By Holly Allwright, Rosie Pinder, Emma Rogers and Ekta Rajagopalan
2023 marks the 30th anniversary of Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories series, a set of children’s books delving into the different periods of history that has grown into a hugely successful brand. Known for their fun approach and yucky details, they have encouraged countless children to develop an interest in history. From the Gorgeous Georgians to the Savage Stone Age and the Brutal Blitz, there are plenty of people that have grown up with the series – whether in book form or through the popular TV series broadcast on CBBC.
To mark this milestone, Horrible Histories publisher Scholastic is celebrating throughout 2023 with new books, exciting marketing and PR campaigns and the launch of more brand partnerships. In this article, we take on the hosting job of Rattus Rattus and guide you through some of the standout moments.
Horrible Histories: The Worst in the World
Terry Deary’s latest book, published in April, marks thirty years of this iconic staple in British children’s literature. It charts the top three events of history in any given category. From diseases and punishments to battles and schools, Deary ranks as the most horrible of all histories. Packed with comedy and information alongside Martin Brown’s illustrations, this book is yet another gloriously gory story. It is sure to be a hit with the current Horrible Histories fans and can draw new ones in!
Horrible Histories: On the Road and Terrible Thames
Along with The Worst in the World, the Terrible Transport series is being expanded throughout the year. May will bring On the Road and Terrible Thames will be published in July 2023. The pair joins other books that highlight the ups and downs of all the different modes of transport, from Leonardo da Vinci’s aeroplane to the trains of the Industrial Revolution. Terry Deary created the series with the aim of engaging kids in history after he struggled with the way it was taught in schools. It is clear that he has been successful as children of all ages up and down the country delight in the dastardly stories.
Birmingham Stage Company’s Stage Shows
Following a successful run in 2022, Birmingham Stage Company announced that the Horrible Histories: Terrible Tudors show would be returning to the West End’s Garrick Theatre. The show, directed by Neal Foster, covers all things Tudor with Henry’s six wives as well as Bloody Mary’s feud with her cousin Elizabeth. The show runs from 27 July – 2 September, the perfect activity for the school holidays. If Tudors aren’t your thing, you can watch Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain for two nights at the Harlow Playhouse. The West End show is full of rude new rulers from William the Conqueror to Henry I, Queen Victoria to the gorgeous Georgians.
Horrible Histories Escape Room in Liverpool
Earlier in 2023, Escape Live unveiled the first-ever Horrible Histories escape room. Visiting three time periods – Rotten Romans, Terrifying Tudors and Vile Victorians, players are tasked with recovering a historical artefact from each. The room is described as suitable for both adults and children with a 4-star difficulty rating and players have sixty minutes to find all three artefacts. Tickets are still available for this event at Liverpool One.
New seasons of TV series in development
The Horrible Histories TV spin-off, a live-action historical and musical sketch comedy series, first aired on CBBC back in 2009. It's hard to forget the catchy rap in Charles II King of Bling or Henry VIII’s Divorced, Beheaded, Died. Although it was announced in 2019 that the ninth season would be its last, Horrible Histories returned in October 2022 with a special episode about the history of the BBC to celebrate the broadcaster's hundredth anniversary and has since released two new seasons. There has been no official release date for the upcoming series but the show is rumoured to be in production with the official Horrible Histories TV Twitter account (@HHTV_) posting about seasons ten and eleven in their bio.
CBBC (formerly known as Children’s BBC) is the brand used for all BBC content for children aged six to twelve years. It broadcasts every day from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Their hugely popular Horrible Histories series have brought together remarkable figures in history and imagined what they would do with their own podcasts. With amazing historical information for the children combined with one-of-a-kind humour, this BAFTA-winning team behind the series are still going strong with their script. Their in-house famous talking rat, Rattus Rattus serves as the guide. Some of the most famous podcasts include the Brontë Sisters (set after they have published some of their books). The sisters discuss what it means to be a female writer in the 19th century), George Washington (set towards the end of his first term as the first-ever President of America), Henry VIII (a podcast about hunting where he’s joined by a co-host, his fourth wife Anne of Cleves – who is still alive) and many more. These twenty minute podcasts are informative and extremely fun for children and adults alike!