Ricky Tomlinson gets My a*** shouted at him 50 times a day – and he loves it

Ricky Tomlinson gets a Royle welcome wherever he goes.

It has been almost a decade since Ricky last played loveable layabout Jim on comedy The Royle Family, but the character is still just as popular.

And fans just can’t resist shouting his catchphrase: “My arse!”

Ricky said: “If I go out at about 8am, by lunchtime if 50 people haven’t shouted across the road or as they pass me, ‘My arse’ then I think there’s something wrong.

And when I go to watch Liverpool play, people come over and ask if I’ll do a photo with them. I say, ‘Certainly, you can have as many as you bloody want’. That’s what it’s about.”

Fans who don’t get to see Ricky in the flesh still make sure he knows how much they love him by sending him letters.

He added: “I love people who write in. I still get fan mail about The Royle Family and I love to reply to them.

“They take the time and trouble to write to a character called Jim who they feel like they know. They say, ‘You’re just like my grandad’. There are loads of people like Jim in real life.”

Ricky loved every second he spent playing Jim on the show, which ran for 25 episodes between 1998 and 2012.

Even now he often catches episodes on telly.

But ever since its creator and his co-star Caroline Aherne passed away in 2016, it has been bittersweet.

He said: “I love it when I see episodes. It is emotional to watch them. I loved Caroline Aherne. She was a one-off. She was so talented.”

Ricky has fond memories of the days he spent on set with everyone. Every week they’d all enjoy a booze up and party together.

He said: “When we finished work on a Friday, Caroline used to put a couple of decorators’ tables up and she’d put a few cans of Sainsbury’s mild beer for me, a couple of cans of lager for the camera lads and there would be a couple of bottles of wine for Sue Johnston and Caroline.

“And after every episode was finished, everyone from wardrobe to make-up got a lottery ticket off Caroline.”

Ricky is best known for The Royle Family but he’s had a string of film and TV roles most actors would kill for. And he reckons he wouldn’t change a thing – especially not his way of life.

He said: “I still live in Liverpool. I wouldn’t like anywhere else. And I stock up on things in pound shops. I’m very happy with life.

“I’ve had a fabulous life, I’ve got a tremendous wife and a lovely family.”

Ricky is back on TV on Sunday with a wheely good show Million Pound Motorhomes

The star is taking a trip down memory lane to be reunited with a motorhome he hasn’t seen in years.

He said: “I bought it years ago from Geoffrey Hughes, who played Twiggy in The Royle Family.

“I had wonderful times in it. Wonderful holidays going to camping sites in north Wales and up to the Lake District. It’s been in storage for yonks and this show is about me going on a journey to see how it’s lasted.

“People will get a bit of a shock when they see the state of it – it needs a restoration job on it.”

Even after starring with some of the planet’s biggest stars, Ricky doesn’t think of himself as a “real” actor.

Over the years he’s worked with Samuel L Jackson, Robert Carlyle and Sacha Baron Cohen but still feels out of place. He said: “I am a ham. I am not a bloody actor. I am a builder.

‘I didn’t get into the acting game until I was into my 40s – and I got in by chance.

“When I was making The 51st State with Samuel L Jackson, I told the director, Ronny Yu, ‘I’m not a real actor, so just tell me what you want me to do and how you want me to do it’.”

Ricky added: “But I love this game.

“I enjoy it and I’ve met some lovely people. I’ve been very lucky.”

Ricky went on to reveal there's no chance of him retiring any time soon – because it would annoy his wife.

The star reckons it’s important he gives beloved Rita some space, so even at 81 he wants to keep on working.

He said: “I don’t want to retire. What would I do? I’d be under Rita’s feet all day. I’d get on her nerves.

“I like to keep myself busy. Rita makes sure I’m bloody busy. If I sit still for five minutes, she’s on my back.”

He added: “There is so much to do.”

Million Pound Motorhomes is on Sunday at 8pm on Channel 5

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