Monday 19 August 2019

Horrible Histories 'not just for children', says Ben Miller

Horrible Histories has three nominations
Horrible Histories has three nominations

Horrible Histories stars Ben Miller and Jessica Ransom said the secret to the Children's Bafta Award-nominated show's success is its universal appeal.

The light-hearted yet gruesome history show has three nominations - its special Magna Carta episode picked up nods in both the comedy and writing categories, while actress Ransom was named in the performer category for her portrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Speaking on the red carpet at the Children's Bafta Awards at the Roundhouse in London, Miller said: "It's the classic thing - children's TV gets watched by everybody, not just children. Horrible Histories is the sort of thing everyone watches."

On the series, which is based on the books by Terry Deary, he said: "They're great stories aren't they? Amazing characters. It's a very clever show, to turn that into sketch comedy. Brilliant books of course in the first place."

Horrible Histories ran from 2009 to 2013, but has since aired special episodes - including 2015's Magna Carta episode, which coincided with the document's 800th birthday.

Ransom said: "It's fun, it's interesting, watching comedy is always excellent - if it's funny."

She said she hadn't been tempted to attend the awards in period costume: "No, no, no - corsets are very uncomfortable and there's a lovely dinner afterwards so I want to be able to eat as much as possible."

Monty Python star Michael Palin, who narrates The Clangers - nominated in the pre-school animation category - said he had not planned a speech in case of winning.

He explained: "I don't think that far ahead. I always imagine that if we come we're going to lose. Don't plan too far ahead otherwise you're going to be disappointed."

On the Children's Baftas, he added: "I think they're very joyful, it's about the kids, I think children know a lot more about good television sometimes than the grown-ups do."

Jocelyn Stevenson, due to receive a special award, told the Press Association: "I've been here many, many times with nominations. Never won. So this is very exciting to come and know that I've won already."

This year's Children's Baftas marks two decades since the Awards first took place.

Amanda Berry, chief executive of Bafta, said: "Tonight is all about celebrating the children's industry. It actually doesn't matter which channel wins, there's a real warmth in the room and I think everybody sitting in the room remembers their own childhood and their own favourite programmes."

Looking back on how children's television had changed, she said: "I think it's not only taken more seriously but I think children's television now tackles more serious subjects. I don't think that's necessarily my memory playing tricks, there's some incredibly hard-hitting children's television now.

"It is really important for children to understand the world as a whole and to understand television, and I think it is challenging for children's television because they're competing for attention with so many other types of media. When I grew up it was: 'do you watch Blue Peter or Magpie?' Now there's so much more competition."

Baroness Floella Benjamin, due to present an award, said: "Twenty two years ago I tried to persuade Bafta to have a children's awards. And now, 20 years later, look what we've got... I am one hell of a happy woman tonight."

She added: "Back in the days of Bafta when they only had two awards, I was on the Bafta council at the time, and I'm thinking: 'Hang on, I'm in the children's world, and I know how many practitioners there are who never get a look-in. Why can't we get a bigger, separate awards so that we can actually honour all those people who create excellent programmes for children?' And that's how it all started, because the children's media was getting bigger and bigger and bigger."

Denise Van Outen, also due to present an award, said: "I'm a mum to a five-year-old, so everything that's been nominated this evening, I know. Obviously I'm very au fait with Peppa Pig, I watch that all the time. I probably watch more children's programmes than drama and adult TV."

PA Media

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