Mrs Holyoak’s Year 7 History class had a treat when Ben Ward popped in, online, before half term!
Ben Ward is a BAFTA-winning writer for children’s TV, who also writes grown-up comedy shows. More importantly, he’s an old school friend of Mrs Holyoak. He’s best known for writing Horrible Histories, the children’s spy drama MI High, Tracey Beaker Returns and Dangermouse. Recently he has been working on a Netflix adult comedy animation Disenchantment.
The Year 7s had prepared questions about Ben Ward’s career, but particularly surrounding Horrible Histories.
Kacey: “How long have you been writing?”
Ben: “Since school, I was always writing. I got into comedy at university but only three-minute sketches. At 27 I got a job as a presenter on a children’s TV show.”
Amelie: “What do you aim for with Horrible Histories?”
Ben: “I aim to entertain. To entertain rather than educate. I’ve always loved history and comedy, so writing a history/comedy show is great fun.”
Jamie: “How long have you been writing Horrible Histories?”
Ben: “For 12 years, I’ve written over 1000 sketches. We have teams of writers, then we go over it all and co-write it.”
Mckenzie: “How do you make it a kid’s programme?”
Ben: “Well, I write what I find funny rather than what I think other people will find funny.”
George: “Do you put any rude humour in?”
Ben: “As much as possible!”
Joe: “Is there any history you don’t do?”
Ben: “We don’t tend to do anything in living memory. We do things from a British point of view. We don’t do anything from pre-history because there is very little evidence.”
Len: “What is your favourite episode?”
Ben: “My daughter is in the episode about the Pilgrim Fathers, so that has to be my favourite. I also particularly like the episode on Oliver Cromwell.”
Roman: “What has been your favourite project?”
Ben: “Horrible Histories because it has always been so interesting. I enjoyed writing Dangermouse because it was totally my own creation. I’m really enjoying writing for the US series Disenchantment at the moment, because I’m working with the team who wrote The Simpsons.”
One of our A Level History students, Sophia, also took part.
Sophia: “How do you write catchy songs?”
Ben: “I steal the tunes! I write our version of a song, for example we fit our lyrics to the music of The Greatest Showman. One of my favourite songs is about Cinema in the style of The Greatest Showman. Also,I like “Minted,” a song about the world’s richest man, Crassus.”
Sophia: “Is Horrible Histories factually accurate?”
Ben: “We have a team who scrupulously do the historical research. The facts in the show stand up.”
Sophia: “In your other writing, do you base characters on real people?”
Ben: “Very rarely. I pick up lots of bits and pieces from all over the place and blend them together. I will use the names of people I like for characters I like.”
It was really great that Ben made time to meet Year 7 and hopefully inspire the next generation of historians, comedy writers or even comedy history writers!