THERE are some people you look forward to interviewing more than others.
The Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson definitely falls into the former category.
Now Ricky, 67, aims to put the record straight about his time behind bars: “I want to clear my name before I die,” he says.
Before his big break as Bobby Grant in Brookside, and later role as Manchester’s Jim Royle, Ricky worked on a building site.
In 1973 he was sent to prison for two years for his part in the national building strike.
BBC1’s One Life: Guilty My Arse highlights his story. He has always insisted he was innocent and the trial was politically motivated.
Press info for programme, which also happens to be the 50th edition of One Life, explains more.
He claims the “real conspiracy” was on the part of the Conservative government of the day, who were determined to make an example of the striking builders to stamp out the practice of “flying picketing”.
Ricky still describes himself as a “former political prisoner” and is determined to get justice for himself and the other men convicted with him.
A total of 24 workers were accused of violence and intimidation during the picketing of sites in Shrewsbury and Telford in 1972. But six of the 24. including Ricky, were special cases.
They were also charged under a 19th century law of having been part of a conspiracy to prevent the building companies from going about their “lawful business”, and three of them were found guilty.
One Life, due to be screened on Tue Mar 27, follows Ricky as he revisits some of the people and places connected to the strike.
Recently released court documents allow him to re-examine the case in detail for the first time.
Government papers, only just made public, also reveal the depth of political interest in the criminal case against Ricky and the others.
But ask him about his time in prison and he’ll always mention one positive aspect.
An astute prison governor recommended he read The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell.
And the novel, first published in 1914, helped change Ricky’s life.