Tommy Handley

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

Tommy Handley
Thomas Reginald Handley

(1892-01-17)17 January 1892
Died9 January 1949(1949-01-09) (aged 56)
London, UK

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, broadcast regularly. He worked with people such as Arthur Askey, and wrote many radio scripts, but it is the BBC comedy series ITMA for which he is best remembered, and which itself became known for a number of catchphrases, some of which entered popular vocabulary.[1] He starred in the films ITMA (1942) and in Time Flies (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 at the British Film Institute
  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 16 December 2007.
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