the genius that is horrible histories (and british culture)


now that I’ve got your attention with that little bit of Baynton perfection-

hey hey! hey now. hold up for just one second.

we all know Horrible Histories likes to reference not just history (in a historical show? GASP) but popular culture

especially popular British culture - honestly, I’m not even going to be surprised if the TARDIS shows up in the background of a sketch

but, question - how deep can it get?

answer - very.

so the Greek Thinker’s song. Pree clear, right? It’s a parody of that Monkees song. You know - Hey hey we’re the Monkees!

Wrong. It’s the theme song from the Monkees TV show, the ah…Monkees.

But check out the actual opening credits from the show - apologies for the atrocious quality,

HOLY NELSON it’s so similar! With the walking


and the falling over


and the silly hair!

but that’s it, right? right?


There’s this rather obscure band from slightly earlier than the Monkees with some silly punny name…The Beatles, I think, a bunch of mop-haired rockers from Liverpool. They only had one hit, this song Can’t Buy Me Love. Coincidentally this video was one of the first to use cutting in time to the beat of the song - you know, the thing every music video has done since?

mmm, grainy. But hey hey - didn’t they show them jumping through the air in slow motion? And can I find gifs of that bit? (no, get on it, fandom)

this gif could be aping either the Monkees or the Beatles too

So there we have it. That’s it? Just two videos of the Beatles and the Monkees?


On the subject of those one hit, unimaginative layabout Liverpudlians, let’s take a closer look at Mr Richard Starkey, aka Ringo Starr.


and let’s take a looksie at Larry’s Diogenes.


fairly familiar, it could just be a coincidence. The hair does look awful familiar. And like Inception, it gets deeper. Larry’s done less singing than the rest of the cast, but we have heard him in The FewAztec Priests and Kings and Queens off the top of my head. He sings a fair bit lower in The Thinkers, which completes the Ringo parody, because Ringo is the BAMF who sang this

This is capped off by the sketch where Larry plays Diogenes in his barrel. If you’re not English or of English heritage…or a massive Beatles fangirl, you might not pick up on the fact he’s attempting a Liverpudlian accent, where the Beatles hailed from. The speech patterns are fairly Ringoesque as well.

Here I’ll just mention that Jim’s ‘OOoooh’ is so damn early era Beatles it drives me nuts.

But back to the song! The formation of the Thinkers also recalls the Beatles -


so up the back there’s Ringo, then left to right it’s Paul, George and John. Paul is famously left handed (he’s also famous for being Paul McCartney), but John and George are right handed. Looking at the Thinkers


Ben/Socrates is holding his instrument left handed, therefore he equates to Paul. It’s hard to tell who Jim/Plato or Mat/Aristotle equate to, as at first I figured Mat is John, but John was the rhythm guitarist and so should probably be Plato/Jim and then I realize I’m reading waaay too far into things and decide Jim is probably John, simply because he Imagined that there was a perfect version of everything somewhere to be found. And because George was the youngest Beatle, and Mat looks the youngest in this clip and…I’m reading too much into this bit.

I reckon if we saw more sketches featuring Plato, and Mat’s character it would be more clear. Ringo and John are definitely the easiest Beatles to imitate, Ringo because of his voice and John because of his beliefs, way of speaking and generally weirdness.

nearly done!

so now I turn to the Other Great British Invention, that isn’t listed in the Victorian Inventions song - Monty Python’s Flying Circus. If you haven’t seen Monty Python, you have a wonderful time ahead of you. Google “Dead Parrot Sketch.” I’ll wait.

So Monty Python, the premiere comedic group of their generation, famed for their bloody weird sketches and spawning the word ‘Pythonesque.’ There’s a sequence in the Thinker’s video that can be attributed to Can’t Buy Me Love, towards the end of the clip, but-


My dad swears it’s about 1.15 into this clip that they’re emulating, and it’s pretty close

but I still reckon it the Monkees, though it could be the Monkees copying the Monty’s, or the Monty’s aping the Monkees, and HH has just copied BOTH SOMEHOW. However, every modern British comedy troupe or show emulates Monty Python in some way so it’s good to be able to stick the Pythons in here somehow.


And finally, finally, the reference that references Horrible Histories itself!

Larry chucks his sticks away when he tells everyone that he ‘never believed in possessions.’ Apparently he thought they gave the wrong impression. Put faith in total freedom, dontcha know? Then, being a drummer, leaves to get some more.

I honestly think that’s a reference to the video for Literally - or is it the outtake? when Jim breaks his sticks and pulls out some more.

but that’s just me!

so am I wasting my time doing an analysis like this, or did you like it? let me know! :) Though this was a pleasant way to spend an evening, so I may do more anyway…


30 Dec 12 @ 10:00 pm  —  reblog
  1. sammybitchfacewinchester reblogged this from goryghastlymeanandcruel
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  5. shaestel reblogged this from kirstiesmaldonado and added:
    Yep, they make a lot of popular cultural references. It makes me smile every time. ;D
  6. hotdamnsebastianstan reblogged this from goryghastlymeanandcruel
  7. kirstiesmaldonado reblogged this from goryghastlymeanandcruel and added:
    They actually do have a Doctor Who reference in one of the Horrible Histories video games. “It’s just like Doctor Who’s*...
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  12. vilevictorianqueen reblogged this from horriblewholock221b and added:
    Wow. Just. Wow.
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  14. goryghastlymeanandcruel posted this