Born Eric Tomlinson on September 26, 1939, in Blackpool, England, actor and banjo aficionado Ricky Tomlinson was best known for his role as the head of the household, Jim Royle in the hit British television show, The Royle Family. Although his ability as an actor carried him to great heights, it was not his first calling. As a younger man, Tomlinson was involved in construction, and became heavily involved with trade union movements in the seventies. In fact, he was so well-known for his involvement that Tomlinson ended up serving time, and was watched by the British secret service for a time during that decade. Having turned his focus to acting, Tomlinson appeared in his first film role in 1990. He eventually appeared in hit television soap Brookside, and then landed the role that made him a household name in England -- and in many other parts of the world -- that of Jim Royle. He would also go on to a number of other shows, including a number of football-themed films. In 2001, the world was treated to his other skill, that of banjo player, when he released an album of songs entitled Music My Arse. In 2006, he released a Christmas single, entitled "Christmas My Arse," which managed a top 25 placing. In 2006, he began touring, in interview format under the show title An Evening With Ricky Tomlinson. In 2007, he had some ups and downs, on the one hand presenting a program on the BBC that documented his side of his legal troubles stemming from his trade unionist days, and on the other undergoing heart bypass surgery. He made a full recovery.