Ricky won't stop clowning around

MY A***!Famous for his role as couch potato Jim Royle in The Royle Family, Ricky Tomlinson is one of the nation's favourite funny men. And he's coming to Suffolk later this month.

James Marston

MY A***!

Famous for his role as couch potato Jim Royle in The Royle Family, Ricky Tomlinson is one of the nation's favourite funny men. And he's coming to Suffolk later this month.

Today JAMES MARSTON chats to the proud Liverpudlian about his grandchildren, romantic nature and love of an audience.

RICKY Tomlinson is pretty down to earth.

Not surrounded by endless agents, publicists and press officers it's his wife Rita who fixes up his press interviews.

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And it is Rita who answers the phone when I put through a call to Liverpool.

“Hello lad, how are you?” Ricky wants to know as soon as we are connected.

He's a man you can immediately warm to.

“I'll tell you what the audience can expect lad, and that's a bloody good laugh, an old fashioned laugh. “We've got a nice little variety show.”

This year, after a quadruple bypass operation last year, Ricky has been told to take things easy.

He said: “I feel great. I didn't go to the doctors for my heart but while I was there Rita said I had been a bit chesty. I had an X-ray and within four weeks I had a four way bypass.

“Last year I was doing a one man show but they've told me to slow things down a little bit but I love the business that much I told them I'll be doing a few shows.”

To help him Ricky has secured the services of some comedy circuit chums Pauline Daniels, Duncan Norville and Tony Barton and the group is already on tour and are due to perform at Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion on March 15.

Ricky said: “It's a lot of fun. People have been amazing and we have a lot of fun.”

It is Ricky's love of people and seeing people enjoy themselves that drives him on.

He said: “Look, there's nothing to equal a good laugh. I don't mind the odd heckler as long as the banter is good.”

Learning his trade in the northern clubland circuit, Ricky and Pauline are of the same ilk.

He said: “She gives as good as she gets. Between the four of us we've got a nice little variety show.”

Ricky said meeting the audience after the show is one of the highlights of touring.

He said: “I love the contact with people and if they have taken time to come and see us and spent money it's the least I can do to come out and see them.

“I've no time for those people that won't come out afterwards. People ask for photos and I think we are obliged to do it and give people a chance to meet the real person.”

Proud of his roots and still based in Liverpool, Ricky said he also enjoys coming to the south of the UK.

He added: “I love coming down south and Jim Royle gets a good reaction everywhere, people take to him for some reason.”

Tickets for the Ricky Tomlinson laughter show are available from the Spa Pavilion box office on 01394 282126.

Are you a fan of Ricky Tomlinson? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Do you have an unfulfilled ambition?

“I've fulfilled most of mine. I idolise my grandson, he's three years old and I've just been making a rocket for him.

“I'd like to write a series of children's books that are affordable for families with two or three kids.”

Tell us something about yourself that our readers won't know?

“I'm probably the most romantic man that you could ever meet. I love poetry. I send my wife little notes and love letters.”

What was your most embarrassing moment?

“That's easy. I was at a party in London at the Groucho Club where I had never been.

“Everyone in show business was there and I went up to this guy on his own and asked him of he was ok and if he was in the business. I was later introduced to him by Jeremy Irons. He was Robert De Niro.”

What car do you drive?

“I'm not really into cars. I have a small four by four and we are doing up a cottage we've got in Cheshire so it's probably got a bag of cement in the back.”

What was the highlight of your career?

“I was in a film called Nasty Neighbours. Very few people have seen it though.”

What's your diva demand in the dressing room?

“Tons of tea.”

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