Horrible Histories - In The Press

All the regulars are out in force with new sketches in this Valentine's Day one-off special, but don't expect them to go soppy. Not when Rattus Rattus's idea of a romantic meal is "cockroach in jus de rubbish bag" and Henry VIII is taking part in a TV show called Dating in the Dark - where he falls in love with Anne of Cleves. Our advice: don't turn the lights on, Anne!

Anne Jowett, Radio Times, 14th February 2014

The songs are genius. I mean, seriously, you can take the Wiggles, put them in a hessian sack and fire them into space.

Written by Lucy Sweet. The Mirror, 15th December 2013

BBC educational sketch series Horrible Histories has become the first programme to win four consecutive BAFTAs at the Children's Awards, having topped the comedy category yet again.

BBC News, 25th November 2013

An interview with the author of the Horrible Histories books.

Written by Kieran James. The Good Review, 31st August 2013

Popular children's show Horrible Histories has come to an end, with viewing celebrating its humourous take on history on Twitter.

Metro, 17th July 2013

The cast and crew of CBBC's best show explain how they turn musty old history into minor pop classics.

Written by Jack Seale. The Radio Times, 6th June 2013

The award-winning Horrible Histories has returned for a triumphant fifth series, putting its distinct comic twist upon epochs long gone, plus a few that are, disconcertingly, more recent.

Included among the Slimy Stuarts, Smashing Saxons and Vile Victorians was the Troublesome Twentieth Century, featuring Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 weight-loss programme from 1969 - no willpower was required, but you did need a 36-storey-high space rocket to get you to the Moon, where minimal gravity reduced your weight by 82%.

I'm not sure how I feel about Horrible Histories catching up with my own era - who knows, the next step could involve my featuring in the show's Stupid Deaths slot - but I am definitely a big fan of the show.

Quite apart from being very funny, constantly inventive and subliminally educational, it also has the courage to tackle potentially controversial events head on. Re-imagining Rosa Parks' celebrated civil rights protest as a soul number explained a complex issue in a clever, concise and accessible way without trivialising it.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 31st May 2013

It's no secret that many alleged "grown-ups" are supplementing their haphazard history educations with CBBC's Horrible Histories, back for its fifth series with lovely, daft input from The League of Gentlemen. Tiny, mighty Sarah Hadland from Miranda and funny, clever Alice Lowe, writer of Sightseers are regular faces too. To adult eyes, Horrible Histories has the distinct feel of a group of bright, young, erudite, writery-actory sparks having a tremendously good time. One that they probably wouldn't be permitted to have anywhere else on telly.

Kids love them as they are the most peculiar sort of grown-ups. The sort of wonky uncles and aunties who turn up to tea with mild hangovers, scant regard for etiquette and a host of stories about idiot highway men, Second World War bat bombs (bombs attached to bats, prone to exploding before they left the American base) and an imaginary CD compilation called Now That's What I Call Spartan Warrior Music.

There's something about the Horrible Histories gang I find terrifically, stupidly, funny. They're the best bits of Monty Python, Roald Dahl, Tiswas, BBC2's The Tudors and The Young Ones all shoved into a bin and bashed with a stick. "Divorced, beheaded and Died! Divorced, Beheaded, Survived!" is the song that carousels in my mind whenever anyone mentions Henry VIII. Horrible Histories drummed the order of Henry's wives and their fates into my mind where A-level cramming failed forlornly. If only Mathew Baynton and Ben Willbond had shown up at my school in the Nineties and sung a few songs about the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, I could have a proper job now. Not just writing down stuff I think, drinking Earl Grey and taking Yodel deliveries in for neighbours.

Grace Dent, The Independent, 31st May 2013

We celebrate five glorious years of Horrible Histories with 40 frankly fantastic facts, but can you spot the one fake?

Written by Greg Jenner. The Radio Times, 27th May 2013

"Gory stories we do that - and your host's a talking rat!" The return of the best thing on telly, this week featuring Smashing Saxons (and their superhero-style Gods), Vile Victorians, and Gorgeous Georgians. But the stand-out highlight is Dominique Moore as civil rights icon Rosa Parks, singing a frankly brilliant Motown-style number called I Sat On The Bus: "I made a stand in my home town of Montgomery, Alabama/Refused to stand/For a white man/So they put me in the slammer"

Ali Catterall, The Guardian, 27th May 2013

Nothing falls flat in this rambunctious sketch show, which 'makes history look less crap' with dazzling writing and pop pastiches.

Written by Sarah Dempster. The Guardian, 25th May 2013

The Horrible Histories author is struggling not to say something outrageous. Just don't mention schools... or libraries... or football.

