Horrible Histories
Format Children's television series, sketch show
Developed by Dominic Brigstocke
Directed by Steve Connelly

Chloe Thomas


See Cast

Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 8
No. of episodes 52 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Richard Bradley

Kim Shillinglaw

Producer(s) Caroline Norris
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Lion TV

Citrus Television

Original channel CBBC
Original run 16 April 2009 – 7 May 2018
Related shows Horrible Histories (2001 TV series)
External links
Production website

Horrible Histories is an award winning British children's television series based on the Terry Deary book series of the same name. The first series was thirteen episodes long, and was broadcast from 16 April to 9 July 2009 on CBBC on BBC One. A second series, also of thirteen episodes, aired from 31 May 2010 to 27 of July 2010. A Christmas special was broadcast on 17 December 2010, and a third series was aired between 30 May 2011 to 26 July 2011. From 9 April 2012, a fourth series of Horrible Histories began. A fifth season aired between 27 May and 23 July 2013. A spin-off game show entitled Horrible Histories:Gory Games was also been produced in 2011. A spin-off show for adults was created, called Horrible Histories with Stephen Fry, in which the original links featuring Rattus Rattus were replaced by ones with Stephen Fry. As of 2015, a series of specials has been broadcast on CBBC entitled Series Six


In 2009 a live-action television series based on the books by Terry Deary was made by Lion Television and shown on BBC One and CBBC in the United Kingdom.[1] The production of the television series followed a relaunch of Deary's books, and Lisa Edwards, editorial director of Scholastic UK stated: "the TV show will be a great addition to the perennially popular Horrible Histories property."[2][3]

Before the series went on air, [6] Lisa Edwards, the editorial director explained: "Following the hugely successful re-launch of the books this year, the TV show will be a great addition to the perennially popular Horrible Histories property." [7]

The first series of Horrible Histories was released on Region 2 DVD in the United Kingdom on 10 May 2010,[4] and on Region 4 DVD in Australia on 1 July 2010.[5]

The second series of Horrible Histories began airing on BBC 2 and CBBC on 31 May 2010 in co-production with Citrus Television, following post production by Platform Post Production, London.[6]

The CBBC sketch show Horrible Histories is to be remade for a prime-time BBC One slot with Stephen Fry as host. The new six-part series will feature a selection of the best clips from Series 1 and 2, and new segments featuring Fry, who will be replacing the puppet host Rattus Rattus. "Horrible Histories has been a hideously gruesome and gory success for CBBC and we are delighted to welcome it to BBC One," says Cassian Harrison, Commissioning Executive, History and Business, Science and Natural History. [8]

Mathew Baynton, actor and writer for the Horrible Histories TV show said: "There's definitely a Monty Python influence to it...however ridiculous things might seem, it's all based on fact."[9]


These are the eras and civilizations that feature in the TV series:

  • Savage Stone Age
  • Groovy Greeks
  • Rotten Romans
  • Potty Pioneers (Series One, episodes 3 & 6, Series Three episode 8 and Series Four episode 6)
  • Putrid Pirates (Series One, episode 1, Series Two, episodes 1,2,5 and 6, Series Three, episode 11 and Series 4, episodes 2 and 10)
  • Slimy Stuarts
  • Smashing Saxons
  • Cut-Throat Celts (Series One, episode 10, Series two, episodes , Series 3, episodes 6 and 12))
  • Terrible Tudors (very common (why are there so many tudors?!))
  • Measly Middle Ages
  • Frightful First World War (Series One and Three only))
  • Woeful Second World War (Series Two and Four, but only rare appearinces in Series 1)
  • Vile Victorians (very common (why are there so many Victorians?!)
  • Vicious Vikings
  • Ruthless Rulers (Series One, episodes 5 & 10, Series Three, episode 2)
  • Awful Egyptians (Theming of Awesome Egyptiansbut with name and font style of Awful Egyptians)
  • Gorgeous Georgians
  • Wicked Witches (Unused, only seen on Series One, Episode 3)
  • Terrible Teachers (Only on Season 1, episode 9)

Series two also includes:

  • Incredible Incas (with an orange background instead of yellow, only in Series 2... appeared 5 times)
  • Awesome USA (Series Two, episode 3,5,6,9 and 11 Series Three, episode 7 and Series Four, episode 4)
  • Savage Songs (all series finales except the first one)

There was also an internet reminder from Rattus Rattus (a talking rat that serves as the show's host) about the Horrible Histories 'Terrible Treasures' game at the end of each episode of Series 2: "Want to travel through the time sewers with me? Ha! Then play Horrible Histories 'Terrible Treasures'. Go to the CBBC website and click on Horrible Histories."

