Lonnie Donegan & Me – Documentary


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Downton Abbey’s Mr Carson may have hung up his butler’s jacket for good but even as his final
scenes were being shot, actor Jim Carter was already at work on a remarkable and long cherished
film about the King of Skiffle, 1950s singer Lonnie Donegan.

Jim shares with us a life-long passion, that began aged 11 after watching Lonnie play at a
seaside variety theatre, and recounts the story of Lonnie’s impact on pop culture and a generation
of British musicians who went on to conquer the world.

Produced by Artisan Pictures in association with Spring Films, this film documents Jim’s encounters
with some of the seminal rockers who were inspired to take up music by Lonnie Donegan. Sir Paul
McCartney, Ringo Starr, Roger Daltrey and Sir Van Morrison tell tales of taking up tea chests,
washboards and even homemade guitars to make the music which would set them on the path to
superstardom. Jack White of The White Stripes also reflects on the importance of Lonnie as a figure
in the development of popular music.

Once the most famous singer in Britain, Lonnie is almost forgotten, remembered mainly for novelty
hits like ‘My Old Man’s A Dustman’, and not his high energy and self-styled Skiffle music that helped
shake off the post-war greyness of the 1950s and kick-start the teenage music explosion of the 1960s.

Without Lonnie there might have been no Beatles and the film exclusively airs the earliest known
recording of 16-year-old John Lennon, singing one of Lonnie’s hits with his Skiffle group The Quarrymen
in 1957.
It also unearths archive footage from Lonnie’s hit prime time 1960s TV show, Puttin’ on the Donegan,
seen again for the first time since it aired.

Jim traces Lonnie’s rollercoaster life and career, meeting Lonnie’s fans and family, including his
first wife and his widow, as well as his son. And Jim’s own wife, actress Imelda Staunton, reveals
her views on life with a Lonnie Donegan fanatic