Grace Dent on TV: Horrible Histories, Cbbc, Britain's Got Talent, ITV1, Breaking Amish, TLC

The Horrible Histories gang are a mad mash-up of Monty Python, Roald Dahl and Tiswas

It's no secret that many alleged “grown-ups” are supplementing their haphazard history educations with CBBC's Horrible Histories, back for its fifth series with lovely, daft input from The League of Gentlemen. Tiny, mighty Sarah Hadland from Miranda and funny, clever Alice Lowe, writer of Sightseers are regular faces too. To adult eyes, Horrible Histories has the distinct feel of a group of bright, young, erudite, writery-actory sparks having a tremendously good time. One that they probably wouldn't be permitted to have anywhere else on telly.

Kids love them as they are the most peculiar sort of grown-ups. The sort of wonky uncles and aunties who turn up to tea with mild hangovers, scant regard for etiquette and a host of stories about idiot highway men, Second World War bat bombs (bombs attached to bats, prone to exploding before they left the American base) and an imaginary CD compilation called Now That's What I Call Spartan Warrior Music.

There's something about the Horrible Histories gang I find terrifically, stupidly, funny. They're the best bits of Monty Python, Roald Dahl, Tiswas, BBC2's The Tudors and The Young Ones all shoved into a bin and bashed with a stick. “Divorced, beheaded and Died! Divorced, Beheaded, Survived!” is the song that carousels in my mind whenever anyone mentions Henry VIII. Horrible Histories drummed the order of Henry's wives and their fates into my mind where A-level cramming failed forlornly. If only Mathew Baynton and Ben Willbond had shown up at my school in the Nineties and sung a few songs about the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, I could have a proper job now. Not just writing down stuff I think, drinking Earl Grey and taking Yodel deliveries in for neighbours.

From excellent kids' telly, I shall segue to wholly awful telly involving kids – ITV's Britain's Got Talent, full of dance troupes, pre-teen stand-up comedians and would-be Harry Styles. Because the current Harry Styles looks so very happy, forever sitting in a tattoo parlour begging for another terrible tattoo that symbolises “I miss mummy, I am a valid human being, not a product, please can you take the paparazzi lens out of my nostril, please, it's pressing against my brain”. At the first hint of any niece of mine donning legwarmers and a modfied bin-liner in a bid to impress Amanda Holden with roly-polys to a Taylor Swift megamix, I shall lock her in my airing cupboard while perusing Mormon boarding-school booklets. “Tough on the soft-shoe shuffle, tough on the CAUSES of soft-shoe shuffle,' is my child-rearing mantra.

There's a distinct lack of talent washing about on this series of BGT: an Amy Winehouse crooner who weeps through every interview, two Irish children who can sort of play the guitar and sort of sing and an excitable man who plays the drums. The camera throws to David Walliams between acts who says, “Ooooh, my Simon would like this, I bet as it's all glittery and he loves glitter, does my Simon!” Or 'You remind me of me when I dressed as a woman! My Simon loves that outfit, don't you my Simon!?“ And then Alesha says, ”That was a great little act, and you've got your moves, but you need to be true to yourself, right?“ and everyone applauds that as that's way deep. And then Amanda says, ”I really didn't think I was going to cry, but… you made me cry,“ pointing at a single tear moving like the River Euphrates down her HDTV-friendly foundation. It's a skill to be so passionate but noncommittal. I would last approximately two weeks as a judge on this show, but those two shock-and-awe-filled weeks judging the Hereford Bump and Hustle Crew would be very YouTube friendly.

This week's TV comfort blanket came in the form of TLC's Breaking Amish bank holiday catch-up. All 10 glorious episodes of series one of the “Amish kids tell their Bishop to bugger off and run away to New York” structured reality show.

Do you want to watch girls in Amish smocks trying to use chopsticks, wrestling with a Nespresso machine and having their first manicures in Manhattan? What happens when you put a crowd of kids who have never had electricity, zips or access to a dentist in the middle of New York and let them go to Forever 21, Wet Willies Frozen Daiquiri Bar and the 24-hour tattoo parlour? Is the mere description of this show really making you lilac-lipped and sweaty-palmed about “the television world's sense of responsibility”? Or are you thinking “Woweeee, I could watch this for up to nine hours, occasionally being checked by a carer for sofa-sores, while reading internet claims and counterclaims about which Amish kids are the real deal and which ones are 'fakers'!” If you're the latter group, you can sit with me.

The great thing about being on an Amish reality show is that when you eventually discover pole-dancing, you can be 100 per cent certain that your parents will never ever see the footage.

“You look at me like I'm something on the bottom of your shoe.” Natalie gives Zeeshan Shah on The Apprentice a reality check about his management approach. “He seems to have problems with women challenging him,' added Leah, before he was shown the door.

Arts and Entertainment Musical by Damon Albarn


Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment


film review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy