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Ricky Tomlinson (born September 26 1939) is an English actor, born in Blackpool but a long-time resident of Liverpool.
Before turning to acting, he worked as a building site plasterer for many years, becoming involved in trade union politics and activism. In 1972, having joined the flying pickets in a building workers dispute in Shrewsbury he was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of 'conspiracy to intimidate' as one of the so-called "Shrewsbury Two" (with Des Warren), and in 1975 disrupted the TUC conference by shouting from the wings after he had been prevented from speaking from the stage. It was revealed in 2002 that he had been monitored in the 1970s by MI5. He is a well-known supporter of left-wing politics.
As an actor he has found considerable success in recent years, appearing as Bobby Grant, one of the original fiesty characters, in the popular soap opera Brookside; starring as Jim Royle in the sitcom The Royle Family. Despite his publicly espoused socialist principles, he has fronted a series of commercials for privatised former nationalised utility British Gas. He also played Robbie Coltrane's second boss in Cracker, his character replacing Christopher Eccleston's. He 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 tragedy of 1989 attempt to get justice for their relatives' deaths. He has released an autobiography, entitled Ricky.
Tomlinson is also a keen banjo player, having played the instrument in many of the 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, Are You Lookin' At Me? and It's A Long Way To Tipperary. A CD album entitled Music My Arse was released the same year.
In 2002 Tomlinson starred in the BBC TV Series Nice Guy Eddie playing a Liverpool private investigator. Using down-to-earth cases - actually based upon real life cases by Liverpool private investigator Tony Smith - the show also starred Tom Ellis and John Henshaw.
On 19 June 2006 Tomlinson made his debut as the guest celebrity in Dictionary Corner on the popular and long-running UK Channel 4 game show Countdown.
In the summer of 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.
Tomlinson sparked a security scare at his former home town of Wrexham after discovering a suspicious device at his son's home. Fearing the worst, he put the device into a plastic bag and dashed across town with it in an effort to alert authorities. He eventually handed it in at a social services building in Wrexham, North Wales, where police were called and the building was evacuated. Town centre traffic was also diverted due to the incident. The item was then found to be harmless.
On 29 October 2006 he starred in a special episode of The Royle Family entitled The Royle Family: The Queen of Sheba.
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