The Horrible Histories phenomenon will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Scholastic will commemorate 20 years since Terry Deary published the first Horrible Histories books, Awesome Egyptians and Terrible Tudors.
Horrible Histories has continued through the British children’s television series, first screened on CBBC in 2009, and now in its 5th series.
In our house we have followed each series with ever-increasing hilarity and delight.
I love Rattus Rattus, “your host, the talking rat”; and I love every single member of the cast.
I think the pleasure lies in seeing a vast gallery of different historical characters from all social levels and periods and cultures, represented by the same small cast of recognizable, engaging actors.
Often when a team of people is involved in a creative project like this, fans will select a favourite.
And yet I cannot pick out any single one of this team as my favourite. Each of them is equally funny as a brutish thug, a tyrannical leader, a downtrodden peasant or an effete moony type circle dancing round a tree.
There’s Jim Howick, who has on different occasions taken the parts of Napoleon, Blackbeard, Richard III, George IV, Pope Alexander VI, and Prince Albert.
There’s Matt Baynton who is perfect as Mozart, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Charles II, Shakespeare and Dick Turpin.
There’s Simon Farnaby, hilarious as The GrimReaper in “Stupid Deaths”, and entertaining as Caligula, St Augustine the first Archbishop of Canterbury, George III and numerous crazy or slightly dopey characters.
There’s Laurence Rickard who does a perfect high-speed round-up of the religious scene in Tudor times, via HH TV News.
There’s Ben Willbond whose Henry VIII is beguiling, and who also numbers among his roles such characters as George I, Alexander the Great, Adolf Hitler, Sir Francis Drake and Pythagorus.
And there’s Martha Howe-Douglas who’s utterly convincing as Elizabeth I, Cleopatra, Queen Victoria, Joan of Arc, or any one of a number of women in history, whether they be aristocrats or underdogs.
So few actors and so many historical characters… they do the highest and the lowest in the land with equal skill. Posh and rough; they inhabit every character perfectly. And the songs are pure inspiration, written and composed by Richie Webb, a genius in the background.
Of course there are many others too who ensure this TV programme is such a success – and that so many of us love Horrible Histories.
Other posts you might like to check out in my “People of Inspiration” series:
Part 1 – Paul McCartney
Part 2 – Rabbi Lionel Blue
Part 3 – Susan Boyle
Part 4 – Rob Parsons
Part 5 – Frankie Howerd
Part 6 – Gareth Malone