“Fancy testing your singing skills against famous Horrible Histories legends? Press Red to sing along with the all new Horrible Histories Karaoke! There are six sensational new songs available, from the heavy metal Luddites and eccentric Queen Mary, The Pilgrim Fathers and Charles Darwin, to the boy-band Fighter Pilots of World War II and ‘The Thinkers’ of ancient Greece.”
Tucked away in a kids TV show I discovered some of the finest comic songs since Tom Lehrer and Richard Stilgoe. Horrible Histories fulfils it’s brief with fantastically clever lyrics summarising their subjects using a wide range of pop music styles, thanks to composer Richie Webb. If they don’t get more awards for this, there’s no justice.
We get the Pilgrim Fathers as a white rap crew, the Luddites as a punk metal band and the Greek philosophers as the Beatles. Darwin is David Bowie, while the RAF pilots are Take That. The combination of subjects, music and lyrics is laugh out loud funny. Horrible Histories has a talented cast of comic actors, mastering complex lyrics and dance routines, all immaculately shot and edited, in homage to classic pop videos.
The Thinkers video lifts the styles of all the Beatles films and the Monkees. The eccentric Mary Tudor is lyrically the weakest of the songs, but is a fine lift of early Kate Bush from her 1976 Wuthering Heights peak, complete with odd vocal warbling and the teenage Bush dance moves.
The CBBC series continues to build on last year’s success, when it became the first children’s programme to win a British Comedy Award for ‘Best Sketch Show’, by being repackaged for Sunday nights on BBC One. Developed by Dominic Brigstocke and Caroline Norris, the cast includes Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard, Ben Willbond, Sarah Hadland and Lawry Lewin.
Printable song words plus more Horrible Histories goodies are available on the CBBC website – bbc.co.uk/cbbc/horriblehistories