Horrible Histories - In The Press

CBBC's Horrible Histories triumphed over its adult counterparts at the British Comedy Awards - and rightly so, says Gerard Gilbert.

Written by Gerard Gilbert. The Independent, 26th January 2011

From jesters with troublesome wind to Christmas cards full of bacon, this Horrible Histories special foregoes goodwill to all men and instead focuses on the the past's most bizarre Yuletide absurdities. Told with the programme's familiar blend of sketches, pastiches and silly songs, Horrible Histories Christmas Special works its way through the annals (careful) of history for a naughty festive treat that really is fun for all the family.

Sky.com, 17th December 2010

The educational history series for children offers an insight into Christmas that even adults will enjoy. When William the Conqueror was crowned on Christmas Day in 1066, his soldiers mistook the congregation's cheering for a riot and burned down Westminster Abbey. Indeed, something else viewers may not know: apparently King Henry II's jester's job was solely to break wind on Christmas Day for the monarch's amusement. We can't imagine our current Queen being quite so amused, somehow.

Catherine Gee, The Daily Telegraph, 17th December 2010

The one we're really looking forward to is the Horrible Histories Christmas Special, featuring the likes of Simon Farnaby and Alice Lowe. Here be sketches about real-life oddities such as "Roland the Farter", a jester employed by King Henry II on Christmas day to maketh a noyse like a duck from his bottom parts.

Ali Catterall, The Guardian, 17th December 2010

Horrible Histories, a factual series aimed at children, is to be remade and given a prime-time slot on BBC One in the Corporation's latest attempt to bring the past to an adult audience.

Written by Jonathan Wynne-Jones. The Sunday Telegraph, 5th December 2010

CBBC show Horrible Histories has won three awards at the Children's Baftas, where former Play School presenter Brian Cant picked up a special award.

BBC News, 29th November 2010

It's 1349, the Scottish army invades England, as the country is weak after being ravaged by the plague. But it doesn't prove very smart because the Scots catch the plague and take it back with them to Scotland. Here are more amazing facts and straightforward, sometimes bloodthirsty humour. Watch out for a neat reversal in the Spartan School, where an ancient schoolkid wins praise for attacking the teachers and bullying the other kids. And we're still amazed to learn how monks kept their bald patches hair-free (with pumice stone).

Geoff Ellis, Radio Times, 13th July 2010

David Baddiel will give you goosebumps as he delivers a scary yet comical story in this entertaining show. Today, his character, Vincenzo Larfoff, reveals the secrets of the Victorian Freak Show - a nice contrast with the TV spoofs. News at 1066, for instance, reports live by Bayeux Tapestry, although presenter Dagbert Broadaxe has to apologise for the delay in the pictures. Plus some miserable troubadour songs and a Georgian pinching competition.

Geoff Ellis, Radio Times, 6th July 2010

Horrible Histories is a CBBC adaptation of the hugely successful Terry Deary books. These trade in what every schoolchild doesn't know but will do by the end of break the following day, since they're packed with the kind of historical fact that you want to pass on to others. For example, I hadn't known - and really felt I should have done - that the Greek philosopher Heraclitus expired after treating himself for dropsy by applying a full-body poultice of cow dung. As a grown-up you might quibble with the fact that they don't always distinguish between things that genuinely are true and the things that people would like to be (sadly, there's no hard evidence that Aeschylus was brained by a tortoise dropped by an overflying eagle). But grown-ups and children should enjoy the gleefully anachronistic way in which information is conveyed, such as the spoof advert for Evil Spirit Prevention Door Frame Tar. "It does exactly what what it says on the jar," promised the Geordie Athenian.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 2nd June 2010

The successful Horrible Histories returns with another run of gruesome historical tales. Imaginatively adapted from the series of children's books (with pastiches of Come Dine with Me and Dragons' Den), the series delights in stories about everyone from "Rotten Romans" to "Slimy Stuarts" and beyond.

Simon Horsford, The Daily Telegraph, 29th May 2010

As it returns to CBBC, Naomi West meets the team who bring the gory children's books to the screen .

Written by Naomi West. Daily Telegraph, 26th May 2010

The four King Georges performing as a boy band, Henry VIII's murderous reign as an episode of This is Your Life, a medieval washing powder commercial advocating the cleansing properties of wee, a Stone Age arts magazine informing viewers how to preserve a beloved relative's skull in plaster. Welcome to the world of Horrible Histories.

Based upon the best-selling series by Terry Deary, Horrible Histories scours the past for interesting, bizarre, unpleasant and unpalatable facts and uses them as the basis for some seriously funny, beautifully performed and endlessly inventive sketches.

Unsurprisingly, sewage, savagery and bloodshed feature prominently and there are plenty of crowd-pleasing fart and poo gags. There is even a talking rat. All guaranteed to keep a CBBC audience entertained, amused, appalled and disgusted. Who knows, the little buggers might even learn something. For example, Vikings used to take Saturdays off from murder and pillaging to attend to their personal grooming. Didn't know that, did you?

I have one criticism of the show. The poo used to shower the medieval town councillors was totally unconvincing. Wrong colour, wrong consistency, wrong texture. If the BBC special effects department aren't up to the job, there is only one way to ensure authenticity. When it comes to our children's education there should be no half measures.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 27th April 2009

It was everything that Blue Peter isn't: fun, filthy and genuinely engaging in a peer-to-peer way.

Written by Alice-Azania Jarvis. The Independent, 17th April 2009

Kids can learn to love history just so long as it's told to them in a way that brings it to life. And this new series, based on the colourful books by Terry Deary and Martin Brown, does precisely that, with Sarah Hadland, Steve Punt and Meera Syal among the cast re-enacting some gory ancient tales.

Mike Ward, The Daily Star, 16th April 2009