Billy Merson Singing 'Desdemona' (1927)

Related Pages



  • Description

    Billy Merson, the great Nottingham-born music hall performer, here presents one of his signature numbers while looking not unlike Frankie Howerd in 'Up Pompeii'. Shakespearean scholars may be disappointed to discover that his little ditty about Desdemona (sounding like an illness and rhyming with 'pneumonia') has nothing to do with the wife of the Moor of Venice whatsoever. On the upside, the film clearly captures Merson's comic brilliance - he not only sings, but dances, skips and indulges in a lot of creative business with a lyre. Merson had been making films since 1915 and, eager to ensure that his patter could be shared with cinema audiences, was among the first to experiment with the new sound technology. Indeed, 'Desdemona' is often cited as Britain's first sound film. (Robin Baker) All titles on the BFI Films channel are preserved in the vast collections of the BFI National Archive. To find out more about the Archive visit
  • Owner

  • Source

    BFI (Youtube)
  • License

    What does this mean? Standard Youtube License
  • Further information

    Resource type: Video
    Last modified: 5 years, 6 months ago
    Viewed: 221 times
    Picture Taken: Unknown
  • Co-Curate tags


Add a comment or share a memory.

Login to add a comment. Sign-up if you don't already have an account.


Co-Curate is a project which brings together online collections, museums, universities, schools and community groups to make and re-make stories and images from North East England and Cumbria. Co-Curate is a trans-disciplinary project that will open up 'official' museum and 'un-officia'l co-created community-based collections and archives through innovative collaborative approaches using social media and open archives/data.