Horrible Histories is a British children's live-action historical and musical sketch comedy television series, based on the bestselling book series of the same name by Terry Deary. The show was produced for CBBC ran from 2009 to 2020 for eight series so far of thirteen half-hour episodes, with additional one-off seasonal and Olympic specials.
The TV show carries over the graphic style and much of the content of the Horrible Histories book series. It maintains the franchise's overall irreverent but accurate focus on the dark, gruesome or scatological aspects of British and other Western world history, spanning from the Stone Age to the post-World War II era. Individual historical eras or civilisations are defined and named as in the books, with sketches from several different time periods combined within a single episode. Live-action sketches—which often parody other UK media or celebrities—and music videos are intercut with animations and quizzes. The starring troupe are Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard, Sarah Hadland and Ben Willbond, alongside a large supporting cast headed by Katy Wix, Lawry Lewin, Alice Lowe and Dominique Moore. The black rat puppet "host", Rattus Rattus, appears in short bridging segments, explaining the factual basis for each sketch and helping children understand the facts.
The creative team was largely recruited from the mainstream adult UK comedy scene. They took inspiration from such quintessentially British historical-comedy classics as Blackadder and the Monty Python films. The series was a critical and ratings success, eventually gaining a wide all ages audience through its non-condescending and inclusive approach. It has won numerous domestic and international awards and has been named among the greatest British children's television series of all time.
In 2011, a spin-off game show, Horrible Histories: Gory Games, was launched on CBBC. In the same year, the original show was repackaged for main channel BBC One as Horrible Histories with Stephen Fry, with Fry replacing the puppet, Rattus Rattus, as presenter. A new series of special episodes began airing in 2015, featuring a new format and cast. It continues to be frequently repeated on the CBBC channel daily.
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WATCH HORRIBLE HISTORIES THIS WEEK
Weekdays, CBBC, various times
ALSO ON NETFLIX
The series can be caught on CBBC or on Netflix.
FILM: Bill (2015)
Tuesday 10th August, Film4, 12:35pm
ALSO ON AMAZON PRIME
Although not an official Horrible Histories film it's still from the team behind the series. A comedy looking at the life of William Shakespeare.
Monday 16th August, BBC1, 8:30pm The team have created this very funny series about an old country house filled with spirits from the past.
What's your favourite from the team behind Horrible Histories?
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