The Royle Family’s Ricky Tomlinson on revisiting prison cell he was held in for two years

Ricky Tomlinson admitted he was left in “shock” when the actor revisited the prison cell he spent time in.

It comes as Royle Family legend, 84, and his co-star Sue Johnston, 80, have joined forces to share an insight into all Liverpool has to offer as part of a brand new More4 series.

During their quest, the pair were taken back to when the former plasterer, served two years in prison on charges of conspiracy to intimidate and affray over his involvement in strike action in Shrewsbury five decades ago.

The actor was among the so-called Shrewsbury 24, who were slapped with a series of criminal convictions over their involvement in the national strike by miners, steelworkers, car workers and dockers in the 1972 national builders’ strike.

Ricky had vehemently denied all of the charges.

Speaking about his return to the prison the actor noted how much it had changed since his time there in the 70s.

“It was a shock,” he told Radio Times. “It was very different, though, it’s a tourist attraction now.”

Ricky continued: “The cells have toilets and electricity – there was nothing like that when I was there. I had to laugh, though, because as we walked in the young lady who was our guide said, ‘Oh, you’re back again!'”

Sue added: “I found it very emotional because we went in the actual cell Ricky was in and it was so oppressive. I felt very protective of him.”

In March 2021, Ricky’s conviction was overturned.

The Court of Appeal agreed that 14 of the men had been unlawfully convicted, after a decades-long campaign to overturn the perceived miscarriage of justice.

At the time, Ricky said: “The reality is we should never have been standing in the dock. We were brought to trial at the apparent behest of the building industry bosses, the Conservative government and ably supported by the secret state.

“This was a political trial not just of me and the Shrewsbury pickets, but was a trial of the trade union movement.”

Meanwhile, their More4 show, Ricky, Sue & a Trip or Two brings the much-loved pair together as they take three special road trips to explore some of the places that have helped shape their lives.

Following their first appearance as on-screen husband and wife in Brookside Close more than 40 years ago, Ricky and Sue went on to play beloved couple Jim and Barbara Royle on The Royle Family and, most recently, shared a sofa on Celebrity Gogglebox.

You can read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times out now

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