadership election, Tomlinson said:

I know both of them and I know Andy quite well, and he was my choice right up until I went to listen to Jeremy Corbyn and I went to the Adelphi Hotel where there was 3,000 people there, the room holds 800 and were out into the streets, they couldn't get in. And everything he said with I agreed with you know, leave the National Health Service alone, get rid of Trident, stuff like that, so it doesn't matter to me who gets the Labour leadership, it really doesn't matter. But whatever happens both of them will be in the Shadow Cabinet.

Richard Whiteley claims

In March 2017, Tomlinson claimed during an interview that the late journalist, broadcaster and game show host Richard Whiteley had been an undercover agent for the British security services and had assisted them in securing his 1973 imprisonment by co-presenting a television documentary called Red Under the Bed, which was critical of his political and trade union activities and had swayed the jury. The CCRC cited the documentary and its possible influence on the jury when announcing its decision to refer the cases of Tomlinson and others to the Court of Appeal.

Charity work

In 2008, Tomlinson donated £200,000 as patron of the Human Milk Bank of Cheshire and North Wales. 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.


In October 2014, Tomlinson was awarded the Freedom of Liverpool.



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Play for Today Dennis Episode: "United Kingdom"
1982 Crown Court Clerk of Court 3 episodes
1982 Boys from the Blackstuff Hospital Doctor Episode: "George's Last Ride"
1982–1988 Brookside Bobby Grant 191 episodes
1989 Dear Sarah Warder #1 Television film
1993 The Bill Ray Hickey Episode: "Home to Roost"
1994 Where the Buffalo Roam Glyn Hunter Television film
1995 The All New Alexei Sayle Show Man Selling Chicken in Pub Episode: #2.2
1994–1995 Roughnecks Cinders 13 episodes
1994–1996 Cracker Wise 15 episodes
1996 Hillsborough John Glover Television film
1997 The Fix Gordon Television film
1997 10x10 Episode: "Johnny Watkins Walks on Water"
1999 Dockers Macca Macaulay Television film
1999 Cold Feet Cabbie Episode: #2.5
1999 The Greatest Store in the World Santa Television film
1999 Hooves of Fire Santa Claus Television film
2000 Safe as Houses Lawrence Davidson Television film
2001 Clocking Off Ronnie Anderson 4 episodes
2001 Nice Guy Eddie Eddie McMullen Television film
2001 My Beautiful Son Uncle Alfred Television film
1998–2002 Playing the Field Jim Pratt 29 episodes
2002 Nice Guy Eddie Eddie McMullen 6 episodes
2004 Dalziel and Pascoe Rowan Priestley Episode: "The Price of Fame"
2004 Monkey Trousers Various roles Television film
2004–2005 Down to Earth Tony Murphy 18 episodes
2005 Mike Bassett: Manager Mike Bassett 6 episodes
2006 Animal Spies Ted Television series
2008 Stepdad Grandad Television film
1998–2012 The Royle Family Jim Royle 25 episodes
2013 Great Night Out Warren 6 episodes
2013 Comic Relief: Red Nose Day 2013 Jim Royle Television film
2013–2014 In the Flesh Ken Burton 4 episodes
2016 The Last Dragonslayer Moobin Television film
2019 Matopulas Terry McGlocklin Television film
2022 The Witchfinder Crockett Episode: #1.5
TBA Ricky, Sue & a Trip or Two Himself Upcoming three-part travelogue series


Year Title Role Notes
1987 Out of Order Decorator
1991 Riff-Raff Larry
1993 Raining Stones Tommy
1995 Butterfly Kiss Robert
1996 Bob's Weekend Jack
1997 Life is All You Get Buddy
1997 Preaching to the Perverted Fibbin' Gibbins
1997 Mojo Ezra
1999 Nasty Neighbours Harold Peach
1999 The Greatest Store in the World Santa
2000 Lounge Act Short film
2001 Mike Bassett: England Manager Mike Bassett
2001 The 51st State Leopold Durant
2002 Once Upon a Time in the Midlands Charlie
2002 Al's Lads Billy
2002 Five Ways John Wayne Didn't Die Dead Man
2003 The Virgin of Liverpool Frank Conlon
2007 Learning to Walk Granddad Short film
2007 Plenty More Fish Compere Short film
2009 Nativity! Lord Mayor
2011 Flutter Freddie
2014 Psyched Brian the Ghost Union President Short film
2014 Northern Soul John's Grandad
2015 The Hound & Rabbit William Short film
2015 Him Upstairs Frank Conroy Short film
2016 Grimsby Paedo Pete
2016 Mike Bassett: Interim Manager Mike Bassett
2017 Tellin' Dad Dad Short film
2017 Gloves Off Mick
2018 Fighter from the Docks Grandad
2018 The More You Ignore Me Bert Wildgoose
2022 Tales of the Creeping Death Dad
2023 Our Kid Phil Reilly

See also

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