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A not-so Horrible way to learn about History
Horrible Histories (TV Programme)
Member Name: tinkerbell18
Horrible Histories (TV Programme)
Advantages: A fantastic, inventive show
When I was growing up, I remember having a very battered copy of The Rotten Romans by Terry Deary. It was part of a series called Horrible Histories that managed to teach you history - but "with all the gory bits left in". It was amusing, it was interesting and it was a rather good read (and was read often looking at the state of it!). Years later, I came across a show on CBBC called Horrible Histories. And I couldn't believe my eyes...
Horrible Histories has had two incarnations on CBBC. The first series, released in 2001, was a cartoon based upon the books. This will not be the one I am reviewing (mainly because I don't think I caught that one enough to form an opinion). The second incarnation occurred in 2009. This time the books were portrayed as a live-action sketch show - full of history, comedy, and the occasional sing-song. And they are fantastic. There have now been 4 seasons, which tend to be about 12 episodes long and half an hour each. There are also a couple of spin-offs, but this is the only show I have watched, so I can't and won't talk about them!
The shows cover all periods of history - from the 'Groovy' Greeks to the Vile Victorians, Ruthless Rulers and Rotten Romans - and I'm sure you get the idea. It is based on the books written by Terry Deary, and is very much in that style. The writers and actors ensure that the accurate historical facts are presented, but in such a way that children will enjoy learning (and some adults too!). Interestingly, whilst writing this I found out that as the show has been running so long (it's now filming its fifth season) that it has run out of books. However, the show's writers research more facts and events and ensure they remain true to Deary's style (and their own) when presenting it. Even the talking rat host seems to have fun!
But how do they present it, I hear you ask? Well, a group of comedians - 5 lead men and one lead woman - alongside reoccurring guests perform sketches that portray different facts from different eras. Each show consists of a combination of eras, rather than just focusing on one period of time. The different eras can be presented in different ways - with news reports, dating sites, simple sketches, game show style, and (my personal favourite) musically. There is usually a song in each episode; the best of which are combined into a compilation show at the end of a series they have become that popular. They even performed at the Proms! There are certain sketches or elements that appear regularly - or almost regularly, as there are enough to fill at least two episodes. Another personal favourite is Stupid Deaths. This is where an unfortunate historical character tells the tale of his or her demise to Death - who declares that they are Stupid and are allowed onto the afterlife. The brilliant bit about this is that not only is it true, but sometimes the deaths do cause you to giggle (rightly or wrongly).
I think the wonderful thing about this show is its inventiveness. It has managed to ignite an interest in history - or perhaps a realisation that it's not always as dull as it can seem in school. The cast are wonderful at bringing history to life in different ways, and you can see their enjoyment of the show through their performances, which is always a bonus. A thing to be wary of is that this is history 'with the gory bits left in' - so some younger viewers may find it a little too gory at times. However, they do seem to keep it from going too far; this is a CBBC show after all! But you may just want to watch a few episodes before you let your young one watch it - and you never know, you may end up becoming a fan yourself!
Summary: What Will your favourite part be?