Ricky has had no acting lessons, and is quoted as saying that most of the time he is just playing himself. That character is one of humble beginnings - he was born into a poor family in Liverpool during World War II. He has lived in Liverpool all his life, apart from a brief period when he was evacuated to Blackpool.
Ricky has never been afraid to make a stand for his socialist beliefs. His involvement in a builders' strike in 1972 saw him jailed for conspiracy - a charge he has always denied. MI5 kept a file on him, in which he was labelled a 'political thug'. He has also spoken in support of Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party.
Ricky is a man of many talents. He might have made it as a footballer, but turned down a trial with Scunthorpe United. As well as acting, he's a comedian and banjo player. These talents were to stand him in good stead when he was blacklisted on his release from prison - he forged an entertainment career.
Art imitating life
Ricky first worked with Royle Family co-star Sue Johnston on Brookside, they played Bobby and Sheila Grant. Mirroring his political beliefs, his character was an uncompromising trade union official who was always ready to lend a hand in the community.
Playboy, like my a***
Ricky was offered a five-figure sum by an undisclosed magazine to pose naked. Declining, he said "Who's going to go into a bookshop and say 'give us that magazine with Tommo in the nude'?" However, if you're keen to see him in his birthday suit, check out the film Riff Raff, in which he bares his bum.
Turning down Spielberg
Ricky was offered a part in Steven Spielberg's Minority Report, which he had to turn down, as he was already committed to the rather more prosaic Mike Bassett: England Manager. And so the viewing public were denied the chance of seeing him kitted out in a silver jumpsuit alongside Tom Cruise.
From actor to writer
Ricky has dabbled in writing, making contributions to the scripts for The Royle Family. And he was reportedly paid £800,000 for his 2003 autobiography.