Ricky Tomlinson: Countdown's Richard Whiteley was a 'spy' who jailed me

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 2 March 2017
Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson

Ricky Tomlinson says 'Countdown' host Richard Whiteley was a government spy and reckons he helped to jail him in 1973, when he made a documentary that changed the minds of the jury

Ricky Tomlinson thinks Richard Whiteley was responsible for his imprisonment in 1973 because he was a secret government spy.

The 'Royle Family' star - who was a plasterer before his glittering career in comedy - was sentenced to two years in prison after he organised the first national building workers' strike, but he's convinced the late 'Countdown' host is to blame because he worked undercover for the intelligence services, and an ITV documentary titled 'Red Under the Bed' that he presented with Woodrow Wyatt persuaded members of the jury to put him away because it aired on the night they deliberated evidence.

He told The Chester Chronicle newspaper: "We've just discovered that they made a film which went out on television the night the jury were out considering the verdict called 'Red Under the Bed' and it was so anti-trade union that two of the jury changed their mind and brought a majority verdict in of 10-2 guilty.

"We found out this week that the film was designed, written, made and paid for by the security services. Woodrow Wyatt was a member of the security services and unbelievably so was Richard Whiteley who hosted the show.

"Richard Whiteley from 'Countdown' was a member of the intelligence services."

Ricky and the defendants were the so-called Shrewsbury pickets and there has been a campaign to clear their names as alleged victims of a political conspiracy.

The 77-year-old comedian - who was born in Blackpool but grew up in Liverpool - admitted he would have "strangled" Richard when they met on 'Countdown' years later if he'd known about his involvement in his prison fate.

He explained to the publication: "The security services paid to have the ­programme made, so they had to use someone of their own ilk to be the ­chairperson. It was common knowledge.

"The security services use media ­people as part of the intelligence ­services. I must have done 'Countdown' four or five times.

"I didn't know at the time, I wish I had known, I'd have strangled him. There's all sorts of people involved. It was a carve up right from the go."

Ricky also insisted he has proof in the form of confidential documents that were passed to him from an informant but he'll never reveal his source.

He added: "We've only just scratched the surface. I can't reveal my sources, we'd be hung, drawn and quartered. People would lose their jobs."

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