Horrible Histories

There is a children’s TV programme called Horrible Histories (produced by Lion Television Ltd) that airs on “Cbeebies”, the BBC’s channel for pre-school age children. The show has a group of actors who, dressed as famous/infamous historical figures, sing songs describing historical events or people. For example, one of the songs is called “Charles II: King of Bling”. There’s another song called “Boudicca”, which I happened to see a couple weeks ago when babysitting my niece and nephew.
Here are some excerpts from the lyrics (written by Dave Cohen and Richie Webb):

“I built a massive army headed straight for the city
Beat ‘em all with ease, unlike me it wasn’t pretty

Chopped ’em and hacked
Whacked them, smacked them,
Boy how we attacked ‘em
Near and far,
Ha ha ha

Flayed ‘em, slayed ‘em
Up and down parade ‘em

Everybody talk about –
Dead Romans.
Martyr, smarter,
Capture a non-starter
This was our,
Last hurrah.

Slaughtered, dismembered
Our tribe always remembered.


Let’s be clear about this, what’s being described here is the brutal slaughter of 70 to 80,000 people by hanging, burning or crucifixion. According to a Roman historical account “…women were impaled on spikes and had their breasts cut off and sewn to their mouths, to the accompaniment of sacrifices, banquets…”

So this is a children’s TV show actually celebrating, making fun and light of a sadistic act of mass murder. Talk about sending children mixed messages! From day one children are told by their parents in no uncertain terms that violence is absolutely unacceptable, but at the same time positively encouraged to watch an ‘educational’ TV show that makes light of the sadistic slaughter of tens of thousands of people – as if the whole thing is a joke and mass murder is no big deal.  How does I child’s brain deal with this contradiction?

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