TV: BBC Horrible Histories Series 1-5 DVD Box Set (UK Edition)

“The best thing since cave-men!”


Studio: BBC

Genre: Comedy, Historical, Age: 5+

Released: October 2013  (UK version)

Horrible Histories, for those that don’t know, are an insanely popular series of factual-comedic books made for children. They are pretty old, considering I read them in school, and are filled with facts that seem ridiculous, but are actually true. There have been many productions based off the books, from broadway shows, to animated series, but the 2009 series is easily the best one, being made for all age groups, not just children.

The whole box set is around 30 hours long, and includes all episodes from the five series. The first 12 episodes of each series has sketches, fake historical ads, historical parodies of modern-day reality and chat shows, songs, and quizes. Episode 13, the last of every series, has a compilation of the best songs from the series, and a few extended sketches.

The series groups ancient and modern history into categories titled like Rotten Romans, Awful Egyptians, and Terrible Tudors. Although the show starts off with mainly British related history, it does branch out into significant American and some European history.

Each member of the main cast plays a plethora of characters. As time grows on, you can immediately recognise them and their acting style, and the familiarity makes the comedy even more hilarious.


(Featuring Ancient Beauty Tips from our experts)

I personally find it impossible to pick a favourite person from the cast, because even when they are not in the starring role, they bring a lot of charm and charisma to the sketch, and are great in their supporting roles.

Each cast member has plays many characters, but my favourite roles are Jim’s Shouty Man, Matt’s King Charles II of England, Simon’s Robert Dudley, Martha’s Queen Elizabeth I of England, Larry’s Bob Hale, and Ben’s King Henry VIII of England.

More information and videos below:




All the episodes feature one song, and they vary in quality and topics. The songs in the first series were a bit awkward, and attempted to stick to original melodies with factual lyrics. There was some irrelevant words and rhyming, but from series 2 onwards the production became more complex and the songs settled into parodies of famous songs.

There are still some lines that I think shouldn’t rhyme, or could have been better phrased, and though most songs are not what you would put on an iPod, there are a few exceptionally catchy ones.

Charles II King of Bling


Rosa Parks Equality Song


Although this is a comedy show with some fact nuggets buried in between the humour, Horrible Histories doesn’t really have enough depth to convey how the facts correlate throughout history. It leans a lot more towards being a comedy, and although you can learn things from watching this, (I certainly did), it is more of a supplement to history classes, or to peak an interest in the subject.

There aren’t many bad things about Horrible Histories, and being a show for children this isn’t really a negative, but the show works hard to avoid showing spewing blood, and cannibalism, although there are multiple mentions of these things.

The quality with larger scale sketches also reveals some holes in the production. Working on an admittedly small budget, older viewers will notice things like forced shots and using small groups of people to simulate armies, but the small scale doesn’t seem to matter when the content is this funny.

Overall, Horrible Histories is admittedly an “old” show, having initially aired in 2009, but the hold over me remains to this very day. I would recommend to anyone who is interested in learning about historical in a fun and engaging way, without having to wade through Wikipedia.

The series does start off a bit wobbly in quality, and tries some things that don’t follow onwards from series 1. However the 2nd to 5th series are absolutely solid in terms of quality and entertainment.

The show is billed as being “too good for children”, and with the acting and comedic talent that the series showcases, it would be criminal to deny viewing by “grown-ups”. This is suitable for family viewing, provided it’s not over dinner; the show has no qualms about showing gloopy defecation. Young viewers under five maybe not understand all the content, though they will like the songs.

Having watched the entire series in a marathon over two weeks, getting to the last episode and the final song was quiet emotional. If you finally manage to go through this series and it isn’t enough, the DVD Box Set also has outtakes, and deleted scenes, and there are plenty of Special Episodes to hunt down.

If that STILL isn’t enough and you’ve fallen in love with the cast, then follow them on to Yonderland.

Rated – 5/5 Brilliantly funny, entertaining, with a great cast.

You can purchase Horrible Histories Box Set here.

On a side note: Horrible History lads as RAF pilots. Yes.


Leave a comment


  1. I didn’t know until recently that they had made this into a TV shows! I read the books as a kid too!

    Did you also read the spin-off “Horrible Science”?

    • I’ve been following the BBC Horrible Histories series since it began in 2009. If you haven’t watched it all, I really do recommend it. :)

      And yes! Horrible Science! Wow, that takes me back. HS Deadly Diseases was my favourite book. Superbly gory and informative. :)


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: