The Dan Leno Project

This is the promotional film by Studio 1919 that launched the Dan Leno Project during the British Music Hall Society’s 50th anniversary event at Wilton’s Music Hall, London, 20th to 22nd September 2013.

Studio 1919’s Dan Leno Project began with our re-discovery of the short reel now known as Dessert at Dan Leno’s House, shot by the British Mutoscope and Biograph Company in 1902 and believed lost since the early 20th century.

Dan Leno was the most popular comedy actor and performer of Music Hall and Pantomime in the late 1800s. The first ‘patter’ comedian, he is the originator of stand-up comedy, profoundly altered the nature of Pantomime and influenced many comedy performers that followed, in particular Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel. His influence reached well into the 20th century and touched Peter Sellers.

Although Leno did not survive into the age of film, with the discovery of these early moving images we have a glimpse of him at the beginning of modern celebrity culture.

The restoration of this reel to better than high definition will continue and further material will be posted here and on the project web-site. Follow the technical progress on the web-site.

Leno is known to have featured in thirteen short Mutoscope features, but all but two are currently missing.

The Dan Leno Project has two goals:

To encourage the re-examination of collections of Mutoscope cards and reels in private and public collections to identify what is recorded on them.

To bring together experts, enthusiasts, visual and sound material to tell the story of this forgotten comedy genius in an independently produced documentary film using interviews, graphics and animation and the opinions of his contemporaries brought to life by actors.

We would like to find more. If you wish to help the production with stories and resources, please see for more information.

Join us on our journey to re-discover this forgotten genius…

Thomas Everchild, Philippa Hammond, (Studio 1919) MMXIII

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