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Freedom of the city? My Arse!

Ricky Tomlinson's catchphrase is etched into historic scroll as he receives Liverpool's highest honour

Written by . Published on October 7th 2014.

Freedom of the city? My Arse!

RICKY Tomlinson was handed the Freedom of Liverpool last night, with his long suffering screen wife at his side.

She played Sheila Grant in Brookside, and Barbara Royle in the Royle Family, and as actress Sue Johnston, she continues to stand by her leading man's 40-odd year battle to clear his name.

It was the night soap opera and real life took centre stage in the ornate council chamber at Liverpool Town Hall.

And never, in the history of Liverpool, could civic calligraphers have dreamed they would some day be required to pen such an elegant phrase on an illuminated scroll. But there it was on the declaration proclaiming Ricky Tomlinson a Freeman of Liverpool, his famous catchphrase: “My A---”.

Amidst the pomp and ceremony, it seemed even the Town Hall mandarins were allowed a titter.

So the parchment, in its own wooden casket, was handed by Lord Mayor Erica Kemp to the 75-year old actor, comedian and political campaigner, an everlasting reminder for Tomlinson generations to come, of what has become the actor's trademark.

Ricky And Erica Kemp Lord MayorRicky And Erica Kemp Lord Mayor

1-Img_3564What it says: The words on Ricky's illuminated scroll granting him the Freedom of Liverpool

Away from the podium Sue Johnston spoke to Liverpool Confidential of her life-long admiration for Ricky.

 “I think his freedom is so impressive and so well deserved, especially if he can get in everywhere  for free. That will suit him fine.  Seriously though, he is passionate about Liverpool, this city, he is Mister Liverpool as far as I am concerned. He is iconic.”

Looking cosy as he sat upright in a wood-carved, upholstered leather chair, could Mr T have been a politician?

“Ricky would have made a brilliant politician,” she said, “in fact he is a politician, and definitely on my side.  He would get my vote all the time if he stood up for a job in Parliament. He’s on the right side.”

What about a return to the screen as a husband and wife team?

“Who knows what the future holds? Let’s hope The Royle Family isn’t dead and dusted. It would be joyful if we could do another show. I would love to work with him again, he is a brilliant actor.

She added: “Ricky takes on his part and immerses into the character. He always said he wasn’t good enough because he wasn’t trained, whereas I was classically trained.  I’d tell him he is real, he becomes the person he is playing, and I learned a lot from him, his truthfulness and his passion for acting is beyond belief and his ability to switch between comedy and drama, making you laugh and cry.”

What about his campaign with the Shrewsbury 24 to free his name after a prison sentence imposed during the 1970s national building workers’ strike?

“The campaign been going on too long for him,” Sue said, “and I know how much it means to him. Before I met Ricky, before I even knew him, I went on that march from Coventry in support of the Shrewsbury pickets. Let’s hope, fingers crossed, something will come of the campaign.”

Ricky wasn’t exactly lost for words at his elevation to the greatest honour the city can bestow in a citizen. “It’s still sinking in, it is some awesome,” he said.

“I don’t believe in the honours list, the gongs, knighthoods and stuff like that, a lot of them are not deserved. But this is totally different to be given the freedom of my city is beyond my wildest dreams and beliefs. It is the greatest honour of my life, from the city and the people of this city who I love.”


And Ricky isn't averse to working as a double act with his on-screen missus in the real-life political world.

“I wish they’d put me and Sue Johnno in charge of the country for 12 months, it would be tremendous.”

Will the release of vital documents (to support his campaign) depend on who wins the next general election?

“I don’t care who wins. The documents will be released and I am confident within the next 12 months the convictions will be quashed.”

Mayor Joe Anderson, describing the actor as a ‘Scouser’s Scouser’ said in the last 112 years only 53 people have received the Freedom of Liverpool.

He told a packed council chamber: “So rarely given, only rare and special people receive the honour. Ricky Tomlinson, for me, is indeed a very rare and special person who is without doubt a truly deserving recipient of this award.   I can tell you that this award to Ricky is the one that I have taken the most joy and pride in being part of.”

He spoke of how Ricky Tomlinson had lived life to the full - “a life full of challenges and heartache, one filled with hope and laughter.”

Ricky Tomlinson A Life Filled With LaughterRicky Tomlinson:  'A life filled with laughter'

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Mr. GrimsdaleOctober 8th 2014.

That's an illuminated address from the Mayor, Pitkin!

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