Written by Cole Moreton. The Daily Telegraph, 11th May 2013

Popular children's book series, Horrible Histories, is to end after 20 years according to author Terry Deary.

BBC News, 2nd April 2013

Horrible Histories has evolved into a phenomenon encompassing books, stage shows and a children's TV series as funny as anything aimed at adults.

Written by Richard Preston. The Telegraph, 21st February 2013

Authors, including artistic director of Bath Children's Literature Festival David Almond have criticised Horrible Histories author Terry Deary's comments that libraries are damaging the book industry.

Written by Daisy Bowie-Sell. The Daily Telegraph, 14th February 2013

Horrible Histories - Barmy Britain, the children's history show currently showing in the daytime slot at the Garrick Theatre, will embark on a tour to the Middle East before returning to its West End home in October.

Written by Kieran Corcoran. What's on Stage, 29th August 2012

The wildly successful Horrible Histories books and TV shows - facts boosted by lots of jokes - are adored by children and adults alike. Writer Terry Deary thinks it's because his characters often subvert authority.

Written by Jon Henley. The Guardian, 14th July 2012

Have you ever wondered why the Romans never won MasterChef? Or what you would do if a Viking moved in next door? The latest stage show by Horrible Histories could answer your questions. Barmy Britain at the Garrick Theatre in London is proving as popular as the books and television series. Two of its stars, Neal Foster and Alison Fitzjohn, joined the BBC Breakfast team as Anne Boleyn and Henry the Eighth and they had a special 'Jubilee' rap to share.

BBC News, 1st June 2012

You can't beat this series for fascinating facts underlining the fact that life in the past was often weird, cruel and smelly. But it's the songs that are often the best bit and today's is a winner for Kate Bush fans, as Mary Stuart tackles her own version of Wuthering Heights. Plus, we learn that the Normans changed the name of a town called Snottingham... by simply dropping the "s".

Geoff Ellis, The Radio Times, 18th May 2012

The past has never looked so much fun or so funny as in this award-winning comedy, enjoyed by children, adults and even most history teachers. In this episode, King Edward III gets married, Julius Caesar reveals his not-very-secret tips on hiding baldness, we learn the tricks of the criminal trade on The Real Victorian Hustle and there's an insight into the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci.

Geoff Ellis, Radio Times, 11th May 2012

The best comedy of the week was to be found over on CBBC, where series four of Horrible Histories made its debut (confusingly, BBC1 is currently showing series two).

Based on the cheerfully bloodthirsty books by Terry Deary and Martin Brown, it plays a bit like Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time, if you replaced the visiting professor of history from Queen's College, Oxford, with a talking rat making jokes about wee.

There have been plenty of bloody revolutions featured in Horrible Histories, but the team's most recent coup was to reunite The League of Gentlemen for the first time in a bronze age. Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith turned up as craven Hollywood execs keen to panel-beat the messy lives of historical figures into award-bait biopics, and while Gatiss's American accent was pretty duff, the bickering spark between the three gentlemen remained.

Recruiting the league should not distract from the tireless efforts of the core cast, particularly Jim Howick, who has matured from being an off-model David Mitchell into a gifted comic actor in his own right. But ultimately, the highlight of this first salvo of new shows was a prancing Charles Darwin explaining the ch-ch-changes of evolutionary theory via an exquisite David Bowie pastiche. Horribly good.

The Scotsman, 17th April 2012

Often described as being 'funny ... for a kids' show', few comedies can touch Horrible Histories for original ideas.

Written by Stephen Kelly. The Guardian, 12th April 2012

Interesting fact: in the late 1630s, as part of the war effort against the Scots, womens' urine was collected from church congregations for use in the production of gunpowder. This is grist to the mill for Horrible Histories, back on CBBC for a fourth series. And isn't that Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith, AKA The League Of Gentlemen, joining in the fun? Which just goes to show how much credibility HH enjoys these days.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 11th April 2012

Find out why Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss are working together on the popular kids show.

Written by Gareth McLean. The Radio Times, 9th April 2012

In 80 years' time there will be a generation of pensioners in Britain still holding preconceptions about the Romans or Charles II that were formed by this CBBC sketch show. It's a phenomenon that has done more to form its viewers' sense of history than a legion of primary school teachers.

Whether or not you like HH's basic take on the past - not so much a foreign country as a lunatic asylum full of mad monarchs - you can't end an episode without absorbing half-a-dozen quirky nuggets.

Among those in this first episode of the fourth series: in the 1630s they collected women's urine to make gunpowder; ancient Egyptians believed the sun was rolled across the heavens by a giant dung-beetle; and it was Oliver Cromwell who coined the phrase "warts and all". Another triumph.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 9th April 2012

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