Horrible Histories stars to make Shakespeare film

Horrible Histories

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The stars of CBBC hit Horrible Histories will make a comedy movie about William Shakespeare for BBC Films.

Written by and starring Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond, the film, named BILL, will also feature the other four main actors Martha Howe-Douglas, Mathew Baynton, Jim Howick and Simon Farnaby.

Each performer will play a variety of roles in the production, which tells the story of how a lute player called Bill Shakespeare leaves his home to follow his dream.

Filming later this year, it has been dubbed as "a tale of murderous kings, spies, lost loves, and a plot to blow up Queen Elizabeth I".

The announcement comes as the BBC confirms the CBBC series is pausing production after the fifth run starts airing in May.

A BBC spokeswoman said there will be special one-offs but "after five brilliant series, Horrible Histories in this form is taking a break."

She added that CBBC hopes there will be "other Horrible Histories ideas down the line".

'Playing with history'

Channel controller Cheryl Taylor previously described the popular show, produced by Lion TV and Citrus TV, as a "channel-defining brand".

The programme, adapted from Terry Deary's books, has won five children's Bafta awards.

Production details: BILL

Mat Baynton as William Shakespeare
  • Original script: Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond
  • Developed with BBC Films
  • Director: Richard Bracewell
  • Producers: Charles Steel (Cowboy Films), Tony Bracewell and Richard Bracewell (Punk Cinema)
  • Executive producer: Joe Oppenheimer (BBC Films)

It also has beaten more "grown-up" fare to pick up the best sketch show prize at the British Comedy Awards on two occasions.

In a joint statement about the film BILL, Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond said it was "a comedy adventure for all the family".

"We're playing with history, just as Shakespeare did, for the entertainment of the audience.

"And we like to think he'd be OK with it. Apart from the bit where he's dressed as a tomato."

Christine Langan, head of BBC Films, said she was "thrilled that BBC Films is making the first film starring this team of incredibly talented and popular British comedy writers and performers".

The six-strong core cast is also making a new comedy series Yonderland for Sky 1.

Horrible Histories starts its fifth series on CBBC during May half-term.

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