William Edward "Bill" Tidy, MBE (born 9 October 1933), is a British cartoonist, writer and television personality, known chiefly for his comic strips. Tidy was appointed MBE in 2000 for "Services to Journalism". He is noted for his charitable work, particularly for the Lord's Taverners, which he has supported for over 30 years. Deeply proud of his working-class roots in the north of England, his most abiding cartoon strips, such as The Cloggies and the Fosdyke Saga, have been set in an exaggerated version of that environment. He now lives in Boylestone, Derbyshire.
He was born in Tranmere, a suburb of Birkenhead, Cheshire, on 9 October 1933 and brought up in Liverpool, where he was educated to the age of 15 at St Margaret's School, Anfield. His first published cartoon appeared in the school magazine.
After working in a shipping office Tidy joined the Royal Engineers. He sold his first cartoon to a Japanese newspaper in 1955 and in the same year left the army. He found work in a Liverpool advertising agency the following year, where he drew illustrations for advertisements in magazines. Despite having no formal artistic training, he began to sell cartoons on a freelance basis and soon left the agency to work full-time as a professional cartoonist.
As his work became better known and began to be published in the Daily Sketch and Daily Mirror, he moved to London where, together with a number of his contemporaries in Fleet Street, he formed the British Cartoonists' Association. Tidy is known for his cartoon strips — The Cloggies ran from 1967 to 1981 in the weekly satirical magazine Private Eye, and The Fosdyke Saga was published daily in the Daily Mirror from 1971 to 1984; the latter was a parody of The Forsyte Saga, set in the industrial north instead of a genteel upper-class environment. This was broadcast as a radio series in 42 parts by the BBC from 1983, with additional scripting by John Junkin. It also became a stage play with Tidy working in co-operation with playwright Alan Plater. Tidy recently restarted producing the Fosdyke Saga cartoon strip on his own website where he also offers a variety of his works for sale.
Other cartoon strip series and individual cartoons have been published in many other newspapers and magazines, including New Scientist, What's Brewing? (CAMRA's monthly magazine), and Punch. When Punch ceased publication, Tidy attempted to buy the title. He has also written 20 books and illustrated 70.
Tidy's many TV appearances have included Countdown, Watercolour Challenge, Through the Keyhole and Countryfile. His radio appearances include an accomplished performance on an 1988 edition of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, when he stood in for Barry Cryer. He wrote and presented Draw Me, a children's television series in 13 parts. He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1975.
Tidy's artistic style is similar to that of his late friend and fellow cartoonist, Larry. However, where Larry's cartoons are usually the graphic equivalent of one-liner jokes, Tidy tends to work in longer forms with verbal as well as visual humour.
Tidy's career has now taken him into the world of corporate speaking and hosting where he is in great demand from organisations who are entertained at events by his wit and live drawing.
- "Is There Any News of the Iceberg?" - Bill Tidy's autobiography (published 1995 by Smith Gryphon) - the title alluding to a cartoon of Tidy's showing a man with a polar bear posing this concerned question to a newspaper vendor on seeing a board announcing the sinking of the RMS Titanic
- Bill Tidy's home page
- Bill Tidy Exhibition 2005
- Bill Tidy's Twitter
- British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent biography