Bill Tidy was born in Tranmere on 9th October 1933, christened William Edward, he shared the names with his father, a merchant seaman who disappeared from the scene shortly after his son’s birth. Bill’s mother, Catherine, reverted to her name from her first marriage, Price, but insisted that her son kept the Tidy name. In his autobiography he recalls how he pestered his mother to be called Price but accepts that in the long run Bill Tidy was a much more memorable name for a cartoonist than Bill Price.
Needing to support herself and her family, Catherine Price successfully applied to be the licensee of an off-licence at 122 Oakfield Road L4, which was Bill’s home for many years. The move brought him close to the home of Liverpool F.C. but it did not stop Bill being a life-long Evertonian. After primary school he attended St Margaret’s Anfield and like many of his peers drifted into menial employment as an office boy on one of the many shipping firms in the city. He found the work depressingly dull and, as national service was looming anyway, he chose to sign on as a regular with the Royal Engineers. After serving in Germany he was anxious to serve further afield and before long he found himself as part of the British contingent supporting the United Nations forces in the Korean War. It was while serving in the far east that he had his first cartoon published, in a Japanese magazine.
Returning to Liverpool he determined to make his way in the world as a cartoonist and after many trials and tribulations he became a leading figure in his field. With such memorable creations as The Cloggies and The Fosdyke Saga he also established a wider career as a TV and radio personality appearing in many of the leading shows of the day including Blankety Blank and Countdown. The Fosdyke Saga became a long-running BBC radio show, written by Tidy with John Junkin. He was especially gifted in being able to draw quickly, an ability which saw him working on TV alongside the similarly capable (but now disgraced) Rolf Harris. He published in many of the best selling newspapers and magazines of the time, with notable contributions to Punch and Private Eye.
He met his Italian wife, Rosa, on a flight from Liverpool to London, proposing after knowing her just a few weeks. When his mother gave up her job in the off-licence they moved to Southport, where he lived for many years before moving to Walsall and then Leicestershire. He was made an MBE in 2001.
Bill Tidy died on 11th March 2023 aged 89.
The off-license where he grew up was situated on the corner.
The best source by far is Bill Tidy's engaging and humorous autobiography Is There Any News of the Iceberg [Smith Gyphon 1995].The Wikipedia entry is a bit basic but a search will reveal many worthwhile obituaries. There are many clips of his Tv work on YouTube. He was the subject of This Is Your Life in December 1975 but I have been unable to find any clips online.
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