The Horrible Histories gang takes on William Shakespeare in a parody that is, forsooth, too, 

too silly.



Simon Farnaby as Juan, Earl of Croydon


For ‘Bill’ read William Shakespeare, a progressive lutist in a Stratford band called Mortal Coil. As a musician, though, Bill is a bit ahead of his time and is dropped by the group. And so, having failed as a lutist and as an actor, he decides to head for London and embark on a career as a ‘scriptwriter.’ Once there, he bumps into Christopher Marlowe, gets a job playing a tomato and stumbles across a gunpowder plot to unseat her majesty, Queen Elizabeth I.


Adopting the same irreverent licence of John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love, this off-shoot of the TV sketch show Horrible Histories borrows more than a whiff of Black Adder liberally laced with Monty Python. While no expense has been spared on the costumes and the locations are nice, the pervading silliness does become wearisome. Ben Willbond does a fine take on Stanley Tucci doing King Phillip II of Spain – and Helen McCrory is good value as a hideous Elizabeth I – but otherwise the film is more embarrassing than ticklish. The seven-to-twelve-year-olds who lap up the Horrible Histories should get considerably more out of it than their parents.




Cast: Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard, Ben Willbond, Helen McCrory, Damian Lewis, Jamie Demetriou, Rufus Jones, Stephen Greif.


Dir Richard Bracewell, Pro Richard Bracewell, Tony Bracewell, Alasdair Flind and Charles Steel, Screenplay Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond, Ph Laurie Rose, Pro Des Simon Scullion, Ed Gary Dollner, David Freeman and Billy Sneddon, Music Andrew Hewitt, Costumes Charlotte Morris.


BBC Films/Punk Cinema/Cowboy Films-Koch Film.

94 mins. UK. 2015. Rel: 18 September 2015. Cert. PG.