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Eric Tomlinson (born 26 September 1939, Bispham, Blackpoolmarker, Lancashiremarker), known by his stage name Ricky Tomlinson, is an Englishmarker film and television actor, best known for his starring role as the character Jim Royle on the popular BBC situation comedy The Royle Family and his dismissive catch phrase, "my arse".

Early life

Tomlinson was born Eric Tomlinson in Bisphammarker, Blackpoolmarker, but has lived in Liverpoolmarker for most of his life. Tomlinson was born in Bispham because his mother, Peggy, was evacuated there due to the Liverpool Blitz in World War II.

A trained and qualified plasterer by trade, he worked on various building sites for many years, becoming actively involved in trade union politics. In 1972, he joined the flying picket in a building workers' dispute in Shrewsburymarker. He was sentenced to six years in prison, of which he served two, after being found guilty of 'conspiracy to intimidate' as one of the so-called Shrewsbury Two, 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 MI5marker had monitored him during the 1970s.

In his 2003 autobiography, he admitted that between 1968 and 1972, prior to his involvement with trade union politics, he was a member of the National Front, which he now bitterly regrets and which he puts down to being "politically naive and poorly educated".

Career highlights

As an actor he has found considerable success, appearing as Bobby Grant in the soap opera Brookside, as DCI Charlie Wise in Cracker and as Jim Royle in the sitcom The Royle Family.

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.

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 disaster.

Tomlinson has fronted a series of commercial for the utility company British Gas.

In 2003 he published an autobiography, entitled Ricky, which spent five weeks at the top of the UK best selling new books chart.

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?". A CD album entitled Music My Arse was released the same year. He released a single at Christmas 2006 entitled Christmas My Arse which reached #25 in the UK Singles Chart.

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.

In December 2006 he presented a programme in Five's Disappearing Britain series entitled When Coal was King, in which he made controversial comments about Margaret Thatcher's potential death.

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

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

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


Tomlinson is a personal 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, being its most prominent celebrity supporter. 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 (Solidarity MSP) and Tony Mulhearn in which he used the slogan "New Labour my arse".


DVD Releases

The UK home video version of Ricky's Laughter Show Live was released by Lace DVD on Monday 10 November 2008. Filmed at a sell-out show at Runcorn during the Laughter Show Live national tour, the disc runs for over two hours and includes three extras: "Card School My Arse", "Caption My Arse", and "More Gags". A box set was released the same day containing both DVDs of this and last year's release Football My Arse. A trailer can be found on both Amazon and YouTube.


  1. His Royle shyness, The Observer, October 5 2003
  2. "Actor Tomlinson has heart surgery", BBC News, 19 October 2007
  3. See
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