Radio star of the Second World War when, with a lot of public entertainment such as theatre closing down, the culture of the wireless predominated. Born in Threlfall Street, Toxteth Park, Handley sold prams in Duke Street before being called up for World War I. He began performing in variety shows, then came to national fame on the eve of World War II with the launch of the radio programme ITMA (It's That Man Again). The show was still running when Handley died aged 57.
'He loved wordplay and alliteration,' said Ken Dodd in his tribute to Handley, whom Doddy named as one of his four top Liverpool comic heroes. (The others were Rob Wilton, Ted Ray and Arthur Askey.)
As bureaucracy proliferated in wartime, listeners appreciated Tommy's send-ups, playing the part of the Minister of Aggravation and Mysteries at the Office of Twerps. There were a number of Merseyside references scattered arond the script: for instance, a character called Frisby Dyke was named after a draper's shop in Lord Street.
Here is a clip of a film version. The synchronisation is way out, but the title typography is wonderful.
See another clip of Tommy Handley in action
It's That Man Again