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Our latest family obsession: Horrible Histories

Three months ago, we headed off on holiday to Scotland, little realising that a new obsession was about to hit us, pow! Unbeknown to me, Matthew had been watching Horrible Histories on his Kindle for a while and learning the Kings and Queens song. Over the next 10 days as we traversed the highlands and lowlands, we all learned it too and fell in love with Horrible Histories.

I knew of the Terry Deary books from my own teenage years and have been thrilled now to be able to pass them over to my kids to enjoy (Matthew has practically devoured them, roaring with laughter and fascinated by gruesome facts from our past).
The television series had passed us by as it was aired while we were still firmly in the realm of CBeebies (ah, Mr Tumble, how I loved you!) Thank goodness for catch up apps,  BBC iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube!
The historical skits are pretty good (the brilliant Bob Hale segments are simply sublime) but the songs are in a class of their own. Here are my top 5 in no particular order: let me know which is your favourite!

I also love the Mary I song (based on Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights) and the four King George’s Born To Rule from the very first episode. Look out for glam rock, Simon and Garfunkel and so many other musical inspirations!
Working out the inspiration for the song and knowing the original definitely increases enjoyment for me as a person whilst seeing my kids singing along, completely absorbed in historical facts and learning without realising, makes me feel like a parenting success.
The use of song is a brilliant way to add an extra dimension to the programme. Zach is only 3 but can sing the tune although not necessarily the right words or full understanding. But he is having fun and developing a love of music, working on his motor skills as he wields a sword dangerously at Matthew and Anya, expanding his vocabulary and generally enjoying spending time together as a family.
It has enhanced our visits to places with an historical aspect, such as castles and, below, running towards Runnymede (signing of the Magna Carta: Horrible Histories has a whole episode devoted to it, including a rap battle).
As someone with a degree in History, I am thrilled that my children are loving the subject as well and we are having in depth discussions about various eras (something to chat about on the school run!) It has really sparked their imagination and interest, as well as getting them singing and dancing!
The show offers no sugar coating and some of the content is a little graphic at times but it is done in a humorous way and not dwelt upon. The children are not spoken down to, in fact they are often addressed by the characters and brought into the scene through little asides and knowing glances.
Learning should be fun and with it certainly is with Horrible Histories!


  1. Superb how Horrible Histories has caught so many imaginations over the years. We can learn from history and must do so for our sanity I think in this crazy world. #DreamTeam We are all big history fans in my family and I am delighted that my 18 year old son is now studying it as they would not let him do so at school but he taught hmself anyway

  2. The boys are obsessed here! My girls love the songs, but they are a bit young really to get it. Their favourite song is the one that ‘death’ sings about avoiding death next time

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