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The “Bill Bailey” punchline might have lost its meaning over the years, but this comic gag short features some of Britain’s earliest animation

Animation & Artists Moving Image 1904 1 mins Silent


Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home? No, not the surreal, half-hirsute comedian. Hughie Cannon’s 1902 jazz song was top of the pops on both side of the Atlantic in the early 20th century, and is the reference that makes this gag short make sense. But the real importance of the film today is that it seems to be the earliest date-verified example of stop-motion animation in the BFI National Archive collection.