Tommy Handley

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Tommy Handley
Tommy Handley.jpg
Born Thomas Reginald Handley
(1892-01-17)17 January 1892
Toxteth Park, Liverpool, Lancashire, England, UK
Died 9 January 1949(1949-01-09) (aged 56)
London, England, UK
Cause of death Cerebral haemorrhage
Occupation Comedian
British comedian Tommy Handley rehearses with actors from his ITMA show and the Royal Marines band during a visit to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow, January 1944

Thomas Reginald "Tommy" Handley (17 January 1892 – 9 January 1949) was a British comedian, mainly known for the BBC radio programme ITMA ("It's That Man Again"). He was born at Toxteth Park, Liverpool in Lancashire.

He served with a kite balloon section of the Royal Naval Air Service during the First World War and went on to work in variety, and in the infancy of radio became known as a regular broadcaster. He worked with people such as Arthur Askey and Bob Monkhouse, and wrote many radio scripts, but it is the BBC comedy series ITMA for which he is best known, and which itself became known for a number of catchphrases, some of which entered popular vocabulary.[1] He later starred in the ITMA film in 1942 and in Time Flies in 1944.[2]

In later years, he suffered with high blood pressure, the result of his driving commitment to ITMA, and died suddenly on 9 January 1949 from a brain haemorrhage, eight days before his 57th birthday. He was cremated and his ashes placed in the rhododendron bed at Golders Green Crematorium.

In a eulogy at his memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral, the Bishop of London, John W.C. Wand, said that "he was one whose genius transmuted the copper of our common experience into the gold of exquisite foolery. His raillery was without cynicism, and his satire without malice".[3]


On 7 November 2006, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a review of one of his partnerships, Mr Murgatroyd and Mr Winterbottom: "The story of Tommy Handley and Ronald Frankau, a comedy partnership which had its heyday in the 1930s world of radio. There was no straight man, so the partnership was a rare one. Tommy was a fast talking Liverpudlian, while Ronald in contrast was upper class and Eton-educated. Presented by Nicholas Frankau, actor and grandson of Ronald."[4]



  1. ^ "ITMA catchphrases", Local History Liverpool, BBC, July 2002, retrieved 30 August 2011 
  2. ^ Time Flies in the British Film Institute's "Explore film..." database
  3. ^ Those vintage years of radio, p. 142, at Google Books
  4. ^ "Mr Murgatroyd and Mr Winterbottom". BBC Radio 4: Arts and Drama. BBC. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 

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