It's That Man Again (or more commonly ITMA) was a BBC radio comedy programme which ran from 1939 to 1949. The title was a contemporary phrase referring to ever more frequent news-stories about Hitler in the lead-up to World War II, and specifically a headline in the Daily Express written by Bert Gunn. This was humorously transferred to Tommy Handley, the popular comedian around whom the programme was developed. The scripts were written by the prolific Ted Kavanagh. "ITMA" is believed to have played a major role in sustaining morale on the UKs 'home front' during the Second World War.
The show was broadcast from the BBC Wales studios in Bangor, Caernarvonshire, north Wales, where the BBC's Light Entertainment Department was based during World War II.
Other performers included Jack Train, a master of voices; Clarence Wright who played the commercial traveller and the man from the ministry Deryck Guyler and Hattie Jacques, who played Sophie Tuckshop, the earliest of Jacques' roles dependent upon her physical size. The programme featured dozens of other characters, such as Mrs Mopp, and Colonel Chinstrap. The speed at which the performances were delivered is still considered remarkable, even given later technical developments. Many gags were dependent on breaking news - Ted Kavanagh once admitted to being unable to understand some jokes in earlier scripts.
Some years later, Train reprised the role of Colonel Chinstrap for a couple of guest appearances on The Goon Show including the episode "Shifting Sands".
ITMA ran for over 300 episodes between 1939 and 1949. When Handley died, announced immediately after the usual second repeat, it was cancelled because he was considered irreplaceable as its star.
Mrs Mopp is referenced in The Kinks song "The Village Green Preservation Society" from their 1968 album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.
In 1943 a film adaptation was made of the series also titled It's That Man Again.
ITMA contained many catchphrases:
- "Can I do you now, Sir?" - Mrs Mopp (the office char)
- "I don’t mind if I do" Colonel Humphrey Chinstrap turning innocent remarks into the offer of a drink.
- "After you, Claude - no, After you Cecil" (Moving men)
- "TTFN" (Ta ta for now)
- "This is Funf speaking" - Funf, the German spy.
- "I go - I come back" - Ali Oop.
- "It's being so cheerful as keeps me going" - Mona Lott.
- "I'm going down now sir" - Diver.
- "Don't forget the diver"
- "But I'm all right now!" -Sophie Tuckshop, after describing a long list of food she had eaten.
- "Morning nice day" (the commercial traveller)
- "I am as happy as a sandbag" (the commercial traveller)
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