Ricky Tomlinson granted Freedom of Liverpool

Ricky Tomlinson gets the Freedom of The City at Liverpool Town Hall
Image caption Ricky Tomlinson shot to fame in the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside

Ricky Tomlinson has been granted the Freedom of Liverpool.

The actor and trade unionist is best known for his television roles in The Royle Family and the Liverpool-based soap opera Brookside.

Tomlinson is still fighting to overturn a conviction following the 1972 builders' strike, which saw him jailed for two years.

The 75-year-old actor said: "To be given the freedom of the city I love is a highlight of my career."

Liverpool's Lord Mayor, Councillor Erica Kemp, said the actor was a "fantastic ambassador" for the city who was never afraid to speak out for others.

'Versatile and talented'

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson also paid tribute to him.

"I can't think of many people more deserving than Ricky Tomlinson to receive the Freedom of Liverpool," he said.

"As well as entertaining the nation as a versatile and talented actor, he has raised and donated millions of pounds to good causes and campaigned to raise the profile of hugely important issues, ranging from Hillsborough to human rights."

Image caption Ricky Tomlinson is best known for playing couch potato Jim Royle in The Royle Family

The son of a Liverpudlian baker, Tomlinson was a plasterer before his conviction for conspiracy to intimidate, unlawful assembly and affray in relation to his union activities during the 1972 builders' strike.

Unable to find work in the building trade on his release from prison, he ended up as an entertainer.

Tomlinson was spotted by Alan Bleasdale, who cast him in a small role in TV drama Boys From The Blackstuff in 1980.

His big break came two years later when he was given the part of trade unionist Bobby Grant in Brookside, the first soap opera on the newly established Channel 4.

Various television parts were to come his way, the best known of which was the couch potato Jim Royle in the BBC 2 comedy The Royle Family.

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