BBC revisionism on kids TV

! This post hasn't been updated in over a year. A lot can change in a year including my opinion and the amount of naughty words I use. There's a good chance that there's something in what's written below that someone will find objectionable. That's fine, if I tried to please everybody all of the time then I'd be a Lib Dem (remember them?) and I'm certainly not one of those. The point is, I'm not the kind of person to try and alter history in case I said something in the past that someone can use against me in the future but just remember that the person I was then isn't the person I am now nor the person I'll be in a year's time.

Those of you familiar with the Horrible Histories books, you may be pleased to know that the BBC broadcasts a series of the same name and along the same lines as the books on the CBBC channel.

The Horrible Histories books teach children about history using cartoony pictures and by concentrating on the “horrible” history such as beheadings, torture and gross things like crushed rat and honey face cream.

The good thing about Horrible Histories is that it’s not just entertaining for kids, it’s entertaining for adults as well.  The bad thing about Horrible Histories is that it’s produced by the BBC and therefore revisionist.

Take the episode I watched with the kids this afternoon for example.  The programme made multiple references to “Anglo-Saxon Britain”.  There was no such thing as “Britain” when the Anglo-Saxons invaded in the 5th century, 1,300 years before the Act of Union.  The Anglo-Saxons invaded and conquered the myriad kingships that emerged in Sub-Roman Britannia (that’s Britannia, not “Britain”) and the resulting kingdom that followed the eventual unification of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms was called Engla Lond (Land of the Angles) which of course morphed over the centuries into today’s spelling of “England”.  There was no kingdom, fiefdom, principality, country, nation or any other form of state known as “Britain” or “British” in the 5th century, nor was there a people that called themselves “British”.

In the same programme, they showed a Georgian sailor using the 1801 version of the union flag, incorporating the St Patrick’s saltire.  While that flag was used towards the latter end of the Georgian era, the  majority of the Georgian era used the pre-1801 flag.  The sailor was wearing a tricorn hat which fell out of use after 1800 so the flag he would have used would have been the pre-1801 version.  It’s a small thing but the idea is to educate people, not mislead them.

The BBC is fond of calling claiming England for “Britain”.  A few years ago I successfully got the BBC to revise several of the country profiles on their website which claimed they had been settled by the British when they were part of the English Empire before the first Scottish bailout (aka the Act of Union) in 1707.  But then what can you expect from an organisation that doesn’t even recognise the English nation?


  1. Maria (9 comments) says:

    That’s Auntie. I also noted their “1970s good, 1980s bias” a long time ago, when they screened “I Love The 1970s”. Suddenly, this rather grim decade was awash with colourful pop culture. The only trouble was, about 30% of it in reality belonged to the 1960s and another 30% to the 1980s! According to Auntie, the 60s were too long ago for anybody to remember anyway, and the idea of pretending the 1980s had enjoyable pop culture was totally not on!

  2. Maria (9 comments) says:

    Sorry, the above should read:

    “1970s good, 1980s bad bias”.

  3. Steve (38 comments) says:

    Before 1603, the only people who called themselves the Britons were the Welsh. In fact they never called themselves Welsh, only Britons and Wales was called Britain or Prydain. Or perhaps they meant the British Isles, these isles have always been called the British Isles long before 1707. So perhaps they meant the geographical expression. The BBC are so easily confused.

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