Blackpool lad done good

Ricky Tomlinson
Ricky Tomlinson
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Don’t get Ricky Tomlinson started on politics.

Or rather, do get him started on politics, but only if you’ve got time to spare.

The 73-year-old northerner, whose screen alter ego Jim Royle doesn’t need much encouragement to offer his two pennyworth either, is talking about the current Government and to say he’s not a fan is putting it mildly.

“I have nothing in common with this Government,” says the Bispham-born actor. “How can you have a Cabinet where there’s 23 millionaires, and some of them multi-millionaires?

“They’re telling people, ‘We’ll have to cut your benefits’. It’s ludicrous. Let them walk a mile in their shoes and see how they feel.”

Tomlinson – born in Bispham after his mother, Peggy, was evacuated there due to the Liverpool Blitz in the Second World War – is certainly prepared to stand up for what he believes in.

A lifelong Liverpool FC supporter, he’s campaigned for justice for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster while he himself is still looking for an official pardon for his time spent in prison in the Seventies for ‘conspiracy to intimidate’ during trade union activities (he was one half of the Shrewsbury Two).

Tomlinson, who moved from Blackpool to Liverpool as a very young child, nearly ran for Parliament as a Socialist Labour candidate for Liverpool in the 2010 General Election in protest at a 28-year-old being parachuted in from London to represent the Labour party.

But he withdrew before being selected due to personal reasons (“me lad was ill”). He also supports lots of local children’s charities.

When he’s not busy running his two businesses in Liverpool: a dog-grooming parlour called Mucky Pup and cabaret club The Green Room, where he comperes every weekend, his time is taken up with his grandfather duties to seven-year-old Louis (“I idolise him. He comes here after school to have tea”).

He’s certainly nothing like his well-known alter ego, Jim Royle of The Royle Family fame.

“I wonder what Jim did when he did work?” says Tomlinson of his beer-swilling screen counterpart.

The actor’s at the beck and call of Caroline Aherne, and their recent Royle Family special, though not adored by critics, drew in more viewers than Call The Midwife, Doctor Who and Downton Abbey.

“It’s weird because we don’t see each other from one year’s end to another, but when you walk on set it’s as though it was only last week we worked together.

“And it’s funny because if someone’s sitting in Jim’s chair and I walk past, they get up.”

His latest TV project is Great Night Out, a comedy drama about four football-mad mates and the long-suffering women in their lives.

Tomlinson’s character brings them all together: the landlord of their local pub, he acts as a father figure to the lads - even though he’s after their money at the same time.

“I do everything and anything to keep them in there, making sure they keep on drinking.

“He’s just an old-fashioned busybody, an old-fashioned pub landlord. But at the same time he’s got a soft spot for those lads.”

The actor had a soft spot for his co-stars too, describing them as “good kids”. He got on with all the extras too.

“I got talking to them. It was lovely, in my break I would go and sit with them and have a laugh.”

Luckily the work is still coming because Tomlinson likes to keep busy, despite having had a quadruple bypass back in 2007.

“I love work, I’m a workaholic! If I stopped working then I’d be on the Jeremy Kyle Show because I wouldn’t know what do with myself.

“Y’know how they say, ‘My cup overfloweth’? I’m a lucky lad!”

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