Horrible Histories

6:00pm Sunday 19 June on BBC ONE

Stephen Fry offers insight and historical nuggets as the best sketches, songs and pastiches from the award-winning first two Horrible Histories series come to BBC One

After a successful first series, CBBC’s Horrible Histories is back for a second run.

Written by some of Britain’s finest comedy writers, this series stars Sarah Hadland (That Mitchell And Webb Look), Jim Howick (Peep Show), Simon Farnaby (Jam and Jerusalem, The Mighty Boosh), Ben Ward (Dead Ringers), and voices from Jon Culshaw, who bring to life gruesome events and ghastly characters from British and international history.

CBBC Controller Anne Gilchrist has ordered a second 13 x 30-minute series of the factual entertainment show from Lion Television which is based on the best-selling books by Terry Deary and illustrated by Martin Brown.

“Horrible Histories was a hideously gruesome and gory success for CBBC,” says Anne Gilchrist.

“It introduced children to the great facts and narratives of history in a hilarious way and featured some of the finest in comedy writing and performances I’ve seen for a long time.”

The first series debuted this spring on CBBC and was a success amongst six to 12 year old viewers, pulling in a 13.3% audience share when it was screened on CBBC on BBC One. It peaked at an 11.8% share when it was repeated on the CBBC channel.

The series was also a hit on BBC iPlayer, being one of the most requested children’s programmes in May.

The new series of Horrible Histories will bring to life strange facts, rotten rulers, gory battles, crazy inventions and weird and wonderful moments from the past. It features shocking stories from the Aztecs, Incas and America, and, closer to home, it will cover terrible tales from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and also black history.

Each episode will feature a mixture of sketches from different ages, played by the talented ensemble cast, and commentary from the show’s host – a talking rat.

The writing team boasts some of the finest comedy talent around including Steve Punt, Jon Holmes (Dead Ringers) and Giles Pilbrow (Have I Got News For You), Colin Swash (Have I Got News For You), Laurence Richard (Armstrong And Miller), Fay Rusling and Oriane Messina (Green, Wing, and Smack The Pony).

Horrible Histories is a Lion TV production for CBBC based on the series of books licensed by Scholastic Entertainment and published by Scholastic UK.

The series is executive produced for CBBC by Alison Gregory and for Lion TV by Richard Bradley. The series producer is Caroline Norris and the directors are Dominic Brigstocke and Steve Connelly.

Horrible Histories

Steve Punt (of Punt & Dennis) and Meera Syal (formerly of The Kumars and Goodness Gracious Me) are among the names attracted to the new CBBC series Horrible Histories which will run on CBBC and BBC One from Thursday 16 April.

Based on the best-selling books by Terry Deary (featuring wonderful illustrations by Martin Brown), Horrible Histories will outline strange facts, the bad behaviour of  “rotten rulers”, and the horrifically gory battles, not to mention the crazy inventions of the past and other weird and wonderful from a range of eras – starting with the Savage Stone Age before progressing to the Awful Egyptians, the Rotten Romans, the Vicious Vikings, the Measly Middle Ages, the Terrible Tudors, the Gorgeous Georgians and the Vile Victorians, finishing off with the Woeful Second World War.

The series also features some superb-sounding sketches and cartoons, with everything held together with commentary from the show’s host Rattus Rattus – a talking rat.

Typically for a writing team that includes Steve Punt (once a member of The Mary Whitehouse Experience) Horrible Histories will feature pastiches of familiar TV formats such as Historical Wife Swap, Historical Hospital and Ready Steady Feast, not to mention musical pieces, such as the Four Georges song which takes the viewer on a musical journey through 18th Century British history in the style of a Westlife ballad.

Other familiar faces on the Horrible Histories show include Sarah Hadland (Quantum of Solace), Peep Show’s Jim Howick, Simon Farnaby (familiar from Jam And Jerusalem and The Mighty Boosh) and Ben Ward of Dead Ringers.

Can Horrible Histories have the same impact on television as the remarkable books, which magnificently mix Roald Dahl-esque horrid stuff with historical fact? With such a well-known name from the world of children’s books and with such talent attached to the series it seems likely that Horrible Histories will be a huge success!

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