Horrible Histories was the best show on TV, you can’t change my mind
It was British culture in its purest form
The year is 2010. You've zoomed home from school in your Heelies, grabbed a Freddo, adjusted your loom bands, and switched on the TV. Just in time to hear the sacred opening lyrics to the most glorious of theme songs.
"Terrible Tudors, Gorgeous Georgians, Slimey Stuarts, Vile Victorians…"
That's right, its Horrible Histories: the grossest and most hilarious show to ever grace the screens of the Great British public. And also the reason why you STILL have a weird crush on highwayman Dick Turpin (Matt Baynton in eyeliner, anyone?).
Still on the fence? Let me jog your memory.
From the Shouty Man sketches to Stupid Deaths, Horrible Histories had a way of combining slapstick, goriness and real facts to transcend the realm of children's television and become a cultural landmark. It's satire of historical figures with huge cults of personality like Napoleon and Alexander the Great was not only hysterical, but also pretty radical too.
And let us not forget the absolute bangers that were born on the show. 'Born to Rule' sung by the four King Georges as a boyband was comic genius, as was the Viking rock ballad 'Literally', which is probably the only catchy song about pillaging in existence. Furthermore, not only is Henry VIII's 'Divorced, Beheaded and Died', a total bop, but Charles II's rap 'King of Bling' is arguably one of the best songs ever created (Bohemian Rhapsody who?).
Yet, while Horrible Histories is known for being riotous TV, it's also pretty political in its message. While a couple of the early sketches haven't aged well, there is a lot they definitely did right.
The first of these is when the Victorian song 'British Things' completely DRAGGED the "frankly stolen" culture of Imperial Britain. Queen Victoria's butler explains that tea is Indian, sweetened by sugar from Caribbean slaves, and even her own 'English' name is actually Latin.
Horrible Histories was also great at putting women in the spotlight. The 'Boudicca' song, along with the total feminist anthem 'World War Two Girls' were fantastic examples of inspirational historical women that school curriculums often avoid.
An especially politically aware sketch was an argument between Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole about why Seacole had been dismissed while Nightingale was far more famous. This was the first time I had even heard of Mary Seacole, who has been seriously overlooked for her incredible medical work in the Crimean War. Attempts to remove Seacole from the national curriculum around the same time this sketch was broadcast shows just how Horrible Histories was sometimes right on the zeitgeist.
So, basically, Horrible Histories was insanely funny, full of CRIMINALLY underrated tunes and lowkey kinda woke for its time.
P.S. if anyone knows Dick Turpin please give him my contact details, thanks xox