Series three added:

  • Angry Aztecs (Series Three only,5 times)
  • Fabulous French (Series 3, 5 times and Series 5 Episode 5 only,)
  • Nasty Knights (Series Three, episodes 2 and 4 and Series Four, episode 8 and episode 11)

Series four added:

  • Wild Warriors (Series Four, episode 5)
  • Radical Renaissance (Series Four, episodes 5 and 9)
  • Shocking Scotland (Series Four, episode 7, the Sport Special and Series 5, Episode 8)

Series five added:

  • Troublesome 20th Century (Series 5, episodes 1, 2, 8, 10, and 12)


Each episode features 6-7 different eras/civilizations with 1-4 sketches from each. Sketches include "HHTV News/Sport","Twisted Fairytales", "Scary Stories", "Historical Hospital", and "Stupid Deaths"


Series 1 Born 2 Rule; Divorced, Beheaded, Died; Making A Mummy; The Tudors; Georgian Makeup; I'm A Knight; Caveman Love; Its Not True; Bring Out Your Dead; British Things; Brainy Greeks; Robert Knox. (Episode 5 has no song at all for the first and only time)

Series 2 Literally: The Viking Song; Charles II; Spartan School Musical; WWII Girls; George IV: I Couldn't Stand My Wife; Blackbeard; Victorian Inventions; Hieroglyphics; The Cowboy Song; Boudicca; The Monks Song; Pachacuti.

Series 3 Dick Turpin, Highwayman; English Kings and queens; William Wallace; Work, Terrible Work; Ra, Ra, Cleopatra; Richard III; Bad: the Evil Emperors; The Suffragettes; Discaztec; The English Civil War; Ages of Stone; Celtic Boast Battle.

Series 4 The Few; Charles Darwin; Greek Thinkers; New World; Mary Seacole; Victoria and Albert; Blue Blooded Blues; The Luddites; The Borgia Family; Mary I; William Shakespeare and the Quills; Georgian Navy.

Series 5 Rosa Parks: I Sat On A Bus; Vikings and Garfunkel; Charles Dickens; Crassus: Minted; Joan of Arc; Alexander; Owain Glyndwr; Pioneers Of Transportation; Henry VII; Matilda and Stephen; Australia; We're History (The Finale).

Series 7: History of Music; Explore; Casanova; Hello, It's-a Me; They Were The Heroes; And This Is What They Do With It...; Mr President; War Lords From Hell; The Iron Curtain Falls; Good Vaccinations; I Brought About; Qin Leader.


These are the cast who have appeared in all or most of the episodes:

The supporting cast varied considerably by series. Those performers with additional speaking parts are listed below:

With Special Guests:


Additional Voices:

More Details at


Series 1Edit

Series 2Edit

Series 3Edit

Series 4Edit

Series 5Edit

Series 6 (2015)Edit

  • Crooked King John and Magna Carta
  • Awesome Alfred the Great
  • Wicked William the Conqueror
  • Mardy Mary Queen of Scots
  • Naughty Napoleon
  • Horrid Henry VIII
  • Crafty Cleoapatra
  • Gorgeous George III
  • Bolshy Boudica
  • Willy Winston Churchill
  • Tricky Queen Vicky
  • 'Orrible Oliver Cromwell
  • Highlights Special: Rotten Rulers
  • Savage Songs Special

Series 7 (2017-18)Edit

  • Monstrous Musicians
  • Exceptional Explorers
  • Ridiculous Romantics
  • Atrocious Artists
  • Heroic Heroes and Villanous Villains
  • Ingenious Inventors
  • Preposterous US Presidents
  • Ruthless Rulers
  • Revolting Russian Revolution
  • Horrid Healh
  • Formidable Florence Nightingale
  • Deadly Dynasties

Series 8 (2019-20)Edit

  • Queen Vic's Home Vids
  • Fashion Faux Pas
  • Chaotic Collabs
  • Mind Your Manners
  • Fearsome Families
  • Bizarre Beasts
  • Moon Mayhem
  • Putrid Politics
  • More Coming 2020


  • Horrible Christmas (Series 2)
  • Horrible Histories Prom (probably Series 3)
  • Sports Special (Series 4)
  • Scary Special (Series 4)
  • Ridiculous Romance (Series 5)
  • Frightful First World War Special (Series 5)
  • Sensational Shakespeare (Series 6)
  • Staggering Storytellers (Series 6)
  • Grisly Great Fire of London (Series 6)
  • Awesome Ancient Civilizations (Series 7)
  • Terrible Tudors Special (Series 7)
  • Heroic Home Front (Series 8)


In 2009, Horrible Histories received an RTS nomination for the best Children's Programme. It was also nominated for Europe's most prestigious children's award, the Prix Jeunesse. Executive Producer Richard Bradley said, "After one series, Horrible Histories' unique blend of historical fact and gory, grisly, bloody comedy has clearly made its mark with children and a surprising number of adults. We look forward to laughing ourselves even smarter with series two and three." The series was also nominated for two Baftas at the 2009 EA British Academy Children's Awards. The nominations were in the categories of Best Writing and Best Factual programme. The nominees were Caroline Norris, Chloe Thomas, Steve Connelly, Giles Pilbrow, Ben Ward and Laurence Rickard. Executive Producer Richard Bradley said "We are thrilled that Lion's first venture into children's television has been acclaimed in this way. It's a tribute to all the efforts of an incredibly talented team in creating such a fresh, innovative and ambitious show." [11] In 2010, the TV series was nominated for, and later won 3 BAFTA awards: Best Children's Comedy, Best Writer (the writing team), and Best Performer. (Jim Howick)[7] [8][9] Horrible Histories won a 2011 Broadcast Award in the category of Best Children’s Programme. [10]

The programme was also the suprise winner of the sketch show category of The British Comedy Awards, 2010.[11]


In the week before 15 June 2009, the show topped the children’s TV viewing figures with 191,000 viewers. [12] The Daily Telegraph commented on its success: "The show...proved a huge hit, with nearly 50 per cent of six to 12 year-olds in the UK tuning in to watch an episode" [13]

DVD releaseEdit

The Season 1 Region 2 DVD was released on May 10 2010. [12] A region 4 2-disc DVD box set of the series has also been released. [14]

Critical responseEdit

Alice-Azania Jarvis of The Independent praised the first episode of the series, writing that, although she did not enjoy the Terry Deary book series, she loved the first episode for being "everything that Blue Peter isn't: fun, filthy and genuinely engaging in a peer-to-peer way."[13]

Seasons 1-5 have been featured on Netflix.

The British Comedy Guide gave the first series a positive review, stating: "This show is great! A talented cast and writing team have made this a comedy highlight for us."[14]

Mike Ward of the Daily Star commented: "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 ... does precisely that".[15

Harry Venning of The Stage wrote: "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."[16

Naomi West of The Daily Telegraph described the series as "boundary-pushing" and a "comic gem", writing that the first series "delivered more laughs than most post-watershed comedies".[17

Tom Stucliffe, also of The Independent commented that: "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".[18

RADIO TIMES ‘Three cheers for the return of this factual but funny series. History hasn’t been this much fun since the last series finished’

THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY ‘Educational Silliness’

THE MAIL ON SUNDAY ‘This is superior edutainment’

SUNDAY EXPRESS ‘There’s nothing kids like quite so much as violence and horror which is why Horrible Histories has been such a success’

TELEGRAPH a boundary-pushing sketch show … more laughs than most post-watershed comedies …a comic gem.

RADIO TIMES One of the best shows anywhere

TV TIMES Slapstick gags and hilarious pastiches disguising useful educational content … our favourite take on British history … We wish history had been taught like this in our day!

THE SUNDAY TIMES An attention grabbing mix of the wilder parts of history … The best bit? And accident prone Home Guard. With just three characters, it summarises both an institution and Dad’s Army in a single sketch.

THE TIMES “I’m not as good an actor as I am a writer” (Terry Deary) [15]

The British Comedy Guide gave a positive review, saying: "This show is great! A talented cast and writing team have made this a comedy highlight for us. In fact, it has become quite a hit with those outside its target audience. Why? Well, much like Sorry, I've Got No Head, the material doesn't patronise but instead treats the children watching as the intelligent people they are. The musical numbers are the real highlight - make sure you check them out![16]


  1. ^ BBC (26 March 2009). "Grim Rulers, Gory Battles, and Foul Feasts feature in CBBC's Horrible Histories – introduction". Press release. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  2. ^ "Horrible Histories on Television". House of Adventure. Retrieved 7 April 2008.
  3. ^ Loveday, Samantha (11 October 2007). "Horrible Histories heading to TV". Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  4. ^ "Horrible Histories: Series 1 (DVD)". BBC Online. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  5. ^ "Horrible Histories". JB Hi-Fi Online. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  6. ^ "Platform Post Production House, Soho, London - Horrible Histories". Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ [2] Horrible Histories picked up a 2010 AIB Award in the category of 'Best Children's Factual Programme or Series'. Judges described it as "thoroughly engaging and educational – a format that will work in territories worldwide – looks great on the screen with inventive use of graphics and first-rate story-telling.....". Horrible Histories won a Prix Jeunesse Intl 2010 Award in the 7 -11 Non fiction category. Horrible Histories BAFTA Awards Interview on Youtube]
  9. ^
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ [4]
  12. ^ [5]
  13. ^ Jarvis, Alice-Azania (17 April 2009). "Last Night's Television: Horrible Histories, BBC1". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
  14. ^ "Horrible Histories". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  15. ^ "Horrible Histories". Daily Star. London: Northern & Shell. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  16. ^ Venning, Harry (17 July 2010). "TV review". The Stage.
  17. ^ West, Naomi (25 May 2010). "How Horrible Histories grew up to be a hit comedy show". The Daily Telegraph. London: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  18. ^ Sutcliffe, Tom (2 June 2010). "Last Night's TV - Coronation Street, ITV1; The 5 O'Clock Show with Peter Andre, Channel 4; Horrible Histories, CBBC". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. Retrieved 17 July 2010.

External linksEdit

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